Turkey, stuffing, and pie are Thanksgiving staples, but communication? It turns out that good communication channels are crucial to putting on a first-rate holiday event. Here we’ll look at the strategies Thanksgiving planners use and how they jive with good project management.
As PMOs develop and tweak their project management training programs, there are often a handful of core areas that are overlooked. Whether it’s because many project managers have already received foundational instruction in these areas or because most project management training is focused on other competencies, these baseline skills are crucial to project management success. One of these areas is communication, a vital skill for any team but one that is frequently discounted or ignored.
The what: Too often, communication training focuses on negotiation tactics and presentation skills. For truly effective team communication, project managers must be able to develop and employ solid listening techniques. They also need to understand how their communication skills contribute to the team’s accomplishments, as well as how to use appropriate communication strategies to successfully resolve conflicts (both within the group and with external partners).
The why: A deep understanding—of user needs, of stakeholder and coworker concerns, of potential project limitations—are all necessary for repeated project success. Project managers with sagging proficiency in the communication arena will often create the same obstacles for the group—such as the prolonged needs assessments that may result from poor listening skills—over and over again. But with all the other areas project managers must master, it’s easy to overlook communication skills as being less important than they really are. By regularly nurturing and expanding this fundamental area of expertise, project teams have more tools available to them in overcoming challenges and working together to solve problems.
The how: Continuous development of good communication skills is crucial for project success. Along with targeted communication courses, consider adding components of communication training to other educational offerings. Planning and risk management modules, with their strong attention to communicating well and accurately, may be good opportunities to provide team members with additional coaching in communication best practices.
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Much of project management consulting centers around negotiation—objectives, expectations, timeframe, and budget. There are occasions where negotiation may be impossible, such as when budget limitations simply won’t allow additional money to be approved, but sometimes plain human stubbornness keeps the team from making progress. When someone comes to the table refusing to negotiate on key points, project professionals should keep a few things in mind as they try to move the discussion forward.
1 – Even hard data might not sway them
Before you dedicate significant time or energy to gathering data that supports your viewpoint, remember that stubbornness is sometimes immune to empirical evidence. Facts won’t always unseat deeply held ideas, concerns, or opinions.
2 – Ask and listen
Because data might not be enough to change a stubborn person’s mind, see if you can get to the root of why they’re stuck on a particular point of view. Turn the tables and pull information from them by asking about their experiences and perspectives. They might divulge something that points you toward an acceptable compromise or workable solution.
3 – Public opinion could work in your favor
You alone may not be able to bring enough pressure to bear to convince a stubborn person to back down or to secure a compromise. In these cases, consider rallying others to support your cause. This could take the form of user surveys, or it might require getting the senior leadership on your side.
4 – They might not actually be stubborn
There’s a chance they’re stuck on a particular issue because their boss or other influencer has an agenda. As you discuss why they hold such a firm perspective, try to determine if someone else is at work behind the scenes. If so, you’ll likely need to address that person directly before progress can be made.
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We’ve already talked about why it isn’t necessary to see eye to eye to still be a successful project team (project-management-teamwork-when-good-confrontation-goes-bad) and (5-tips-to-neutralize-personality-conflicts-within-your-team), but if conflict is disrupting your PMO, maybe it’s time to dig into why folks aren’t getting along. Determining your team’s triggers could help you find a way to channel useless bickering and unnecessary disagreements toward more productive discussions.
It may seem as though there’s very little “collaboration” with an executive team—they say, you do. But in reality, your PMO and the executives have a two-way relationship. At any given time, the executive team might be your stakeholder, your project’s biggest supporter, the last stop for funding approval, and sometimes even your end user. Developing a good partnership between your PMO and the executives will help achieve objectives on both sides.
Project teams rely on a number of internal groups, not least of which is IT. Anyone whose laptop has died on a business trip knows how important the IT team is to keeping your PMO and its technology components running smoothly. Follow the guidelines below to maintain good communication with IT and ensure their technical resources are there when you need them.
Are you a project manager with a job you love but a bunch of coworkers you can’t stand? Maybe they’re a tightly knit group that’s slow to accept outsiders, or perhaps they expect you to shoulder more than your share of the workload. Whatever the reason, it’s a drag to go into the office every day knowing your best shot at happiness is to avoid everyone you work with. Rather than let a bad team vibe ruin an otherwise great job, we’ve put together some tips to help you keep the peace, remain politically neutral, and learn to love (or at least tolerate) your coworkers.
Good communication is the foundation that keeps your project management team moving forward. But as our communication options expand, our ability to match the method to the need sometimes becomes fuzzy. Here we’ve outlined the top 3 communication methods, along with dos and don’ts for each.
Many people think confrontation is something to be rooted out and stopped. On the contrary, the right kinds of confrontation can actually make your project management team more productive and your project more successful. Before you decide to invite your coworkers over for a grudge match, be sure you’re supporting the good sort of confrontation, and preventing the bad kind from hampering your team’s efforts.
Project management consulting professionals are generally organized, skilled, and highly driven. Any time you have several of these strong personality types working together on a team, you’re bound to discover some tension. How do you keep these self-motivated people working toward the same objectives without letting their personalities hinder progress?