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Communication

How to Motivate Your Team

Becoming a project manager is a big step from simply working on projects. A PM usually has to juggle many different tasks, deadlines and resources – human resources being just one of these. Rather than simply doing a job to reach a goal, you need to delegate these jobs and motivate others to complete them.

Whilst training in Project Management will teach you processes, and the technical side of things, it’s always important to be aware of the above – that your new status will mean more people management. Taking the time for some specific management training will help you get more out of your team – and ensure the success of your project.  To get you started, here are our tips for motivating your team.

Communicate

Communication is critical in management – not only with the stakeholders above you, but with your team. To motivate them and ensure their hard work, you need to think about their preferred methods of communication and adapt your own behaviour accordingly. Although they are unlikely to ever realise what you’ve done in this respect, they will be motivated by it!

Be a Good Example

If you set the tone as a good communicator, hard worker, expert in your field and of being fair and just then your employees will respect you. If they lose this respect through any of these channels then they may not feel the drive to work as hard – either consciously or unconsciously.

Delegate

For those new to project management – or those who have perhaps lost sight of the importance of people management – it may be hard to delegate effectively and relinquish control. People work hard when they are given responsibility that they want to fulfil – so let them have it. It’s not only your job to motivate your team, but it’s not your job to do everything yourself.

Give Them Room to Grow

This may not be possible within smaller projects, but it is in larger ones and when you work with the same team regularly. Make sure you identify those who could be given more responsibility and/or promotions – establishing a culture of progression and growth is key to keeping people motivated.

Incentives

Fundamental to project management is breaking your main goals into smaller objectives. Make sure your staff are praised and rewarded (the praise can often be enough reward!) at each step of the way. Don’t allow them to doubt their performance if their performance is good.

Pick the Right Team

This should almost go without saying, but it’s the most crucial part of the process. Once you are in the position of choosing the right team for the project, you put responsibility for their performance back on yourself. It’s important, therefore, to think carefully about who is most suitable for the specific project at hand.

You will need to put some thought into who you’ve chosen, how they like to communicate, and what motivates them. You can then choose which of the tips above, and to what extent, will work to motivate different people.

Guest Post was written by: Andy Trainer,  whom works for Silicon Beach Training, leading providers of training in Management, Project Management and more.

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Importance of Communication in Project Management

Communication is such a vital part in any profession and industry that can ultimately end in success or failure in any project, as no matter how big or small a project is, the impacts can be felt across several different individuals and departments.  

This week, I have been asked to make a presentation to the students in an IT Project Management Class, taught at the University of Nevada, Reno, about the importance of Communication in Project Management. Some highlights of this presentation will include:
Poor Communication Can Lead to:
  • Duplicate Work
  • Unclear Expectations
  • Misunderstandings
  • Missed Opportunities: Delayed Go-Live Date for a Project
Effective Communication Includes:
  • Know your audience to tailor your communication to them (Top Executives vs. Project Team Members)
  • Make sure you’re talking to the right group of people
  • Keep your communication clear & to the point
  • Provide proper time to respond, question, and react to communication
What tips have helped you successfully to communicate with others?
 

Importance of Personal Relationships

This week I traveled to the big gaming show in Las Vegas called G2E, to sign up customers for our special “On the Floor” customer promotion for work.  I have never been to this show before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, other than that it would probably crowded with lots of people and slot machines.  One highlight of the trip I was looking forward to was getting to talk with our customers and put names with faces with so many of our company’s employees that I talk to on the phone or send e-mails to.  I feel it is important to take time to shake their hand, introduce myself, and learn a little more about them.  I feel it is all about the personal relationships that I find make my job exciting, as you feel that you actually communicating with helping real, live, breathing people, and not just a virtual relationship taking through technology.

Why Are Personal Relationships Importance?

  • Helps Builds Trust/Support Amongst Others
  • Makes Communicating With Others Easier
  • Great Networking
  • Builds Stronger, More Meaningful Business Relationships
  • Great For Your Mental Health When Socializing With Others.  We are social creatures and isolation is harmful.
  • Engage and Observe Verbal and Non-Verbal Behavioral Styles

Tips to Success When Meeting Others In Person:

  • Be aware, in person meetings allows others to evaluate and judge the integrity competencies and skills
  • Most effective communicators may not know everything, but they fine-tuned their speeches to reflect on an important niche where they are the experts
  • Listen to others to show interest in getting to know others and do not steal the show
  • You can’t meet with everyone, so maximize your time by meeting with a handful of people at a time, to make those relationships strong, not just a quick hi and hand shake
  • Follow-up after talking with them to thank them for the opportunity to meet them

What tips do you have when building personal relationships with your business colleagues?

