Today, we continue our conversation with Margaret Meloni, Margaret is a project management guru and the founder of Meloni Coaching Solutions, Inc. In her more than 18 years in corporate America which included roles in Fortune 500 management, Margaret observed how individuals who learned to cope with conflict succeeded and recognized their full potential, while others became road blocked.
Mohammed: How can project manager become a professional communicator. What is the secret ingredients that you have to make 90% of Project Manager’s time work for them especially communicating with difficult people?
Margaret: The secret ingredient is be a fabulous listener and a strategic communicator. Or in the case of written communications, be a very good reader. Whenyoureallypayattentiontowhatpeoplearetellingyouandtake actionwhenrequired, peoplewillcontinuetocommunicatewithyou. When a team member approaches you with information, take time to understand the message. Why are they telling you this information? What do they want you to do? What do you really need to do? Who else needs to know? While this person is communicating with you use active listening to remain engaged and to ensure that you are correctly receiving the message. Active listening includes:
While they are talking do not try to form your response. Paraphrase or mirror back to them what you think they are saying, keep working at it until you have an understanding.
.Be strategic in the communications that you share with others. When you send an email or publish a document or memo, make sure there is a valid reason. Try to consolidate and plan your communications so that your team and your stakeholders do not receive multiple emails from you, when one would have sufficed. Everyone has too much to read, try and make it easy for them.
.If people find that you do not listen or that you do not act upon communications in a timely manner, they might give up on you. If they give up on you your 90% communications time will be time spent desperately trying to keep in the loop, instead of time spent proactively engaging in productive communications. If people find that you hit them with too many meaningless communications, they will stop listening to you and stop reading emails from you; that isn’t the communication brand you want, is it?
Mohammed: In this tight economy, project managers could be hired to another positions or make career transition. Do you think PM can keep the project management expertise even if they didn’t work directly in project management for years? and how?
Margaret: You are so right! I am hearing from project managers who receiving other job opportunities. The irony? Even though they have not hired into a project manager position, it was their project management expertise that helped them secure the job. It seems that companies are appreciating the extra skill set and perhaps hiring these people with the idea that they can also take advantage of their project management skills. This means be a good team member and visibly continue to draw upon your project management skills. As you receive assignments, make sure you understand the scope of your assignment just like you would want to understand the scope of your project. Create accurate and well documented estimates. Schedule your time well and exhibit excellent time management skills. Of course make sure your status reporting is flawless. If for some reason you don’t think your current assignment is allowing you to keep your project management expertise current, then volunteer your time as a project manager and keep your education current.
Mohammed: What are the steps you recommend to people in order to define themselves at work or to create their inner brand?
Define the words that describe you as a professional. Remember, if you do not start with a clear definition, how can others see who you are and what you are made of?
Take your words (I call them brand words) and put them together into a few sentences.
Review your brand words. Define actions that support these words. These are the actions or behaviors that you should be regularly exhibiting.
Keep track of your actions. You know how you want to be perceived and you have defined actions that support that perception, are you acting appropriately?
Ask others to describe you. Your reputation is in their hands. What are they saying?
Objectively review the perceptions others have shared with you. Decide what information you will accept and what you will reject.
Consider making some changes.
Become aware of what triggers you to behave in a way that is not compatible with your brand.
Recognize that managing your brand is part of your career development, grow your brand AND your technical skills.
Brand Word:“Knowledge is learning something new every day. Wisdom is letting go of something every day.” – Zen Proverb. Your brand is YOU. The real INNER YOU comes first, be comfortable with who you are and then work on the exterior. Everydaythatyoulearnsomethingaboutyourselfisadaywhereyoucanstrengthenyourbrand and every day that you let something go is a day where you feel more secure and authentic with your brand. People can sense this in you.
Brand Spotlight: Sometimes the conflict that people find the most challenging is the conflict around who they want to be or how they wish to be perceived. Many people run headlong into their lives and into their careers without every thinking about this. I am not suggesting that you should obsess over other people’s opinions; but you should know who you are and what you stand for. When you don’t, people will make up their own definition of you. Is that what you want? Of course not! That is why I ask you to stop and think about it? Does your character show up with you at work each day? It should. Remember you own your character, other people make up your reputation.“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” – Joseph Campbell
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