- Move from a position of telling to asking.
- Work to build open and trusting communication; don't blame.
- Instead of using control tools such as schedules as a target to measure, use them as a means to collaborate.
- Be prepared to forgive mistakes -- encouraging creativity always has the possibility of the idea not working.
- How reliable is our information?
- What changes do we need to create in the stakeholder community?
- Where are the risks and threats within the community?
- How can we make the changes we need?
- How can we minimize any opposition and damage?
- Respecting and trusting his players -- garnering responsible behaviors in return
- Allowing time for life beyond cricket, resulting in a fresh enthusiasm for both the training regime and the game
- Setting high expectations, but using a supportive style to encourage striving for excellence rather than demanding excellence
- The government's desire to look good by reducing patient waiting time
- The hospitals' desire to achieve the maximum budget income for the year
- The administrators' desire, both in the hospital and the government, to avoid rocking the boat
- The KPIs you choose communicate to stakeholders what you think is most important. What is easy to measure is not necessarily important.
- What you choose to measure will change behaviors. Focus on things that matter, such as value and benefits, not easy-to-measure statistics, such as time and cost.
- Make sure the data is validated.
- A KPI system cannot solve the problem, but it can be a powerful facilitator of solutions if it's set to measure the right statistics and ask the right questions.
- Gold Medal: Covers the things that matter directly to people, including pride, achievement, praise or humiliation.
- Silver Medal: Centers on the purpose and mission of the organization and what matters to the overall business. It considers what will help or hinder us in pursuit of our goals. Examples might include profits, market share or brand image.
- Steel Medal: Considers the effects on the quality or fitness for purpose of what we're doing, either positive or negative.
- Glass Medal: Looks at impacts on our ability to innovate and change to do things in a new or improved way.
- Wood Medal: Draws attention to the environment in the broadest sense, describing positive or negative effects of our decisions or actions on the world around us.
- Brass Medal: Asks whether there's any resulting change in the way we and others perceive or are perceived.
- Gold: Issue an internal news item showing the CEO cooperating with the project despite the inconvenience.
- Steel: Make sure the duct is accessible in future without demolition work.
- Glass: Use the repairs to offer an opportunity to update the CEO's office color scheme incorporating her preferences.
- Stifles your talent and limits your opportunities for advancement
- Twists circumstances and conversations to their benefit
- Punishes you for a mistake rather than help you correct it
- Reminds you constantly or publicly of a disappointing experience or unmet expectation
- Takes credit or withholds recognition for new ideas and extra effort
- Focuses solely on meeting their goals and does so at your expense
- Fails to respect your need for personal space and time
- Manage your time. Set a limit on the amount of time you spend beyond the hours needed to complete the project work. For example, you should politely but firmly decline an invitation to a peripheral meeting.
- Express yourself. Reveal aspects of your personality that reinforce your values. Sometimes it's a matter of letting people in a little bit to help keep your boundaries intact. If aggressive behavior offends you, say so (in a firm, but non-aggressive way), but you also need to consistently act in an assertive (rather than aggressive) way.
- Build your reputation, and do it carefully and consistently. Everyone plays a role at work. Your co-workers should know what you stand for and what to expect from you. Then, don't waiver. Authenticity is the key -- behave in the way you expect others to treat you.
- Change the conversation. Stay focused on the project and away from nonproductive behavior. Avoid gossip, criticism and other negative conversations by simply stating: "I don't really have time to discuss that just now, but I really do need your input on this project issue." If the attack is on you personally, ask to "take the conversation off line and focus on this important project matter now."
- If you can't see and articulate how the change is actually going to work, it probably won't work. Explain "how" and keep explaining to everyone affected by the project's outcomes.
- While it's painful to integrate change management planning into your project planning, it's even more painful to watch your project fail. Make sure all aspects of the change are covered in your project plan or the associated change management plan -- and that the two plans are coordinated.
- Keep explaining the "whys" behind the change. Once is never enough! You need a well-thought-out and implemented communication plan.
- The only antidote to scaremongering is information. And that information needs to be accurate and believed. What's actually going to happen is never as bad as the things people imagine "might happen" in the absence of easy-to-understand, well-communicated facts.
- Delegating. Some tasks are simply better delegated to an expert who knows how to do the job well and quickly. I'm sure everyone could learn to use pivot tables in Excel. But is it worth several hours of struggle when a knowledgeable expert — even if it's the most junior team member — can solve the issue in a few minutes?
- Engaging team members. Ask a team member to talk you through a challenge he or she is working on. You'll get the lowdown on the task at hand, and good insights into how he or she works.
- Stop talking to yourself and decide that you are going to talk to someone else.
- Decide who that will be.
- Craft the conversation. Write down what you are going to ask them and how you hope they will respond.
