The one thing all Leaders could learn from Project Managers
How effectively do you communicate potential challenges when they arise? We caught up with a few experienced project managers from UCT and GetSmarter for a few tricks and tactics to use when it comes to getting what you want from teams and senior management.
How to apply Project Management principles for better communication
Derek Smith, UCT Emeritus Professor and course designer for the UCT Advanced Project Management online short course, says, “when things are possibly going to create problems, it’s the project manager’s responsibility to give leaders a heads-up.” Too many projects fail owing to a breakdown in communication between leaders and their teams, and this is where professionals in leadership positions could afford to learn a thing or two from effective project managers.
How to speak up
According to Alla Boguslavsky, Project Manager at GetSmarter, there are a number of important considerations to keep in mind before you communicate any potential issues to both those you lead and also to senior-level management. The first is timing. If you run to your manager with a problem every day, they will stop taking you seriously. Inversely, you could lose credibility in the eyes of your team or be viewed as incapable. Remember, people react differently to crisis situations depending on the situation and their mood.
Another key element of speaking up is your approach. “There is a big difference between approaching somebody with a problem, and approaching somebody with possible solutions to a problem,” says Alla. Most people are far more responsive to proactive approaches.
Your confidence is also key, says Brent Combrink, experienced Project Manager and Course Instructor of both UCT Project Management short courses currently offered in partnership with GetSmarter. “When Project Managers speak with inherent, expert authority that is independent of their positional authority relative to their bosses, clients, and teams, they will already be miles down the path of countering the institutional causes of stressed projects failing too slowly”.
Remember, speaking up works both ways. Creating an environment where your team members are able to approach you, will lead to more accurate updates, allowing you to broach the subject with upper management honestly and in good time. You may not be able to prevent risk to projects, but you are responsible for managing and communicating risk when you see it. As Derek Smith says, “Bad news should be managed, not hidden.”
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