Power and Politics in Project Management

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Power and Politics in Project Management Powered By Docstoc
					                   Human Resource Skills for the Project Manager
                               By Vijay K. Verma

Improving written messages:
    Determine when to put your messages in writing
          o When conveying complex information or data
          o When communicating information requiring future action from team
          o When it‟s the receiver‟s preferred communication style
          o When communicating information regarding company policies
          o When conveying a message that could be misunderstood
    Make your messages easy to read
          o Divide the message into 3, 4 or 5 major topics; each major topic may
              contain 3, 4 or 5 subtopics with appropriate headings
          o Each topic should be limited to 3, 4 or 5 paragraphs
          o Each paragraph should contain only 3, 4 or 5 sentences
          o Each sentence should contain no more than 35 words
          o Ask yourself, “Would I say what I have written?” Would YOU take the
              time to read it?
          o Write with a “you” attitude, not a “me” attitude; make it easy for reader to
              understand. Use specific examples to bring your points to life.
          o Write your conclusions first, and refine all information to bring your
              conclusions into focus

Use communication to increase your personal power:
    Front-load your message. Put up front what matters to your audience. Use the
      receiver‟s name.
    Use concise language and stick to the point. Use active voice instead of passive
      voice because passive voice is powerless.
    Use powerful visual language to paint a picture of what you want to
      communicate; use anecdotes or stories to illustrate your message.
    Watch out for “is” and “but”. Use “and” instead of “but” if possible. “But”
      negates what you said before it and weakens what follows. “Is” is passive voice.
    Use persuasive language.
    Own the message and show confidence. Tell what you CAN do rather than what
      you CAN‟T.
    Avoid jargon and acronyms

Main elements of a GREAT meeting:
    G: Goals for the meeting should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable,
       Results-oriented and Timely)
    R: Roles and rules—roles should be rotated among project team members so that
       everyone gets an opportunity to show leadership. Ground rules for discussion
       should be agreed upon beforehand.
    E: Expectations should be clearly defined.
    A: Agendas should be distributed in advance.

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      T: Time is money so be sensitive to the team member‟s scheduling needs. Keep
       it brief; begin and end on time.

Three concerns project team members may have about project manager:
   1. Does the project manager really know the team members, their ambitions and
       their family and individual needs?
   2. Is the project manager willing to listen to the problems of project team members,
       and make a sincere and honest attempt to help them find a way to solve the
   3. Can the project manager be trusted to keep everything between them confidential?

Tips on effective counseling in a project:
    Keep communication channels open and honest in all directions (up, down,
    Avoid arguments and displays of temper with project stakeholders
    If wrong, be ready to apologize. Be quick to forgive a colleague even if he or she
       was unreasonable. Remember that you, as a project manager, will always need
       their help and cooperation.
    Be objective and focus on problems and issues and not on people and
    Enrich the returns of project participates by sharing success with others. And, by
       sharing their sorrows, capture their respect.

Body language signals and how they can be interpreted:
    Pointing—as aggressiveness
    Sighing—as impatience, boredom or grief
    Scratching head or face—as uncertainty or risk
    Concealing mouth with hands—as uncertainty about words—or as dishonesty
    Bending forward—as interest
    Leaning back with hands behind head—as superiority or confidence
    Clenched fists or crossed arms—as defensive attitude
    Rubbing hands—as expectation

Active listening in a nutshell:
    A: Attention (reduce distractions)
    C: Concern (for the person, process and project objectives)
    T: Timing appropriate (choose time when neither party is preoccupied)
    I: Involvement (mental and emotional)
    V: Vocal tones (represent 38% of message)
    E: Eye contact (shows you are paying attention)

      L: Look (observe body language)
      I: Interest (take interest in other person as human being)
      S: Summarize (play back to confirm and verify real meaning of message)
      T: Territory (manager space appropriately; lean forward to reduce distance)

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      E: Empathy (listen “between the words” to understand feelings)
      N: Nod (to show that you understand)

Components of the project manager‟s motivation to manage:
   Favorable attitude toward authority
   Desire to compete with other managers
   Assertive motivation to take charge, make decisions and take disciplinary action
     when needed
   Desire to exercise power
   Desire for distinctive position
   Sense of responsibility

Motivational ideas while managing projects:
   Use appropriate methods of reinforcement
   Eliminate unnecessary threats and punishments
   Assign project personnel some responsibility and hold them accountable
   Encourage employees to set their own goals
   Relate tasks to personal and organizational goals
   Clarify expectations and ensure project team members understand them
   Encourage project participates to engage in novel and challenging activities
   Don‟t eliminate anxiety completely
   Don‟t believe that “liking” is always correlated with positive performance
   Individualize your supervision
   Provide immediate and relevant feedback
   Exhibit confidence in project team
   Show interest in each team member and their knowledge
   Encourage individuals to participate in making decisions that affect them
   Establish a climate of trust and open communications
   Minimize use of statutory position powers
   Listen to and deal effectively with employee complaints
   Emphasize the need for improvements in performance, no matter how small
   Demonstrate your own motivation through behavior and attitude
   Criticize behavior, not people

