Dr. Jimmie Flores

Month: June 2017

How to Get Approval for a Project

How to Get Approval for a Project

Getting a project approved can be a daunting task, and it’s much more difficult when someone lacks decision-making power. However, if you have a good idea that you believe will provide value to the organization, it’s important that you present it to the management team. Instead of going to a colleague, it’s better if you schedule an informal meeting with your manager to discuss it. The problem with going to a team member is that this individual might discourage you from moving forward.

The Meeting with Your Manager – Example

Hi, Melody –

I appreciate your taking the time to listen to my project idea.

 Here it is … during the past few months, I’ve noticed that customers are complaining about incomplete and wrong orders. In one case, we sent a unit without the power cord. My guess is that shipping is overwhelmed with the number of orders we’re receiving, and they’re failing to perform the necessary quality control steps. There’s no doubt that getting more orders is good, and we can’t tell the marketing group to stop advertising, so it’s best if we initiate a project to identify the root cause of the problem.

 My research during the past 35 days shows that 6 orders out of 100 are wrong. In the past, when we had fewer orders, only 1 order out of 100 was incorrect. Again, we can’t just assume that the increase in orders is the reason for the additional mistakes we’re making, so this is why I recommend that we launch a project to investigate the underlying problem.

 I know that people are super-busy, and I doubt that anyone can take on the extra work of running this project. Therefore, with your permission, I can assume the project manager role. As you know, I will need your approval to get started, and I suppose you will need to get clearance from the higher-ups. As part of this work, it’s essential that I speak to stakeholders in various departments, such as shipping, marketing, operations, IT, and others. If approved, I will need to schedule a meeting with these individuals.

 I know I’m getting ahead of myself a bit, but I know this project can make a big difference in the way we do our work, and the value we provide our customers. Please take the time to think about my proposal, and let me know if I can proceed.

 I’m sure you have questions, so please feel free to ask.


As you can see here, Adrian, who likely has little power to initiate a project, has made a strong presentation to his manager, Melody. He has focused on how the project will yield immediate value to the organization. In addition, he is willing to assume the work of leading the project. There aren’t many people who are this proactive, so his idea is likely to be well-received.

The other point I want to make is that coming up with ideas is only a small part of the solution. The difference-makers take the initiative to make something happen. In other words, they’re not afraid to do the work.

How Smart People Get Promoted

How Smart People Get Promoted

There are far too many people hoping they receive a promotion soon. In some cases, the belief is that longevity with a company will eventually yield good news. I do know that advancements are sometimes given based on seniority, but having to wait until one gets older to receive a promotion is a strategy with a double-edge sword.

The smart people have a sense of urgency. They want to get around the bases as quickly as possible. The first step is to figure out where you want to go. Do you want to become the Director of International Marketing? How about the CIO? I’m sure that some of you want to eventually make the big decisions and become the President or CEO. While some of these goals may seem hard to reach, rest assured they are impossible unless you believe there is a way to make them happen.

Take Care of What You Can

There are many people who think they are failing to progress because of politics. They don’t know the right people in the company, and they’re unwilling to “play the game.” To excel in any organization, one must able to interact with the decision-makers. I suppose some will say this is politics; if so, do what you can to participate in the process.

Here’s a good way to get in front of the people who can fast-track your career … get involved with projects that will add value to the company. There are many opportunities to participate in these initiatives, and many of these projects are spearheaded or championed by the executives. This means you will meet face-to-face with these individuals, and you may be asked to make a presentation. I recommend that you ask for the opportunity to lead a meeting or present an update on how the project is progressing. In many cases, getting this opportunity is easy because others are intimated to speak before the organization’s leaders.

Focus on Success

The people who climb the ladder quickly are effective in their work. They know what the result is supposed to look like, and they will do whatever it takes to get it done. There will undoubtedly be challenges along the way, but these top-notch employees will find a solution or workaround to ensure the product or service is delivered as close to the proposed schedule and budget.

You will also notice that successful people are great communicators. When a problem arises, they will immediately alert the appropriate stakeholders. Just as important, though, they will have a contingency plan in place. Because they are committed to meeting expectations, they will seek guidance from subject matter experts (SMEs) and company leaders. If they are heading in the wrong direction, these top performers are willing to accept it, and take the necessary corrective action.

Many people believe there is a secret to success, but there isn’t. Everything that one needs to know about becoming successful is already printed in books. The first point to recognize is that success starts with knowing exactly where one wants to be in the future. With this in mind, the person begins a journey that is filled with roadblocks, obstacles, and unforeseen challenges. When a problem or issue arises, regardless of its size, it’s imperative to find the best possible solution, and keep moving forward. This no-nonsense attitude to getting work done will eventually lead to the finish line, and it will give you on the radar. Once the leaders know you who are, and the good work you’ve done, the promotions will come quickly.

