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Monday, January 29, 2007

Emotional Bank Accounts and Projects

Dr Stephen Covey talks about "The Emotional Bank Account" in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The emotional bank account is simply a metaphor for defining the amount of trust that has been built up in a relationship. Project managers need to be trusted in order to be effective.

An emotional bank account works just like a regular bank account. There are deposits and withdrawals. Deposits are made through acts of kindness, keeping your word, meeting commitments, being truthful, trustworthy, etc. When the emotional bank account has a positive balance, communication is much easier because trust is high. If on the other hand you show negative behaviors like disrespect, threatening words, being judgmental, harsh, or distant and detached the trust level (account balance) becomes overdrawn. This overdrawn account severely limits your options to communicate effectively.

If a positive balance isn't maintained in your emotional bank accounts your relationships will deteriorate. Remember, you have many different emotional bank accounts. One for everyone you deal with. Do you know which accounts are overdrawn?

Some quick concepts from Dr. Covey's book when talking about major deposits to the emotional bank account are:

Understand the Individual

Really seek to understand. What is important to them? Make that thing important to you.

Attend to the Little Things

Perform small acts of courtesy and kindness.

Keeping Commitments

Keeping them is a major deposit. Breaking them is a major withdrawal. People put hope in promises.

Clarifying Expectations

Ensure understanding takes place when dealing with expectations. This takes time and good listening skills to accomplish.

Show Personal Integrity

This generates trust. Trust is the basis of good relations. Having integrity doesn't just mean telling the truth, it means keeping our promises and meeting expectations. It also means "respect for the absent". Defend the absent and gain the respect of those present.

Apologize Sincerely When You Make a Withdrawal

Apologize from the heart. Be sincere and let the other person know how bad you feel.

Monday, January 22, 2007

What are you saying?

As project managers, it is important that we communicate in a way that inspires and motivates others. What you say, and more importantly how you say it through your body language can help or hurt you in ways you may not fully understand.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Project managers will fail if they can not communicate effectively.

Some questions to consider are:

How are our words and especially our body language interpreted by others?

How will we know if our message is accepted?

What are the things we need to be aware of in regards to our body language when communicating with others?

It is said that there are eight subconscious impressions that people make about you within the first ten seconds of meeting you. They are:

How smart you are

Your education level

Your trustworthiness

Your personality style

Your self-confidence

Your work ethic

How dependability

Your level of income

How can somebody do that? Isn't this unfair? You do it, but may not realize it. Just think about someone you have met recently and see if you have formulated opinions around the eight statements listed above.

To help you avoid some negative sterotypes when meeting others, here are some tips:

Stand up straight and hold your head up high – You will look and feel confident

Walk confidently and with a purpose

Keep your hands where people can see them (not in your pockets)

Shake hands confidently, but with sincerity

Have enthusiasm

Smile strategically – Try smiling slowly as you shake their hand

Most importantly, maintain eye contact for 3-5 seconds

When meeting people show a genuine interest in them, and remember over half your communication is sent via your body language. Also, project managers need to instill confidence and inspire others in order to be effective.

What does your body language say about you?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Project Management and the Circle of Concern

Project managers make mistakes. If you are a project manager and don't make mistakes then you are either lying to yourself or you are totally ineffective. Dr. Covey talks about two things we need to consider regarding what he calls our "Circle of Concern". As project managers it is critical that we embrace and understand these concepts which are, consequences and mistakes.

As Dr. Covey states, "While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequence of those actions. Consequences are governed by natural law. They are out in the Circle of Concern. We can decide to step in front of a fast-moving train (project selection), be we cannot decide what will happen when the train hits us".

To take this further, Dr. Covey says, "We can decide to be dishonest in our business dealings. While the social consequences of that decision may vary depending on whether or not we are found out, the natural consequences to our basic character are a fixed result."

"Our behavior is governed by principles. Living in harmony with them brings positive consequences: violating them brings negative consequences. We are free to choose our response in any situation, but in doing so we choose the attendant consequence. When we pick up one in of the stick, we pick up the other".

What does this mean? As project managers we have the capability to motivate and empower members of our team by being honest and ethical. We also can send our projects quickly off-track if we are dishonest in our dealings.

To quote Dr. Covey again, "Our response to mistakes affects the quality of our next moment. It is important to immediately admit and correct our mistakes so that they have no power over that next moment and we are empowered again. It is not what others do or even our mistakes that hurt us the most; it is our response to those things".

We all make mistakes. We must atone for and make amends for those mistakes quickly. In my opinion, our unwillingness to admit our mistakes is the biggest obstacle to personal growth and strong relationships. The Circle of Influence is all about our capability to make and keep our promises. Keeping our promises and commitments is a core value of integrity.