Motivational techniques in a nutshell:
   M: Manifest confidence when delegating (helps build mutual trust)
   O: Open communication (increases mutual understanding and respect)
   T: Tolerance for failure (develops creativity)
   I: Involve project participants (increase acceptance and commitment)
   V: Value the efforts and recognize good performance (what gets rewarded, gets
   A: Align project objectives to individual‟s objectives (people are eager to satisfy
      their needs)
   T: Trust your team members and be trustworthy (vital for motivation)

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      E: Empower project team members appropriately (especially for decision making
       and implementation)

Views of conflict:
    Traditional view—conflict is bad and always has negative impact on project or
    Behavioral or contemporary view—conflict is natural and inevitable in all
      organizations; may have either positive or negative effect.
    Interactionist view—assumes conflict is necessary to increase performance

Positive aspects of conflict:
    Diffuses more serious conflicts
    Fosters change and creativity as new options are explored
    Enhances communication if both parties are committed to mutual gain
    Increases performance, energy and group cohesion
    Balances power and influence if collaborative problem solving techniques are
    Clarifies issues and goals

Affirmative answers to following suggest potential need for conflict stimulation:
    Are you surrounded by “yes people”?
    Are project team members afraid to admit ignorance and uncertainties to you?
    Is there too much emphasis on reaching a compromise that may lead to losing
       sight of values, long-term objectives, or the project‟s welfare?
    Are project managers more concerned in maintaining the impression of peace and
       cooperation in their projects, regardless of price?
    Is there an excessive concern by decision makers for not hurting the feelings of
    Do project managers believe that popularity and politics are more important for
       obtaining organizational rewards than competence and high performance?
    Are project managers unduly enamored of obtaining consensus for their
    Do project team members show unusually high resistance to change?
    Is there a lack of new ideas, creativity and innovation?
    Is there an unusually low level of turnover among project team members?

Ways to stimulate conflict:
   Accept conflict as desirable on certain occasions
   Bring new individuals into an existing situation
   Restructure the organization
   Introduce programs designed to increase competition
   Introduce programmed conflict (using “devils advocate” etc)

Conflict management styles:
    Withdrawing/avoiding

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          o Retreats from an actual or potential conflict situation
          o Does not solve the problem
      Smoothing/accommodating
          o Emphasizes areas of agreement rather than areas of areas of difference
          o Provides only short-term solution
      Compromising
          o Searches for and bargains for solutions that bring some degree of
              satisfaction to all parties
          o Does provided definitive resolution
      Forcing
          o Pushes one viewpoint at the expense of others
          o Offers only win-lose solutions
          o Hard feelings may come back in other forms
      Collaborating
          o Incorporates multiple viewpoints and insights from differing perspectives
          o Leads to consensus and commitment
          o Provides long-term resolution
      Confronting/problem solving
          o Treats conflict as a problem to be solved by examining alternatives
          o Requires give-and-take attitude and open dialogue
          o Provides ultimate resolution

When to use various conflict management styles:
   Use force
          o When you‟re sure you‟re right
          o When an emergency situation exists (“do or die”)
          o When stakes are high and issues are important
          o When you are stronger (never start a battle you can‟t win)
          o To gain status or demonstrate position power
          o When the acceptance is unimportant
   Use avoidance/withdrawal:
          o When you can‟t win or the stakes are low
          o When the stakes are high, but you aren‟t ready yet
          o To gain status or demonstrate position power
          o To gain time
          o To discourage your opponent
          o To maintain neutrality or reputation
          o When you think the problem will go away by itself
   Use collaboration/confrontation:
          o When you both get at least what you want and maybe more
          o To reduce overall project costs
          o To gain commitment and create a common power base
          o When there is enough time, and skills are complementary
          o When you want to preclude later use of other methods
          o To maintain future relationships
          o When there is mutual trust, respect and confidence

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      Use accommodation/smoothing:
          o To reach an overarching goal
          o To create obligation for a trade-off at a later date
          o When stakes are low and liability is limited
          o To maintain harmony, peace and goodwill
          o When any solution will be adequate
          o When you‟ll lose anyway
          o To gain time
      Use compromise:
          o For temporary solutions to complex issues
          o For backup if collaboration fails
          o When both parties need to be winners
          o When you can‟t win or don‟t have enough time
          o When others are as strong as you are
          o To maintain your relationship with your opponent
          o When you‟re not sure you are right
          o When you get nothing if you don‟t
          o When goals are moderately high