Lots of Great Ideas But Zero Action

In my years working in corporate America, medical practices, and running my own business, I’ve heard a ton of great ideas; unfortunately, in most cases, no action is taken to make these ideas a reality. I’ve put together a short list of reasons why leaders, managers, and staff members decide it’s best to forget that something good can happen if action were taken.

Work is Painful

As a project manager, I often notice that people are enthusiastic about the results the initiative will yield. For example, a project is launched to create a new product that has huge potential in the market. The excitement usually comes to a screeching halt when work is assigned to the team members. Even though the project is important to the success of the company, the people feel the extra work is burdensome, and they hope the idea is scrapped. One rationale is that the project can wait one more year.

Mediocrity is Fine

Believe it or not, some leaders are willing to accept falling behind the competition. To get in the game, this project and many others must be initiated, planned, executed, and controlled. The leaders believe they have a share of the pie, and while it’s not great, it’s good enough to stay in business. The bills are paid on time, and people are willing to work in the company. Given that most of the work pertains to current clients, the workload and stress are manageable. In other words, the mediocre company is operated by mediocre leaders and employees. The unfortunate reality is that the days for these types of companies are numbered. Within a year or two, their market share will disappear, and mostly because the customers will decide that someone else can provide a better value.

Incompetence Reigns

Like me, I’m sure you’ve worked in companies where the leaders lack a clear understanding of what it takes to make the enterprise successful. I remember one situation where an executive petitioned for the main office to be moved to a location closer to his home. He was tired of driving the 15 miles to the current office, and felt he could be much more productive if his commute was cut to 5 minutes. You will find it interesting to know that he raised this issue at least 10 times in meetings with key stakeholders. His wish never came true, and he soon left the company. The job he accepted was 25 miles from his home. Go figure!

The takeaway here is that great ideas are only meaningful if someone is committed to making them become a reality. This means that a champion is required, which is someone who will work tirelessly to ensure the planning and work get done. This person must be either a decision-maker or someone that has the ear of the executive team.

There are people in companies that are willing to take on the challenge of getting things done. These individuals know when they can take on more work, and they also know when to ask to be removed from other work to focus on critical work. I’m sure you know who they are in your organization. You won’t find them near the water cooler or at break time because they’re busy doing the work. The other notable characteristic of go-getters is that they find excuse-making a waste of time.

How to Get Back on Track After a Failure

Quitting is not an option

Falling short of expectations is never fun. Even when we work hard, it just wasn’t good enough. Whether we place 2nd or 26th, it’s still not a good feeling. The most successful people don’t look at failure as a dead-end. Rather, they consider the situation a learning opportunity, and commit to making sure it doesn’t happen again. Of course, for individuals who are constantly competing, failure is bound to happen from time-to-time. The flip side holds true as well … the more one tries, the more times one will succeed.

Rejection after Job Interview

We’ve all had a job interview where we failed to advance. In some cases, we made it to the last two candidates standing, but received the unfortunate “you are the runner-up” phone call. If the job was important to our career, we are going to be unhappy, dejected, and cautious about any future interviews.

The top-notch people take a different approach altogether. While they’re unhappy about the bad news, they look for ways to make a better impression at the next interview. I recommend that we use this opportunity to be introspective. Let’s take the time to consider why we failed to earn the position. Were we unprepared for questions that were asked? Did we lack confidence? Did we project arrogance? In some cases, though, the cards were stacked against us, and there was little we could do to be selected. The other candidate was running on the inside lane because he was well-liked by several executives. Regardless of the circumstances, we must do whatever possible to address issues that we can control.

Failing an Important Professional Certification Exam

In my work as a corporate trainer, I prepare students to take tough professional exams, such as the PMP®, Agile Scrum, and ITIL® Foundations v3. For the PMP from the Project Management Institute (PMI), students will often invest up 100 hours of study time. The exam consists of 200 questions, and many of them are situational in nature. Even when well-prepared for the exam, many students report that the exam was grueling.

Unfortunately, not all students will pass the PMP® exam on the first try. I knew of one individual who fell short of the passing grade, and he stated the following: “This exam is not for me. There’s no way I will ever pass it … so I’m not going to try anymore!” From my interactions with this student, I was confident that he could pass it, but he needed to have the motivation to study and learn the material.

I know another individual who failed the PMP exam, and he called me for advice. Near the end of the call, she noted: “Dr. Flores, I was discouraged with the results, but I’m not going to quit. After thinking through my test experience, I have a clear idea how to prepare for the re-take.” Two weeks later, this student called to inform me that she was a brand new PMP! The people who are unwilling to accept defeat will eventually realize success. It’s only a matter of time.

We should look at failure as part of being competitive. It will hurt to fall short of our goal, to be sure. However, once we accept the situation, and figure out how to resolve it, we can give it another try. The lesson here is that perseverance is often the answer to earning what we want from life.

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