As Dr. Convey says, "By making and keeping promises to ourselves and others, little by little, our honor becomes greater then our moods.

Have high integrity and make and keep promises, and your projects (and your life) will be the better for it.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Circle of Influence and the Project Manager

(Exerpts from Habit 1: Be Proactive, in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey)

I'm a big fan of Dr. Stephen Covey. His book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a must read for anyone seeking to be highly effective. One of the concepts Dr. Covey talks about in his books is the "Circle of Concern" and the "Circle of Influence". The basic concept is that we need to focus our time and energy on the important things that we can control. Inside the Circle of Concern there is a smaller circle in the middle called the Circle of Influence. We should spend most of our time and efforts focused on the things in this Circle of Influence.

As Dr. Covey states "proactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about. The nature of their energy is positive, enlarging and magnifying, causing their Circle of Influence to increase." "Reactive people on the other hand, focus their efforts in the "Circle of Concern. They focus on the weakness of other people, the problems in the environment, and circumstances over which they have no control. Their focus results in blaming and accusing attitudes, reactive language, and increased feelings of victimization. The negative energy generated by that focus, combined with neglect in areas they could do something about, causes their Circle of Influence to shrink."

Key point – Focus on important things that you can control. Work to enlarge your Circle of Influence and you will automatically reduce the Circle of Concerns area.

Dr. Covey goes on to say:
One way to notice where our energy and focus is located is to distinguish between the have's and the be's. The Circle of Concern is filled with the have's:
· 'I'll be happy when I have my house paid off.'
· 'If only I had a more patient spouse...'
· 'If only I had better employees/co-workers...'
· 'If only I had a boss who wasn't so demanding...'

The Circle of Influence is filled with the be's:
· 'I can be more patient...'
· 'I can be a better employee...'
· 'I can be more wise...'

It's a character focus. Any time we think the problem is 'out there,' that thought is the problem. We empower what's out there to control us. The change paradigm is 'outside-in'--what's out there has to change before we can change.
The proactive approach is to change from the inside-out; to be different, and by being different to effect positive change in what's out there--I can be more resourceful, I can be more diligent, I can be a better listener, I can be a better leader.

Buy Dr. Stephen Covey's book or check it out from your local library. It is one of the best books you will ever read.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Project Roles and Responsibilities

Happy New Year!

Hopefully, you can use this list to educate your team members about the various roles on a project team.

Executive Steering Committee
Sets the strategic vision and objectives for a given program or project. The team leads efforts to build consensus through the organization to support the project or program’s objectives.

Governance Board
Formal team of executives from across the organization that ensure projects will meet/are meeting enterprise goals.

Project Sponsor
Provides clarity of the project vision, and directs the activities of the project team. Allocates funding and resources to the project. Provides executive authority necessary to overcome organizational obstacles and barriers. The guardian of the business case, and ultimately responsible for project success.

Performing Organization
The organization whose personnel are most directly involved in doing the work of the project. This organization usually provides sponsorship for the project.

Project Management Office
An organizational body or entity assigned various responsibilities related to the centralized and coordinated management of those programs/projects under its domain.

Project Stakeholders
Persons or organizations (customers, sponsors, performers, public) that are actively involved in the project or whose interests may be positively or negatively impacted by executing or implementation of the project.

Program Manager
Person responsible for the centralized, coordinated management of a program (group of related projects) to achieve the program’s strategic objectives and benefits.

Project Manager
The person assigned by the performing organization to achieve the project objectives. The project manager is responsible for coordinating and integrating activities across multiple functional lines, and managing stakeholder communications. The project manager accomplishes the above by managing project scope, time, cost, and quality. Finally, the project manager applies project management, general management and technical skills, as well as team management, negotiation, financial and business acumen, combined with an understanding of organizational politics to meet project objectives and to meet or exceed stakeholder expectations.

Project Team
All the project team members, including the project management team, the project manager, and for some projects, the project sponsor.

Functional Manager
On projects, the person responsible for ensuring agreed-upon project tasks are completed using pre-defined resources under the manager’s control within scope, time, budget and quality constraints.

Project Team Leader
Responsible for ensuring that agreed-upon project tasks and assignments are completed on time, on budget, and within quality standards for personnel under their realm of control or influence. The team leader should be knowledgeable of the principles and practices of project management and understand the business unit’s strategic and operational issues.

Technical Manager/Liaison
Responsible for the technical implementation of the project as measured against the project requirements, quality targets, and budgetary constraints, and timelines. Ensures technical deliverables are consistent with the overall technical strategy of the enterprise.

Business Analyst
Primary interface between projects and business partners. Responsible for understanding current and future processes, including processes for the entire enterprise. Documents business requirements, generate business cases, assists in defining project benefits/ costs, and participates in project reviews