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Importance of Sharing News Internally

At work, I manage projects that are focused around Customer Promotions, Pricing, and IT projects for a large international company with over 5,000 employees.  I will say, it always amazes me how you can go from a basic project idea, with a few people, to having touched so many different individuals and departments throughout the implementation of the project.

A few weeks ago, I was asked by a supervisor at my work to prepare an hour presentation to talk to his team about our customers promotions and a few other projects I manage.  I will say this presentation and other presentations I have given to departments are always an absolute honor and joy to do!  I love getting to meet new people, learn from others and what they do for our organization, gain some very insightful feedback, and enjoy providing others with helpful information that hopefully will make some part of their job easier.

Benefits of Internal Meetings:

  • Get A Different View From Other Users:  I have held several lessons learned sessions with my project team after a project was implemented and have gained great feedback and suggestions, but think it is important to also talk with other “behind the scenes” users and departments that are outside of your project team to hear how they are impacted and what their feedback is, as it can also be quite powerful information
    • For example:
      • I have talked to those that audit our sales orders to make sure they understand the promotion, so the orders can be scrubbed to verify they are entered correctly and met the requirements of the promotion
      • I have talked to several sales representatives to get their feedback on our customer promotions, ways to improve the rollout process, and ask if they have any new customer promotion ideas that we can look into implementing, as they have the best knowledge of our customer’s needs
      • I have talk to those that run reports based off our promotions to make sure they report the information correctly and understand what the results mean, as they send these report to upper management
  • Put Faces With Names: You may send several e-mails or talk to co-workers over the phone, but it is always nice to put a faces with a names, as it provides you an opportunity to get to know your fellow co-workers better and see their non-verbal communication in real-life
  • Build A Strong Human Network:  By meeting more and more new people, it allows you to build a strong network of “go-to” people to ask questions to, instead of just picking a random person in the corporate directory
  • Learn & Share Information: It allows you to share information with both parties to give each other heads up on any potential impacts of a given project and possibly help others in their day-to-day job responsibilities
  • Appreciate Others: By getting to meet others and learn how your projects impact others, you can paint a better picture in your mind on how many people are impacted by the projects you implement, which leads me to appreciate everyone and all of their behind the scenes and hard work even more

No matter how big or small a project is, the impacts can be felt across several different individuals and departments.  My advice is to take a moment, every now and then, and get to know others in your organization, as it helps build a tighter and stronger team, that results in helping everyone and the overall business in the end.

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Change Through Project Managers

As a project manager, we are constantly changing an existing process or creating new ones, as part of the implementation process of a project.  You may encounter resistance to these changes from a project team member or other individuals that are influenced by the project, which becomes a challenging task to try to convenience others why the change is necessary.    

Why Are People Resistance to Change?

  • Fear of the Unknown:  Example-The introduction of a new computer system may bring resistance by users as it introduces ambiguity into what was once a comfort zone for most using the old technology and becomes a problem when there is little or no communication about the change
  • Fear of Failure: Employees may fear that change will result in an increase workload, performance expectations,  or task difficulty, where they may question their own competencies for handling these
  • Fear of Loss: Employees may fear they are going to lose their job when introducing advanced technology, for example, as they feel their expertise is not relevant anymore by the installation of more user-friendly, networked information systems or lose the positive qualities or the individual enjoys in that career position
  • Personality Conflicts: When the change agent/project manager’s personality creates negative reactions or appears insensitive to employee concerns and feelings, employees feel their needs are not being taken into account
  • Disruption of Interpersonal Relationships: A new computerized system could replace the one-on-one interaction with a person, as a computer replaces the human’s processes with the touch of a few buttons on the computer

How to Manage Resistance to Change?

  • Communication: Let others know of the impending change, which includes the details of the change and the rationale behind the change, as employees will want to know why the change is needed.  Answer the 5-P’s (Who, What When, Why, Where) If there is no good reason for the change, then why should others favor the change?
  • Participation: Involve those effected in the change in the project process, as a sense of ownership is established and they become more committed to the change, as they played a role in the process
  • Empathy & Support: Actively listen to identify the reasons behind the resistance to uncover each person’s fears, which can provide you with feedback that you can use to improve the change process.  Emotional support and encouragement through a the project manager can help reduce the resistance, as they know someone cares about their concerns

Tips:

  • Plan for Resistance and be ready with a variety of strategies for using the resistance as feedback and helping employees negotiate the transition
  • Put yourself in other people’s shoes in what you are signing others up to change/do
  • Take note of all feedback you receive from those that are resistance to see what you can do to help them reduce or eliminate their resistance
  • Demonstrate/Visuals of how the new changes will help them (New Software Program in Action/Training Session), as seeing can lead towards believing

 What tips have helped you to better manage resistance to change from others?

