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Project Practitioners > Communication Skills

Posts Under "Communication Skills"

Conversation Starters for PMs and Sponsors - Part 1: Initiation
By Sinikka Waugh
No single communication relationship in a project is more critical than that between the PM and the Sponsor, but not every PM and Sponsor know how to connect. Every project is, by very definition, unique. But there are predictable moments, and critical conversations that need to take place throughout the project. Assembled below are some conversation starters - prompts, if you will - to help PMs and Sponsors have more effective exchanges at core moments in the project. Read them, make them your own. If you are a PM - use them to engage your Sponsor. If you are a Sponsor - use them to engage with your PM. Read More»

Who Put the #$!&@ in Teams?
By Michael Aucoin
To adapt a line from the movie Animal House, "Teams–can't live with them, can't live without them!" That may be the conclusion of a 2013 survey commissioned by the University of Phoenix that revealed some troubling findings about the nature of teams in the workplace. 95 percent of those surveyed recognize that teams serve an important function, but only 24 percent prefer to work in teams. 68 percent who have ever worked in teams have had at least one experience with a dysfunctional team. 40 percent of those who have worked on teams have witnessed a verbal confrontation between team... Read More»

Organizational Structures, Modes of Power, and The Prisoners’ Dilemma
By Alan Zucker
Say you are assigned to a new project. What process do you follow to determine your approach to engaging the team? Do you analyze the project’s organizational structure? How do you decide which role and power type to use? The project’s organizational structure influences the formal power and role of the project manager. The way the PM chooses to exert power affects the type and quality of the team relationships. The Prisoners’ Dilemma provides insight into the impact of collaborative versus competitive behavior. Organizational structures, modes of power, and The Prisoners’ Dilemma can provide the PM with insight into leading... Read More»

Tactical Communication
By Margaret de Haan
How many times, when managing a project and something unexpected happens (or doesn’t), do you get reactive reasons/excuses a while after the fact? Don’t get me wrong, you need to understand the why to be able to avoid the same thing happening in the future at the micro level, but how could it have been avoided altogether? The longer that I manage Projects, the more that I think that it comes down to 2 things – communication and managing expectations. I believe that if you can do that well, many of the “oops” won’t happen. Yes, yes, I know, there... Read More»

Creating New Team Connections
By Jeff Richardson
Resist the urge to “get right to work” when bringing new team members together to launch a new project. As the project manager, you’ve already gotten a head start by working for days, weeks or even months to build the business case and initiate the team’s kickoff. I’m constantly amazed at how haphazard the process for assigning project team member is at successful tech companies. So often engineers or support staff showing up at a kickoff session with no information about what’s going on or why they are here. Individuals coming together during this “forming” stage of team development1 may... Read More»

Continue reading "Creating New Team Connections" »

Shift Their Mind Paradigm
By Margaret de Haan
I’ve decided that I have become too much of a creature of habit, and so I have decided to start ignoring most of what I know works. I know, it sounds bizarre, doesn’t it? I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking and observing lately, and I’ve come across some interesting perspectives that my brain has spun together. The result looks like something that could have significant value in changing the current process paradigm. Ultimately, if we keep performing things in the same way, based on the scientific method of investigation and learning, how do we deviate away from basic... Read More»

Does Dysfunction Serve a Purpose?
By Michael Aucoin
When scanning articles or books, I like to include provocative or contrarian topics in my search - they often provide interesting or new points of view. With my interest in helping dysfunctional teams, my eye was immediately drawn to an academic paper, "The Functions of Dysfunction: Implications for Organizational Diagnosis and Change," by William A. Kahn, who is on the faculty at Boston University. My curiosity was piqued: what purpose could dysfunction possibly serve? We would all agree that dysfunction in a project team is counterproductive to the reason a team exists. With this premise, we tend to approach dysfunction... Read More»

You Call That a Good Meeting?
By DeAnna Burghart
"Great meeting," was absolutely the last feedback I'd expected to receive. It had been one of those days, and as a result I'd walked into a big planning session totally unprepared and five minutes late. I presented my apologies and launched into what felt like a fast and loose high-level meeting, got consensus around a few items, and got the group to agree to a second session next month. Total time spent: about 40 minutes for what was supposed to be a highly detailed one-hour one-off meeting. Read More»

Think Differently About Project "Crunch Time"
By Margaret de Haan
So we have all been the lead on a Project that hit “crunch time” where everyone has borrowed a sleeping bag and planned on camping at the office 24/7 for a few days to make sure that the date is met, right? Well I have been speaking to a number of individuals from different organizations at some of my networking events that I have attended recently, and one of the COO’s that I met came out with a revelation that I feel I just have to share even though it should be considered obvious. In a discussion about the “Go... Read More»

How Should We Measure Success?
By Margaret de Haan
Obviously if you ask any of us the above question, the rote answer is “A Project that is delivered within scope, on time and within budget”. But really, it isn’t that easy, is it? That definition, as with everything, depends on the perspective of what your team and your Project Sponsor defines as "within scope” and “on time”. I have struggled with this since starting out as a Project Manager, and I have found that that possibility of misalignment in the perception of those particular Project components is most likely rooted in the corporate culture, and the level of maturity... Read More»

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