Getting The Best From People And Projects
As a project lead for a software development company my primary role is to facilitate the implementation of our software products with new customers in a healthcare niche market. Implementation projects are complex and often filled with unspoken expectations, assumptions and demands from customers who do not understand (or accept) the process used by our organization.
Experienced project managers are probably either smiling as they read this, or wondering ?what?s the big deal?? The big deal is this ? unless I can, as a project manager, find the ?key? to the customers and people that work on this team, projects I am responsible for will undoubtedly falter and could even fail.
Even as I write this article, I am faced with a new challenge with a particular customer that has me, admittedly, a bit stumped. This particular customer has not responded to all the ?usual? tactics, approaches, instructions, or even accepted our help and assistance to collaboratively manage the implementation project. In fact, for the most part, I believe that this customer truly believes that because they have purchased our product that they literally, and wholly, own those of us assigned to the tasks. Sound familiar? I have spent a good deal of time thinking about this project and trying to identify methods and tools to use to bridge the gap with this customer. It is this quest that prompted me to return to some of my reference materials and books where I found something that I wanted to share with you. I hope you find this information as valuable as I.
One of my favorite books, and role models, is Eleanor Roosevelt. Her book, You Learn by Living, is literally packed with words of wisdom, common sense, and caring for the people in her family and public spotlight. In her day, Mrs. Roosevelt was an incredibly dynamic woman who had a profound impact on many people. She wrote about how to get the best out of people. I find these words very applicable for project managers and teams.
?If such a search is to be successful, however, you will need two qualities which you can develop by practice. One is the ability to be a good listener. The other is the imaginative ability to put yourself in the other person?s place; to try to discover what he (she) is thinking and feeling; to understand as far as you can the background from which he came, the soil out of which his roots have grown, the customs and beliefs and ideas which have shaped his (or her) thinking.? (page 136)
This very simple paragraph made me sit back and take notice! Have I been a good listener to my customer and their needs? Did I truly hear them, or did I passively listen? And, have I done everything I can to put myself into their situation and try to learn and understand what their basic needs and expectations are? Do I really understand how their operations and goals have affected this project? Am I supporting the customer in their need to transition to a new system and to effect positive change and improvements to their business?
After spending some time in introspective review I find that I have probably not been as diligent as I should have been with this customer. The good news is that all is not lost and I can immediately apply these principles (and questions) to my communication and work with the customer. Realistically it is going to be harder and more complicated to ?fix? any damage that has been done because of my lapse in active listening. Is it worth it to try now, when the project is almost done? Absolutely!
If you find, after reading this scenario, that you are also in this type of situation, whether it be the same industry or not, then perhaps you want to ask yourself some of the same questions I have asked of myself. Are you being a good ?miner? and working with people to get the very best out of them in order to see a project or task through to a successful end? Are you being a good listener? Are you understanding of where the customer?s needs and expectations are coming from? Take some time today to ask yourself these questions and to effect change in your communication and style to get the best out of people that you lead!
About the Author: The author manages five websites and businesses and is a member of a number of organizations for women Netpreneurs. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada USA with her two dogs. You can contact her at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org or her websites at: http://www.ebooksnstuff.com, http://www.estudy4u.com; http://www.michelewebb.com