As one of America’s top motivational speakers Denis Waitley rightly said, “Expect the best, plan for the worst, and prepare to be surprised.”  

Although surprises can sometimes be frustrating, the trick for Project Managers is to recognize their potential for opportunities. But what happens when Mohit is faced by the “unknown unknowns”? Will our protagonist Mohit be able to handle the unexpected problems when they arise and prevent them from derailing deadlines as well as the budget? Let’s take a closer look in this out of the ordinary Wednesday, in our series titled- “A Day in a Week of an Employee”. 

Mohit pulled aside the curtains, letting the sunlight in. The trees by his apartment windows swayed with the wind, greeting ‘good morning’. He starts preparing his breakfast, humming a tune, making the morning seem so soothing and calming.

As usual, he prompts the voice assistant to walk him through the daily news.

“With record number of covid-19 cases reported daily, various Indian states are gearing up for another phase of state-imposed lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus”, the voice assistant stated with its melancholic robotic voice.

Mohit gasped, sinking into a nearby chair. He assumed his company might announce work from anywhere policy, yet again, indefinitely. Mohit was happy to be back in office after the initial nation-wide lockdown. He could also sense another wave of chaos which was to follow.

The Uber driver calls, breaking his chain of unending thoughts. Quickly grabbing a hand sanitizer and a face mask from his cabinet, he rushes to the front door.

Leaning against the car window, Mohit checks his phone, swiping erratically for any mails or new notifications. He was feeling rather distracted today.

Uber made its way through the usual traffic to get to the office. Mohit headed straight towards the Director’s cabin as soon he enters the office premises.

“Good morning Mohit. Please have a seat.”, said Ajay, the Director.

“Good morning Ajay. Did you hear today’s news?”, asked Mohit.

“Yes, I did. I just had a chat with the VP few minutes back regarding this. What brings you here today?”, said Ajay.

“Ajay, I need new talent for our developmental team. There has been a sharp increase in the number of projects and the workload has potentially increased. My team is putting in extended hours as of now. But, down the line, it will cause unrest and dissatisfaction among the team members.”, stated Mohit apprehensively.

“I reviewed your Headcount Planning Strategy report and I agree with you. You are short on resource. Collaborate with Sunita, she will help you with sourcing and pre-screening potential candidates.”, said Ajay.

“Thank you so much, Ajay.”, said Mohit with a sigh of relief and closed the cabin door behind him. He reached his workstation and immediately proceeds to set up a call with Sunita, the Head HR.

The clock ticks 10:00 am, time for the daily scrum meeting.

The atmosphere inside the conference room felt rather grim. As he had predicted in the morning, chaos had already made its way to the office. The team was rather unenthused about the idea of another indefinite work from anywhere situation.

“Before we start our daily meeting, I request all of you to keep your afternoon free as I would like to take you all out for lunch today.” said Mohit. He always believed that the act of eating together is often extraordinarily meaningful. It helped ease any commotion and was fruitful in building long term relationships. This cheered up the team a little before continuing with the daily agenda. The meeting started with a quick discussion about the progress, plans and problems. Each member then took turns to state – their accomplishments for the previous day, plans for today and impendences if any.

The meeting wraps up at around 10.30 am and Mohit was back at his desk. He responds to the unattended emails, clearing up his inbox. Mohit likes to follow the Inbox Zero rule as it helps him to curb his fear of lingering notifications. The Inbox Zero approach is the process of email management which aims to label, tag and organize one’s inbox so that zero unread emails await a reply.

The technique is pretty simple. Mohit creates four folders in his inbox with the following labels:

  1. Action required: For the emails which requires immediate attention.
  2. Awaiting reply: For emails which are yet to receive the response.
  3. Delegate: For emails which can be assigned.
  4. Archived: For emails that we want out of our inbox without deleting them.

All emails are filed under these four folders, leaving the inbox clear.

A calendar notification to discuss the hiring strategy flashed on his screen and he immediately connected with Sunita.

“Hi Sunita! We are planning to hire new talent for our development team. How should we roll this out?”, enquired Mohit.

“Mohit, I’ll review the applications once the JD rolls out. I will then finalize the top 10 candidates, who will go through a few rounds of screening and then shortlist the top 3 candidates. You and Ajay can interview them and take the final call.”, stated Sunita.

“Sounds like a plan. Thank you, Sunita.”, said Mohit, closing the meeting tab.

The clock struck 1.15 pm. Mohit calls up the restaurant across the street to book a table.

“Team, let’s go for lunch!”, announced Mohit in a chirpy voice.

Everyone seated themselves comfortable at a big wooden table and started ordering their favourite food items. Interpersonal relationships between co-workers and their managers play a huge role in every team. The only difference is that some project management practices take them into account as a productive measure while a few try to ignore their existence. 

The Team Lunch concluded and brought a smile to everyone’s face.

Mohit gets back to his workspace and decides to work on a detailed budget breakdown and a release roadmap, with information about risks. This had to be done to ensure that the development plan is transparent and flexible. 

Mohit had been so enthralled by the work that he missed out on the email notification flashing on his laptop screen. He receives a call on his desk landline breaking his workflow “Mohit, everyone is packing up. Why are you still at your desk?”, enquired Ajay.

“Huh? Did I miss something?”, Mohit questions in a puzzled voice.

“Yes! You did. Check your email.” Ajay hung up.

Mohit immediately checks his inbox. The content of the email read:

Due to the recent events regarding Covid-19, and as we all are aware of the full blown 2nd wave, we are collectively taking a decision to shut down the office to slow the spread of the virus. We are imposing the ‘Work from Anywhere’ policy again until further notice as an immediate measure till things settle down. We request you all to stay safe and take care of yourselves.

Mohit wasn’t surprised. He has been expecting it to happen sooner or later. Despite all the perks that remote working offers, there are certain challenges which the project managers need to overcome. Co-ordinating projects and promoting collaboration become much harder when you cannot bring everyone together at one place. Thanks to all the technology available, gathering a team on a video call was quite effective during the first lockdown at least.

Mohit starts to back up the required paperwork on the cloud.

Let’s say this was an atypical day.

How did you feel was Mohit’s Wednesday? Stay tuned for the next blog as we travel through another work day with Mohit.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Send a Message