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Weeds in Project Management

What are Weeds?  Are they useless, ugly things that people decide to removed from their garden to prevent them from taking over their garden? 

Did You Know There Are Useful Weeds? I do not have a degree in botany, but have read articles about plants, some of which we would determine as weeds & remove, but some weeds do have uses to help in cure several health issues or even can be used in crafts.  For example: Dandelions: The petals are edible and used as garnish in a salad.  You can also make tea and wine from them.

So, How does Weeds Tie Back to Project Management?

As a project manager, we manage several individuals to help us to meet the end goals of the project, so ponder these questions with me:

  1. If a project team member does not meet their deadline, do you address the issue, or let it go, so that others knows that is an acceptable practice?  This behavior can then spread throughout the team like weeds in a garden.
  2. How do you know which project team member would bring the best value to a project versus someone else?  How do you know which person/plant to add to your garden, leave/continue to grow in your garden/team or remove from your garden/team?
  3. Do you know everyone’s strengths & weaknesses that they bring to a project team, so each team member is shown in the best light or best utilized?  If you knew that a team member/plant has experience/uses in something that would best bring value to the team/garden, wouldn’t it be good to know, so you can utilize that extra resource/use in your project?

What if a project team member:

  •  Does not have the best communication skills to win the best first impression award, but they may be an excellent IT programmer
  • Does not have the best time management skills, but they have a large vast of knowledge and experience in the project’s topic and willing to share
  • Does not work best in a large meeting environment to brainstorm ideas, but feels more comfortable communicating through e-mail or a one-on-one meeting environment

People could be thought of as an analogy to weeds, as we come in variety of different shapes, sizes, colors and each have different uses. We are not perfect, as each of us have our strengths, weaknesses, and best working practices we each can bring to the table.  Do you just give up on someone or hope they just go away like a weed or remove them from your project team?  With any project, each team member is working towards the same end goal, so helping and learning from each other to make everyone shine best in their light, makes the team stronger and sets up everyone up for success.

Maybe I just provided you with a great excuse to get you out of removing any further weeds out of your garden now?!  🙂  Maybe also a different way of thinking of project team members as a project manager?! 🙂 Please share your comments below, as I would love to hear from you.

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Can You Hear Me Now?

As a project manager, you may be bombarded with several concerns, opinions, thoughts from all directions from all sorts of individuals, so how can you keep focus and give your undivided attention to all?  It’s quite a hard question, as listening is a skill that each of us need to constantly work on to improve.  Below are some tips that may be of help to you:

  1. Stop Talking. You cannot listen if your mouth is moving
  2. Focus your Eyes on the Person that is Talking.  This shows respect for the person you are talking to, by giving your undivided attention all focused on them
  3. Remove all Distractions, such as, locking your computer so you can’t see e-mails pop up or work displayed on your computer screen, closing your door from outside noise, don’t answer any phone calls, trying to guess what the speaker will say next, etc.
  4. Smile!!  By smiling you help to put the speaker at ease, so they feel more comfortable and relaxed talking to you
  5. Empathize with the speaker by putting yourself in the speaker’s shoes
  6. Learn To Be Patient, as not every person delivers the message at the same pace
  7. Hold your Temper and don’t just fly off the handle, as the speaker may not what to come and share news with you in the future, as they don’t want to upset you
  8. Easy on Criticism, as criticizing the speaker can suppress the communication flow
  9. Avoid Early Evaluation.  Listen to everything the speaker has to say, without making immediate judgments on that speaker.
  10. Ask questions! Paraphrase and clarify the speaker’s message, as this not only makes sure you understood what the speaker said, it also shows the speaker you were listening to what they were saying
  11. Make sure the speaker has completely finished their message before you interrupt the speaker, as this no only shows respect, but helps the speaker make sure they are able to say all they wanted to tell you
  12. Thank the Person for coming to talk with you and sharing the news so you are aware

 When was the last time you had a difficult time communicating with someone at work, school, or even in your personal life?  Review the list above and evaluate the situation to see which ones that could of helped to improve the situation.  We all want to feel like someone is listening to us and shows they care, so make sure you show someone else that same respect by listening that you would want to receive in return.

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