Projects managers must apply appropriate interpersonal skills to be effective. The interpersonal skills identified are of particular importance in the project environment.
When to use
Interpersonal skills are just that – skills used for interacting with other persons on the project. Some are needed for working with project team members, others with senior management or external stakeholders, and some are appropriate in every situation. Assess the situation and use the appropriate skills. On many projects, the project manager does not have direct managerial authority over most of the team members, so the need for interpersonal skills is heightened.
The PMBOK® Guide has defined eleven interpersonal skills that it believes are important for all project managers. These skills are used in various combinations depending upon the project circumstances. The project manager should be adept at all of them.
Aligning, guiding and directing others to acheive the goals of the project. Building trust, confidence, and a cooperative spirit among the team and stakeholders. Not relying on fear and intimidation to accomplish the project work.
An ongoing process of helping a group of individuals who, by working together, achieve a common goal or objective. This skill is often augmented by other interpersonal skills, depending upon the issues that arise within the team.
Creating an environment where individuals can find personal and professional satisfaction while achieving the project goals.
While communication is a project management knowledge area and as such entails a number of activities, as an interpersonal skill it deals with listening skills and the ability to express oneself clearly. It also includes being aware of, and accommodating, different styles of communication depending upon the situation and background of the individual.
Using a combination of all the interpersonal skills to obtain cooperation from others so as to achieve the project goal. It often requires a sharing of power or leading by example.
Use a decision-making process that is viewed as fair and appropriate for the circumstances, not an arbitrary or biased process. The four commonly defined decision making styles are: command, consultation, consensus, and coin flip (random).
Political and Cultural Awareness
Yes, there are politics in projects. Be aware of the politics and use political power appropriately. This includes being aware of cultural norms and differences among team members and accommodating those wherever possible while still achieving the goals of the project. This will often require a high level of communication.
There are almost always differences of opinion between project team members concerning aspects of the project. Reach an acceptable compromise among different options or individuals. This requires understanding the needs of all parties and striving to reach the “win-win” solution.
Creating trust among team members and stakeholders is a vital element in an individual’s success. Building trust usually requires regular communication. Trust is also built upon the integrity of the individual. Once integrity is questioned, trust is compromised.
All projects will have conflict at some time during their life cycle. Unresolved conflict can undermine team performance, shut down communication, and lead to poor decision making. Managing conflict can lead to dynamic solutions that exceed expectations. You will probably need to use multiple interpersonal skills to resolve conflict. Conflict is often unpleasant and is one of the most difficult interpersonal challenges to address.
Coaching is developing team members so as to improve their performance. Coaching good performers will enhance their skills. Coaching poor performers should improve their skills to an acceptable level.
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