From time to time, every Project Manager will find themselves managing difficult conversations. Because it is an important part of our role. But it’s one we’d rather not have. Then, of course, at the end of a hard day or week at work, you leave work. And again, you will have to face these types of conversation at home, with friends and in social situations.
We all know a difficult conversation as soon as it gets started – in fact, we mostly spot it in advance. This triggers adversarial or defensive reactions that just make things worse.
There are ways to plan and manage a difficult conversation to vastly increase the chances that it will go well. You want the other person will listen and participate constructively. You also want a good outcome. So, in this guide, I’ll offer you some practical techniques to give you confidence when you are managing difficult conversations.
A large part of your job as a Project Manager is communication; arguably the largest part. So, only focusing on technical skills will not serve you. It’s essential that you develop excellent communication skills. Luckily, there are many great books to help you.
Increasingly, this is the area my training business is focussed on. My clients are learning the value of giving their project managers – and general managers – great communications skills. And my experience as a project manager taught me two things:
So, in this article, I have set out to share some of the brilliant books that have helped me learn along the way. In reviewing them, I have selected the ones that are most likely to help you, today.
As a project manager, you are not just responsible for your project. You are also responsible for the people on your project. And there is nothing that develops people more reliably than good quality performance feedback.
Often, we get our own performance feedback by simply observing what we do and the results it has. But it’s too easy to miss the details. That’s why we need others to give us their feedback. So, you need to develop the skills for giving good performance feedback to your project team members.
In this article, we’ll summarize the skills, techniques, and tips you’ll need.
As a Project manager, you need to be prepared to learn from many different places. And, from the world of marketing, you can learn a lot about how to plan your stakeholder engagement campaign.
You are a project manager. You care about getting things right. So you plan meticulously, identify threats and take steps to mitigate them. The only thing that can get in your way now is one thing: people.
What all experienced project managers know is this:
It is your stakeholders who will ultimately determine whether your project is deemed a success… or not.
So you need to be equally rigorous in planning your stakeholder engagement campaign. You will need to learn from them, build their trust, and ultimately influence their attitudes.
So what are the components of a stakeholder engagement campaign, and how can you determine the best strategy for each?
There is a vast literature of personal effectiveness books. With so many to choose from, where should you start?
Don’t worry. Here at OnlinePMCourses, we have a big library and have read many personal effectiveness books. We’ll talk you through our top recommendations for each of the personal effectiveness skills.
When you are a Project Manager, people look to you. They look for leadership, inspiration, and guidance. They also expect you to be a highly effective professional; capable in all circumstances. But many of these skills aren’t taught as a part of your project management learning:
These skills come with practice. But where do you learn what techniques to try out and practice? That’s where our list of personal effectiveness books comes in. They offer some of the best advice, most clearly given, of all the books (around 1,000) on our shelves.
Two of the things that put off many project managers are Politics and Stakeholders. Yet they are intertwined and a necessary part of project management. You cannot escape either so you may as well embrace them.
In this podcast, Andy Kaufman of the People and Projects Podcast, interviewed me about Politics and Stakeholders – an interest we share.
This interview ranged wider than politics and stakeholders, but for me, that is at its heart. Andy’s case study questions tapped into real ad tricky situations.
Have you got a great project team? If you have, then one thing acts like top-grade oil in a highly-tuned engine: great team communication.
Conversations are friction free, problems get described, addressed and solved. And work gets shared and handed-off efficiently.
It’s like the oil in your engine is burnt and gritty. Everything seems harder and nothing flows smoothly.
So, in this article we look at how to create great team communication, and share ’10 Commandments’.
One of the things Project Managers fear most is resistance. When we encounter difficult stakeholders, it triggers deep emotions. It’s easy to feel out of your depth professionally, and challenged, personally.
This is a common problem for all project managers. And it can be unsettling for newer PMs. So we asked an expert in this topic to write an article for you.
Elise Stevens runs the fabulous FixMyProjectChaos.com website, with over 100 podcasts for you to listen to. We like podcasts. And she is a seasoned practitioner who now coaches, mentors and trains project managers. Hear Elise’s interview with OnlinePMCourses founder, Mike Clayton.
But most important, Elise has thought deeply about the challenges posed by difficult stakeholder. She even has an eCourse available. So why don’t we turn this article over to Elise, and let her tell her story…
A seasoned Project Manager, you quickly learn that there’s no escaping project politics.
It’s a fact of life.
‘When you play a game of projects you deliver or you fail.’
But you may find yourself tempted to say something like: ‘Hang on, I’m a project manager: not a politician.’
That would be nice, wouldn’t it? You could spend your days focusing on the basic management principles.
Well, pretty near the top is… Stakeholder Engagement. And what’s that all about? Politics.
So, you’ll always came back to the political dimension.
Because it’s always there in real life. No matter how much you may want to; you cannot escape project politics. So you do need to understand the basics.
As a Project Manager, you will be having a lot of conversations – with team members, stakeholders, and your bosses. Some will be hard and some easy. And you’ll need to understand the dynamics of those that don’t go as smoothly as you’d like. A powerful resource for this is Transactional Analysis, or TA. It’s sometimes known as the Parent-Adult-Child model.
Dr Mike Clayton is founder of OnlinePMCourses.com.
Here, he answers this question, in under 5 minutes.