- Schedule a meeting with the person and promise yourself you'll ask him or her for help and be open to his or her suggestions.
- Tell someone else of your intentions; someone who will hold you accountable for having the meeting and asking for help.
- Understand it — it has to be realistic to them.
- Know their teammates and other stakeholders will like and commit to it.
- Get excited about it.
- Believe they can make it happen.
- Once upon a time...
- Example: The project risk register identified...
- But one day, something changed...
- Example: The recent findings have escalated this risk significantly by...
- Because of that... (This is repeated as many times as you wish.)
- Example: Because of this, we have had to change...
- And then _____ occurred.
- Example: This change caused...
- Until finally...
- Example: Which means the project must...
- And the moral of the story is...
- Example: And we need your approval to implement these recommendations.
- The ethical culture of a team is unlikely to be any stronger than the standard set by the team leader, and is usually slightly less ethical.
- The ethical culture of a less senior leader is unlikely to be any stronger than the standard set by the senior leader, and is usually slightly less ethical.
- Positive reinforcement, such as praising people for notifying you of a mistake they have made.
- Encouragement of open reporting of "bad news" in any form.
- Establishment of systems that strongly encourage ethical behaviors, such as refusing to allow derogatory remarks in any form (jokes included). This would require backing by formal systems, such as clearly defined and protected "whistle blower" procedures.
- Each stakeholder needs something from the project to further his or her interests, or alternatively, needs nothing from the project.
- The project requires the active support (assistance or resources) of the important stakeholders, or alternatively, requires nothing from the stakeholder.
- Project needs nothing/stakeholder needs nothing: Stakeholders in this quadrant are usually protesters. In this case, you have two communication options: You may be able to defuse their opposition by providing better information, but this only works if the protesting is based on false assumptions. Otherwise, you may choose to limit communication with the stakeholder whilst keeping the communication channels open.
- Project needs nothing/stakeholder needs something: The stakeholders in this quadrant are the easiest to manage from a communication perspective. You are already providing their requirements as part of the project deliverables. All that's required is to provide reassurance that their needs will be fulfilled. If their requirements are outside of the project's scope, the stakeholder should initiate a change request.
- Project needs something/stakeholder needs something: This group needs active management. Project communication must clearly link the stakeholder's support or resources to how the project fulfills his or her requirements. Take the time needed to develop robust relationships to facilitate cooperation.
- Project needs something/stakeholder needs nothing: Stakeholders in this quadrant are a major risk. They're typically regulatory authorities, or people who have to inspect or approve the project's work as part of their business. Carefully build a proper professional relationship that respects the integrity of the stakeholder's position while at the same time ensuring your communications are received and acted upon.
Every project manager and team leader wants to direct a team of motivated people. And many team leaders probably know that the most powerful forms of motivation -- autonomy, mastery and purpose -- center around self-actualization.
So as a project manager or team leader, it's up to you to facilitate these circumstances for each member of your project team. To do this, you need effective communication in three key areas:
1. Comprehension. Make sure the person assigned to a task understands the work and measures of success, and agrees he or she can achieve the desired outcome.
Asking the team member questions and listening to his or her suggestions on how to best accomplish the work helps develop the team member's sense of ownership associated with autonomy.
2. Acknowledgement. Everyone likes to feel they have accomplished something in their workday. Facilitating this feeling is part management -- minimizing interruptions and diversions -- and part communication.
Make sure a team member's progress is acknowledged on a regular basis and "accidentally" catch the person doing something right. You have to notice and rectify errors in performance. Balance this negativity by acknowledging positives. This is a daily process to keep the team motivated and focused.
3. Purpose. Change is inevitable in project management, and it's up to you to maintain a sense of purpose throughout a project's lifecycle. The challenge usually comes when you have to move a project team member to another role or change his or her objectives. This can be especially frustrating if the team member has developed a sense of purpose around his or her overall project objectives and work.
If you simply instruct people to change, you risk damaging or destroying motivation. Instead, communicate these four points:
- The problem with the current situation, and the consequences of not changing.
- The reason the proposed change has been preferred over the other available options.
- The expected benefits from adopting the change.
- The contribution the person can make while achieving the new objective.
- John, we need your help in testing. Mary is out sick and the schedule is weeks behind. If we don't catch up, the whole project will be delayed.
- I'm asking you to help because you have more experience in testing than anyone else.
- With your skills in testing and your knowledge of the development, I'm sure we will be able to recover the lost time in testing with minimal disruption to the development effort.
- With good management all around, I'm hoping this change will prevent a delayed completion, but we need you to make this possible. Are you willing to help?
Above all, communicating to motivate has to be authentic to be effective, and it need not require too much time and effort. Plus, the extra time spent motivating will be more than repaid in better team performance.
How do you keep stakeholders happy on your project team?
The challenge of effective communication is keeping a consistent point and changing your presentation and rhythm to avoid becoming boring.
