PROJECT MANAGER  INTERPERSONAL SKILLS

Human Resources is not an exact science. How could it be, we are dealing with people! Even from one organization to another, theories and definitions may differ. What follows is a list of Interpersonal Skills and more information about each of them. You will see these Interpersonal Skills are somewhat interconnected. I trust you will find this helpful.
Interpersonal Skills:
  • Leadership. Much has been written about effective leadership. Check out Dr. Stephen Covey's books. In most cases a group of people are focused on a common goal and work together for success. Leaders establish, maintain and inspire a shared vision, and enable others to act.
  • Team Building. This is the process of developing a team environment and then helping the Team Members to work with each other. Key ideas include handling team problems, not casting blame, encouragement, rewards, team identity, and open communications.
  • Motivation. Find out what team members value most and use that to achieve high performance. More powerful and longer lasting than extrinsic values, intrinsic values include: job satisfaction, challenging work, sense of accomplishment (and achievement and growth), peer recognition.
  • Communication. One of the single biggest reasons for project success or failure. Openness, leads the way to trust, which in turn leads the way to more effective communications. Message clarity can be attenuated by factors including: communication style, cultural norms, relationships, personalities, and the context of the situation. Non-verbal influences of body language, voice pitch, and voice tone will impact the verbal message you are trying to convey. Careful listening, active and passive, is critical to understanding. The Communications knowledge area is covered in the next project step. More help with Communications Skills is found here. Tips for more effective communication, also beneficial for relationship building, are found here. REMEMBER:  "Communication is the lubrication that makes projects run smoothly"
  • Influencing. Getting others to do what you want. The ability to bring others to your way of thinking. Different from 'motivation' which gets people going, 'influencing' gets them going in a particular direction. Dale Carnegie's #1 best seller "How to Win Friends and Influence People" is a must-read! In addition,every Project Manager would do well to study sales techniques, as taught to sales professionals.
  • Decision Making. The ability to select a choice from a set of alternatives. Some people find this difficult to do for fear of making the wrong choice. Having a decision making process like "8D Problem Solving" helped us at Ford to make good decisions, and with confidence.
  • Political and Cultural Awareness. How the organization really works, in practice. All leaders must behave politically, by exhibiting sensitivity to different viewpoints and agendas. Being aware of cultural differences allows the Professional Project Manager to create an atmosphere of trust, and to work effectively with various Team members and other Stakeholders.
  • Negotiation. Coming to agreement which each party sees as somewhat beneficial, over issues of conflict or opposed interests. Some common negotiation tactics & strategies (T&S) are found but pressing the button, below. Several books and seminars are available for training in this skill, and a very popular book is "Getting to Yes", by Roger Fisher, and William L. Ury.
  • Trust and Respect of the project management team. Key elements in successful leadership are respect and trust rather than fear and submission. In "The Speed of Trust", Stephen Covey asserts, "The ability to establish, extend, and restore trust with all stakeholders – customers, business partners, investors and coworkers – is the key leadership competency of the new, global economy."
  • Conflict Management. Conflict, inevitable in a project environment, can actually lead to better solutions if managed well. Five tips to remember are: stay calm, manage your own response, set limits, handle challenging questions, prevent a physical confrontation. On this PDF you will find an interesting guidebook, which includes finding your Conflict Reaction Profile. Click this link for techniques to resolve conflicts.Managing conflict well draws upon all of the other interpersonal skills, to lead the parties to a successful resolution.
  • Coaching. Coaching is a process that enables learning and development to occur, and thus performance to improve. It is about helping people fulfill their potential. Coaching includes the provision of training, advice, and guidance. To be successful, a Coach requires a knowledge and understanding of process; as well as the variety of styles, skills and techniques that are appropriate to the context in which the coaching takes place.
  • Active Listening.This is where you make a conscious effort to hear not only the words that another person is saying but, more importantly, try to understand the complete message being sent. Tips to active listening are found here.
  • Facilitating Consensus. Using consensus involves deliberation, then obtaining group agreement on a decision. The good of the project is placed ahead of any individual's preferences, as the group strives toward an agreement. Click this link to discover 3 Simple Process Tools for a constructive discussion.
  • Flexibility in Management Style. Likely the best book on this subject is "Situational leadership" by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard. They explain there is no best leadership style, but effective leadership depends on using the most appropriate style to suit both the following group (the Team) and the situation at hand.
 

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