Monthly Archives: May 2012

Not only is everyone Watching – everyone is also Talking

I have blogged about this before, but I wanted to put a small twist on it. Within your office and your regional business community, as a leader, not only is everyone watching what you do and say, they are also telling their colleagues. Count on it.

Good, Bad, or Indifferent. Your reputation is out there. It may go viral on social media and it may come back to you locally due to your online brand, but never forget that what you do and what you say is seen and repeated every day in the office. The question can then be asked, should you care?

Of course you should care, but how to concern yourself with the goings on of others without it paralyzing your true nature and muting your true value? For me, it is a delicate balance between keeping a healthy respect for the title of this blog while acting and looking the part at all times. That’s where the over analysis ends.

I know everyone is watching and telling their friends. I can’t change that. What I can do is walk the walk every minute of every day. What you see is what you get and I care what you get. If you are honest in your presentation, fair in your statements and judgments people will respect that. Outliers be damned. So make sure you can look yourself square in the eye every morning and every night and know that you were honest and did your best.

Bring your “A” game every day. Period. People are going to say what they are going to say.

That’s not how they did it back at my old job…

How many have heard folks in teams make that statement, “…when I was in XYZ organization, we preferred to do this process 1, 3, 5 not 1, 2, 3…”? Now, how many of you resented that input from your team member and virtually immediately shut your mental door to the potential merits of their approach?

What I would like to discuss is why did you do that, and why did they do that?

First, why did they do that? Chances are the correct answer is the most simple one: they are searching for areas of familiarity and comfort in a new team. Your process, the new organization they are in, and this new team are just that; new – and therefore uncomfortable. Not necessarily wrong, or bad, just new and different. They would prefer a familiar process for sheer comfort. Human nature and not a bad thing within teams, you just have to recognize it and manage it when you see it.

Why did you do that? Same root cause. Chances are that your process is one that the rest of the team members are familiar with and so are conversely uncomfortable with the suggested revision. Simple as that. Change is uncomfortable and if presented incorrectly, it will be exiled immediately.

So at its core, you have a team member recommending a change and another team member objecting to the change on contact. This can put you as a PM in a unique position to re-frame the proposed change as a consideration from yourself rather than one that has perceptions of bias or superiority. Your team members all want to have the best project possible and it’s not like they haven’t had to deal with a change before. All you have to do to salvage this potentially great piece nugget of improvement is to repackage it as your team’s idea. Not “how it was done in XYZ”, but “what if we did 1, 3, 5.

It’s all in the presentation. Put yourself in a position to deliver and your team in a position to receive…then watch the success grow!

Conflict Resolution – When all you want to do is fight

Like darn near anything you are going to hear along the lines of project management, one of the keys to successful conflict resolution within a team is establishing a plan before the conflict occurs and gaining bipartisan support. When things are still rosy, agree that when you do (and you will) disagree, that there will be a time limit and a process for resolving the issue. There are several reasons for this:

You have to know when to say when on an issue – You aren’t going to change anyone’s mind after several attempts and you just need someone else to make the call. The project has to move forward and a festering conflict can stagnate and contaminate the entire team. Move the resolution on and get back to business.

Perhaps even you could use a fresh perspective – Luckily for you, like myself, you are never wrong. Perhaps the conflict could use a new set of eyes with, let’s say, a broader perspective. Focus on what matters and move on.

Allows you to isolate and contain the conflict – When it gets bad, it will be everywhere. In everyone’s minds, in their whispers, in their body language, and in their emails. The negative spiral has begun and you can forget about partnership. Avoid this death spiral by cutting the toxicity out before it infects your team. Isolate and escalate the issue per your resolution plan and keep the business at hand, at hand.

When you agree to escalate the conflict from the project level, you are attempting to preserve the harmony within the team as described above, however you may likely also be losing some of the facts and context surrounding the issue in the translation. Remember that no one is better suited to deal with the conflict resolution than those closest to the actual issue. They know what happened and what the facts are better than anyone. If they are unable to see through their emotions or find a common ground, you should strive to resolve the issue at your level; or someone else at the next level will – you just might not love the answer.