Let's just put it on the table: Difficult conversations suck. |
But on the other hand, if it weren't for difficult conversations, many of us wouldn't have a job. As project managers, one of our main jobs is to help our teams identify, solve, and resolve issues. And inevitably, that means that we will have to be the conduit for information that someone will find disagreeable.
It can be tempting to avoid that conflict, to just "do the best we can"
until we can't anymore. It may be emotionally satisfying to be as disagreeable as the information is
temporarily. Ultimately, though, a successful project manager will find ways to convey disagreeable information agreeably, and to use those difficult conversations to move forward.
Anything less means you're leaving the best part of your value to the project sitting on the table, right next to those uncomfortable conversations you never had.
Wisdom, Perspective, and Advice from the Field
by Kent McDonald
Few things are as intimidating to a new agile coach as a completely silent room. When the rest of the team simply isn't speaking up, the temptation to fill that silence can be overwhelming. RESIST! In his column this week, Kent McDonald explains how to use that silence to your advantage, even when it's painfully uncomfortable to do so. Learn from Zac's painful retrospective experiences, and share advice from your own.
Read More »
System Suspended, Please Locate Competent Operator - Code Review Guidelines – PREMIUM
This would be an example of a poorly phrased error message. As amusing as it might seem when you're coding at 2am, it's a good illustration of the wisdom of code reviews. But how do you turn a potentially contentious exercise ("Don't you trust me?!") into a productive one? This guideline outlines detailed processes and checklists for making detailed deliverable reviews an objective and necessary component of your project's quality controls.
Being a Business-Driven Business-Savvy PM (the kind Execs adore)
How to Interview the Project Sponsor
by Doug DeCarlo
What is your project sponsor really after? What do they want? What you have on that paper, in that email, from your functional manager's project assignment, may not be as accurate as you'd like. Never, ever accept someone else's interpretation of what the sponsor is looking for. Don't skip the conversation just because your sponsor is hard to reach or hard to talk to. It's worth the time it will take you to get it straight from the horse's mouth. Here's how.
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Achieving "Just Enough" PM (Your team will thank you for it)
Recording Key Project Decisions – SPECIAL
This Premium resource is free to registered Members until June 26, 2014
Once you've had that painful conversation, wouldn't it be nice to avoid repeating it next month? This file provides several formats for recording key decisions in various contexts, as well as tips for using features in common project management and collaboration tools to maintain this critical piece of project history.
Daily Hot-List Meetings – PREMIUM
You've done everything you can to keep people from feeling over-managed, but with a deadline staring you in the face, you really do need to keep everyone on the same page. Here's a great way to instill and reinforce a sense of urgency in your team without wearing out your welcome. This technique describes Cinda's favorite technique for employing fast, productive daily meetings that keep everyone in sync without sinking anyone's time.
Personal Power Tools! (Grow critical strengths and keep your sanity, too!)
Project Manager Coaching Guidelines – PREMIUM
Asking for help can be one of the scariest things we do at work. No one wants to look incompetent or needy, after all. But it can also be one of the smartest and most productive things we do. After all, everyone had to start somewhere. It may help if you approach your prospective coach with ideas for setting up and carrying out a structured coaching arrangement. This guideline will walk you through it.
Say NO to Silos – Making the Functional-Project Matrix WORK!
Matrix Management Reinvented – MEMBER
Need a prescription for matrix management that actually works? Here's a different look at cross-functional organizations, focusing on alignment with strategic objectives and customers rather than just rearranging the organizational chart.
Establishing Ground Rules for Issue Escalation – PREMIUM
This worksheet guides the project manager, team members, and project sponsor through a matter-of-fact discussion establishing ground rules for communicating emerging project issues. Establishing ground rules early in the project can help reduce fear of escalating critical issues later in the project when tensions are higher.
Spotlight – Other Project Templates, Tools, and Techniques
Sometimes, the hardest part of the conversation is getting it started. These tools are great for kickstarting touchy, scary, or just plain frustrating conversations without painting anyone as a bad guy.
- Project Risk Checklist - Scared of risk? Use this checklist to prompt the conversation with your team. – MEMBER
- Responsibility Allocation Matrix - Who owes what to whom, and when? This worksheet asks all project team members to consider their key project tasks, the inputs they need, and the outputs they expect to deliver. – PREMIUM
- Review Meeting Planning Worksheet - Make sure you get what you need out of the meeting it took you so long to arrange. – MEMBER
- Root Cause Analysis Checklist - Taking a methodical approach to a search for the root cause takes time at first, but saves time, effort, and probably money down the road. – PREMIUM
Premium How-To Course
Rewarding, Recognizing, and Energizing Your Team Members
Presented by Mike Aucoin
Money can't buy happiness -- or team cooperation and engagement, as it turns out. So how can you keep your team members energized and show them that their effort is noticed and appreciated, without resorting to hokey rah-rah? With creativity, a personal connection, and a little up-front planning.
This course by Mike Aucoin, author of Right-Brain Project Management, explains the different forms motivation can take, and how (and why) things like a compelling purpose can inspire far more than the desire to receive rewards. 1 PDU
Learn more »
Randy Englund and co-author Alfonso Bucero present a four-day seminar on "Integrating People, Organizational and Technical Skills: the Complete Project Manager" in Orlando, Florida June 23-26 for PMI's MEGA SeminarsWorld. Register now with 20% discount code AB20.
Randy and Alfonso are also teaming up to organize "Project Management Soft Skills Days in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, September 18-20. The event will be for project leaders, upper managers and executives who want to become more complete and effective leaders. For more information, please contact them by email.
Corporate Subscriptions and Licensing
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