Preparing for conflict:
    Expect conflict
    Plan ahead to handle conflict
           o Develop framework to view conflicts objectively
                    Am I in or out? Belong to team or not.
                    Where do I stand? How much authority, influence control.
                    Am I near or far? How close to get to team.
           o Analyze key players involved
           o Prepare communication strategy
           o Prepare for stress management

To face conflict effectively:
    Serve as lightning rod
           o Put yourself on hold, rather than fighting back
           o Screen out distractions to focus energy directly on conflict and people
           o Give situation more time by allowing a cool-down period and time to
           o Respond to both emotional and factual contents of situation
    “Surface” the real issues

Tactics for minimizing conflicts:
    With senior management/boss:
            o Place yourself in boss‟s shoes
            o Analyze boss‟s thinking pattern
            o Don‟t take only problems to boss, take solutions too
            o Keep boss informed on your progress and plans

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          o Listen to and observe your boss
          o Consult boss on policy, procedures and criteria
          o Don‟t steamroll boss
      With other project/functional managers/peers:
          o Help peers meet their goals
          o Establish cooperative climate
          o Give advance notice of any help you need from peers
          o Cultivate informal communication channel
          o Treat them the way you want to be treated
      With team members/subordinates:
          o Discover professional and personal goals of team members
          o Clarify your expectations
          o Define control parameters
          o Develop tolerance for failure to encourage creativity
          o Give positive feedback
          o Give timely praise and recognition
      With clients/users:
          o Be supportive toward client representative
          o Maintain close contact with client
          o Avoid giving surprises
          o Keep in touch at all levels
          o Establish informal relationships too
          o Conduct regular project status meeting

Guidelines for successful negotiations:
    Commit to negotiate for mutual gain
           o Commitment leads to results
    Don’t bargain over positions
           o Produces unwise agreements
           o Is inefficient
           o Endangers ongoing relationships
           o Ineffective when many parties are involved and form coalition
           o Makes you vulnerable with hard negotiators
    Separate the people from the problem
           o People have emotions, beliefs and perceptions that must be dealt with
           o Negotiators are interested both in substance and relationship
    Separate the relationship from the substance; deal directly with people problem
           o Negotiations are highly influence by people problems, which include
               perceptions, emotions and communications
           o People problems (if not prevented or resolved at an early stage) lead to
    Focus on interests, not positions
           o Interest define the problem; clarify and communicate interests effectively
           o Reconciling interests leads to wise solution
           o There are many shared and compatible interests behind opposed positions

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      Generate options for mutual gain
          o Separates inventing from deciding
          o Options are broadened to achieve mutual gains and making decisions easy
              to live with
      Use objective criteria or standard
          o Neither party can complain against objective criteria
          o Objective criteria produces wise agreements

Common sources of job stress:
   Role ambiguity
        o Job insecurity
        o Lack of communication
        o Changes in jobs
   Role conflict
        o Mismatch between goals and activities
        o Individual‟s priorities differ from leader‟s
   Project management style
        o Little decision-making power
        o Responsibility without authority
        o Fear of what might happen
        o Following orders
   Role overload
        o Many unfinished activities
        o Too many obligations and duties
        o Work overload
        o Too many demands and deadlines
   Interpersonal relationships
        o Problems with co-workers, clients
        o Lack of motivation/challenge
        o Poor team environment
        o Lack control of situation
        o Talents not fully used
   Lack of positive reinforcement
        o Accomplishments ignored or rejected
        o Lack of praise for good performance
   Career development concerns
        o Career ambitions have fallen through
        o Too fast or too slow pace

Using „perks‟ to reduce job stress for team members:
    P: Participation—allow team members to participate and use their own creativity
    E: Environment—Create an environment where team members feel motivated
       and are treated with dignity and respect
    R: Recognition—Recognize team members for their accomplishments
    K: Knowledge—Help people gain the training and information need for
       professional development

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      S: Style—Be consistent, fair and predictable. Encourage open communication
       and emphasize building trust among team members.

Project leadership in a nutshell:
    L: Listen to your project team and client (build trust among stakeholders)
    E: Encourage the heart of team members (motivation)
    A: Act as a real team (inspire team for high performance)
    D: Deliver the deliverables (with emphasis on quality)

Important project management skills (in order):
   1. Communication skills
        Listening
        Persuading
   2. Organization skills
        Planning
        Goal-setting
        Analyzing
   3. Team building skills
        Empathy
        Motivation
   4. Leadership skills
        Sets example
        Energetic
        Vision/big picture
        Delegates
        Positive
   5. Coping skills
        Flexibility
        Creativity
        Patience
        Persistence
   6. Technical skills
        Experience
        Project knowledge

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