Starting week 6 (08/01/2024) the DSAU24 is transiting from the learning phrase into the next keenly anticipated stage of their training program – client project weeks.
Now it is the time for us to dive into the real world and solve the real business challenges with the tools and knowledge we have gained from previous training.
For 7 weeks, each week we will have a different client project to work on, and there will be a project leader to oversee the completion of the project. I volunteered to be this week’s project leader partly due to my naiveness and blind courage (a quite potent formula for self-destruction btw). Now that I look back, it was kind of a hasty decision haha.
All kidding aside, I signed up to gain experience and hone my leadership skill, teamwork, and communication skills. I like to step out of my comfort zone and try out new things (with a tint of suicidal tendency I admit). This was the perfect opportunity to do just that, so I regret nothing.
I am writing this blog because I want to reflect on what I did and did not do well on this week and give some insights for my friends in my cohort who are soon to be project leaders in the coming weeks.
Well, there is a very limited timeframe for us to work on the project. You start on Monday and deliver the project outcome on Friday, but we still have one and a half days allocated to training, so really you have about two and a half days for projects.
This project was about analyzing assessment performance for Catholic Education West Australia, and we needed to deliver multiple Power BI reports according to their specification. The requirement was straightforward, but the amount of data is huge.
Despite all the challenges the team finished the project not only on time but also did a hell of a job producing a highly informative and functional report, which the client was impressed with.
The first and foremost challenge was definitely the lack of experience, I did not know what to expect, everything was new to me I had to constantly explore by myself.
The second biggest obstacle was the language barrier. Yes, I had underestimated the effect of that. I was nervous when the clients were talking really fast and speaking long sentences. I could not hear everything he said, and it was an online meeting, so I was very concerned about the fact that I could not put together the project requirement which is the number one job for me as a leader. I guess from there the fear began to spread.
Then the anxiety got a bit out of hand, I lost my confidence, and the energy is low throughout the project week. I was inarticulate, my brain was starting to freeze up, and found it difficult to get my thoughts across, especially during the internal meeting where everyone started to look at me. My voice started to change because my throat was all tensed up. I could not realize my full potential It was a dark time for me.
These were the main challenges I faced.
Despite the communication kind of missing the target, I was able to be organized in terms of breaking down the tasks and keeping track of the progress.
I found myself often feeling tense throughout the project week. The challenge lies in realizing that it’s unrealistic to have all the answers, especially when tackling something for the first time. Setting expectations was my initial approach, and when things deviated from my envisioned path, frustration ensued, leading to self-doubt. To overcome this, I’ve learned the importance of establishing achievable goals from the start. Fulfilling the basic responsibilities as a leader and ensuring the project’s completion before the deadline is key.
Confidence plays a pivotal role, intertwined with team dynamics. The more actively and confidently I engage, the higher the team morale becomes. Active participation doesn’t necessarily mean making the most significant contribution; it involves participating in discussions, proactively addressing emerging issues, and projecting a positive image. Building trust within the team is crucial. When the team senses confidence and reliability, they can divert their focus from trivial matters and channel their energy into the tasks at hand.
Anyway, I hope this blog is helpful. If you have any questions for me, please do not hesitate to come to me. I am very happy to help and I want you to get the most out of it when you are leading the next project!