5 Lessons for Managing People, Projects and Organizations

While I’ve written about some of these issues before, below is a compilation of some Lessons Learned that are important to remember in managing people, organizations, projects and tasks. These are a few things that I have learned over time. Hopefully, they will serve as a reminder to me, and will be helpful to others as a guide to their efforts to move people and companies forward.


  1. Change: I am continually reminded how hard change is for people; and it is especially hard to appreciate how difficult it is for some, when you are the change agent. Never assume it is as clear and evident to everyone as it is to you.

Lesson Learned: When it comes to change, over-communication is almost impossible, and face to face communication is vital. If you are the change agent, the feedback from face to face communication is absolutely critical.

  1. Role Playing: I covered this just last week, and this week the issue became important in a meeting. One person was tasked with doing an audit of a project and to find areas where we can improve our performance. He was tasked with a “leave no stone uncovered” direction. Dutifully, he threw everything at the wall, knowing that much of it wouldn’t stick because, basically, “that is not how we do things”. Unfortunately, his role was not communicated to the team and many thought he was suggesting and pushing for actions that are not aligned with our values.

Lesson Learned: If someone is being tasked with a role that is extraordinary to the organization, make sure that role is understood by all.

  1. Mentoring: A lot of material is available when it comes to mentoring. It should be easy, right? Wrong. I think it is one of the more difficult challenges we have as managers and leaders. We’re busy enough as it is, and it is typically a lot easier and takes less time to do things yourself. But mentoring is like long range planning. Doing it now pays off in the long run. Not doing it now means you will never get to where you want to be. My mission over the next few years is to establish a vibrant mentoring culture and create an expectation of mentoring. I’ll keep you posted of these developments.

Lesson Learned: Mentoring is a form of training, and training is much more effective when the trainer receives some instruction in training, i.e. train the trainer. It requires an investment and if there is no investment, there is no return.

  1. Growth: Growth, of course, is a good thing. It is what most organizations are all striving for. But growth is by definition, change (see above). The thing about growth is that it is exciting and exhilarating. It is when good things are all coming together. While everyone typically focuses on the particular project that is delivering the growth, hopefully you have some skeptics in the organization that are seeing the dark cloud around the silver lining (reference role playing).

Lesson Learned: Give those skeptics a strong voice in the organization and address their concerns. They will keep you grounded to make sure that the growth you are experiencing is sustainable and not a one-off.

  1. Resourcefulness: There are a multitude of people out there who have gone through what you are going through. Find them and talk to them. Find some peers with background and strengths similar to yours. More importantly, find some with backgrounds and strengths complementary to yours. Get together with them for lunch periodically and bounce ideas off of them. You never know what insights you might get, or give.

Lesson Learned: Be resourceful.

“The six essential leadership attributes: 
set high standards; live your standards and mentor those who follow; 
create and share a vision; make the hard choices when necessary; 
be visible and out front; and instill hope in those who follow.”

John Di Frances

"Every great work, every great accomplishment, has been brought into manifestation through holding to the vision, and often just before the big achievement, comes apparent failure and discouragement."

Florence Scovel Shinn
Artist and Author