Great communicators use a similar approach to great music. It does not matter if you listen to Beethoven's "Symphony No. 5" or Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." You find consistency and variety in both. Patches of high intensity contrasted with quieter movements create a memorable and complete masterpiece.
The same effect can be achieved in your communication by balancing positive and negative elements of a message or changing the direction of the information flow.
For example, if you want someone to stop an undesirable behavior, point out the problem, but also highlight the benefits of the change you want to occur. Or rather than telling the team they are behind schedule, change the direction of the information flow and ask them for ideas to regain the lost time. The point you are making is consistent, but the variety in presentation leads to engagement.
Another key element is to finish on a high note. Great music does not fade away. It builds to a crescendo!
Great communicators such as Martin Luther King Jr. or Winston Churchill had a consistent, heartfelt message they communicated in a way that would create a strong reaction in their listeners.
Both had different speaking styles, but each had a real sense of rhythm and performance. Their speeches are carefully crafted for effect, but the presentation adds enormous weight to the message.
While you may never need to 'fight on the landing fields' or 'have a dream' to change a nation, taking the time to think through how you will present the information in your communication in a way that is engaging and memorable will help you be more effective in getting your message across to your audience.
Do you spend more time drafting your message or thinking about how you will communicate the message?
Chances are that the only information the executives received about your meeting was the agenda and the briefing notes, which focus on the project's status and technical performance. This is abstract data that takes time to read and understand. As a consequence, it becomes paperwork that is put aside to read later, buried under other paperwork and eventually forgotten.
To be successful in attracting the attention of busy executives, focus on a 30-second 'wake-up call' that will cut through the thousands of other messages circulating in your organization and get the executives attention. You cannot communicate unless you get the other person's attention first; so your 'call' must persuade each member of the committee to be both physically and mentally present for your meeting. Only then will your more complex messages be heard and possibly acted upon.
The solution is 'What's In It For Me' (WIFM).
WIFM appeals directly to the attention and decision-making functions of the human brain. The amygdala, a part of the brain, rules much of our actions and behavior.
The amygdala determines in a fraction of a second what we pay attention to. It will pay no attention at all unless it can immediately see WIFM. To cut through each executive's communication overload, your 30-second 'wake-up call' needs to be direct and simple and appeal to the person's emotions. Pleasure and fear are equally effective emotions, so the call should worry the executive--or make him or her feel good. It should not focus on a third party, such as you or your project.
The amygdala is expert at screening everything that doesn't directly interest it, including things that are abstract, complex or about someone else. Uninteresting or confusing messages are rejected in the blink of an eye, before the rational and analytical areas of the brain have a chance to begin the thinking process.
Only after you have gained the executive's attention can you engage with the person and deal with the substance of the meeting. Strong messages start this process, but the real work of the meeting will require the use of more highly crafted forms of communication built around the concept of effectively 'advising upwards.'
Ask yourself: 'Are we getting the attention of those most important to us?' If you are getting attention, are you keeping it and building it? And if you don't know, what can you do to find out?
The only significant difference that was noted from the last 2,000 years is the proliferation of formal tools and techniques we now use compared to the 'seat of the pants' (or should that be toga?) approach used by Roman managers.
However, in my opinion, the authors, Derek Walker and Christopher Dart could have added a few more differences.
For example, the simpler social structures of the Roman era provided a direct link between project initiator and the manager responsible for the work. For major works, the emperor would frequently be the person directly funding the project. He would also appoint the manager. Another way projects were launched: To enhance his or her prestige, a benefactor funded other projects.
The appointed manager bore personal responsibility for the project's success. Interestingly, he also had to lobby for the unpaid appointment. The manager's prestige and the standing of his family for generations to come could be influenced by success or failure of a significant project.
Most of the actual work was contracted to commercial organizations on similar terms. The contractor was obliged to complete the work for the price agreed upon by both parties. Failure could literally have fatal consequences for the contractor and serious consequences for his descendants.
Probably the most significant difference between the Romans and today's project professionals was the overall commitment to success demonstrated by the Romans. There were direct lines of accountability from the benefactor funding the project to the contractors delivering the work. Everyone's prestige was at stake.
Today, the complexity of modern organizations and multiple competing objectives tends to obscure the link between a project and the organization's overall strategy.
Most project managers are committed to the success of their projects. But this commitment is not necessarily reflected in the higher levels of the organization, as evidenced by the number of articles on 'selling' the benefits of a project to organizational management.
When there is a clarity of purpose, such as building the London Olympics, remarkable results can still be achieved. Unfortunately, within the matrix structures common in most organizations, in my opinion, one of the real challenges is finding a 21st century way to recapture the Roman's top to bottom commitment to the success of each project.
How do you think this level of stakeholder alignment could be achieved in your organization?