Fundamentals Of Project Management

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Unformatted text preview: ished, people’s roles must be clearly defined. What is expected of each individual, and by when? One common problem is that team leaders think they communicate information on goals and roles clearly to team members, yet team members remain fuzzy on these critical areas. The problem is that we fail to solicit feedback from team members to be really sure that they understand their roles and responsibilities and that team members themselves are sometimes reluctant to admit that they don’t understand. This reluctance appears to be a result of our tendency in school to put people down for asking “stupid” questions. So, as adults, rather than admit that they don’t understand, people interpret what they have been told and try to do the job the best they can. Project leaders must establish a climate of open communication with the team, a climate in which no one feels too intimidated to speak up. The best way to do this is to comment on the problem: “I know some of you may feel reluctant to speak up and say you don’t understand, but we can’t operate that way. Please feel free to be candid. If you don’t understand, say so. If you don’t agree with something, say so. That is the only way we can succeed. We will be lucky to have time to do the job once, much less find time to do it over because one of you failed to understand what was expected.” I have also found that people respond very positively when I am willing to admit that I don’t understand something myself or am apprehensive or concerned about a project issue. If you project an air of infallibility, no one else is likely to admit a weakness. But then, who wants to deal with a demigod? A little human frailty goes a long way toward breaking down barriers. I know this contradicts what some managers have been taught. The macho notion of infallibility has been with us for a long time, and I believe it is the cause of many of our organizational problems. It is time to abandon it for reality. Working Out Procedures Dealing with how to do the project work is the third issue with which teams must grapple. The work must be done as efficiently and effectively as possible. Trying constantly to improve work processes is a very important issue today. Commonly called reengineering, this effort requires the analysis and improvement of work processes to make the organization more competitive. The difficulty that most teams have with process is that they get so focused on doing the work that they forget to examine how it is done. Periodically a team should stop working long enough to examine its processes and see if there are better approaches that could be used. Otherwise, it may get very good at doing the work badly. Managing Interpersonal Relationships Friction exists in almost any interaction between human beings. There may be misunderstandings, conflicts, personality clashes, or petty jealousies. Project managers must be prepared to deal with all of these. In fact, if you disli...
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