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DYER PREDICTIONS



Sue Dyer's THINK TANK on the strategic trends effecting business leaders and organizations



Updated: 2007-08-27T11:06:26-07:00

 



Breaking the Negativity Habit

2007-08-27T11:06:26-07:00

There always seems to be one on the team, the person who says, “we can’t do that” or “that isn’t my job,” bringing an attitude of negativity to your group. Negativity in the workplace is like a cancer. One person’s...

There always seems to be one on the team, the person who says, “we can’t do that” or “that isn’t my job,” bringing an attitude of negativity to your group.  Negativity in the workplace is like a cancer.  One person’s bad attitude can spread throughout the organization, severely hurting your business.  You need to confront this individual about their negative behavior by giving them feedback.

A negative reaction is not a personality trait, it’s bad behavior, and bad behavior often becomes a habit.  Many “negative” people don’t even realize that they are being negative.  Once you point out to them what they are saying, and how it affects you, they can begin to break the bad habit.  Work with the person to come up with ideas for a new way to respond to requests.  They probably need help with this because they are stuck in their current behavior and really can’t see any other way to act.  Praise them when you see a change in the negative behavior – this will help to reinforce the change by providing feedback that the change is working.




Separating 'People' from the 'Problem'

2007-07-18T18:07:55-07:00

Often, when conflict erupts on our project, we begin to look for who is to blame. It is easy to get caught up in the “fight” and in “winning.” It’s a lot harder to get the issue resolved while ensuring...

Often, when conflict erupts on our project, we begin to look for who is to blame.  It is easy to get caught up in the “fight” and in “winning.”  It’s a lot harder to get the issue resolved while ensuring that your relationships remain undamaged.  Don’t forget, everyone will still have to work together to complete the project.  Try the following steps to avoid being trapped in this vicious win/lose cycle:

1.  Seek to understand the problem – Ask probing questions to try to flesh out all aspects of the problem, no matter how angry or hostile the other parties seem to be.  Don’t become defensive; you are trying to understand the problem and the assumptions each of the other stakeholders have.  This will give you a clearer picture of what the real issues are.

2.  Don’t make it personal – Take an objective point of view – don’t become engaged in the battle!  Take the role of negotiator or fact finder.  As people get wrapped up in the battle and in trying to win, the more likely they are to start feeling that the issue is a personal matter.   Remember, it is a project issue.  Your success will depend on your ability to not take things personally.

3.  Don’t seek blame – Avoid the “blame” trap.  Seek solutions and understanding.  People generally act logically; your job is to find the logic behind their actions.  It is always there and often has nothing to do with the stated problem.

4.  Agree on the problem – Work to gain agreement on what the problem is before you attempt to find solutions.  If we don’t agree on what the problem is how can we ever agree on the solution?

If you follow these four steps, you will develop productive problem solving on your projects… and you will find yourself keeping your cool despite what others are doing.




The Chinese Finger Puzzle

2007-06-20T08:32:22-07:00

Most children have at one time or another played with a woven straw cylinder that is a few inches long known as a "Chinese finger puzzle". There is an opening at each end just large enough for a finger to...



The Power of Leadership

2007-05-17T10:00:11-07:00

Lately, many business articles and blogs have been concentrating on Leadership (Raven’s Brain, has been posting on how to be a good leader; this month’s Business 2.0 has the cover article, "Ripping Up the Rules of Management") . I would...

Lately, many business articles and blogs have been concentrating on Leadership (Raven’s Brain, has been posting on how to be a good leader; this month’s Business 2.0 has the cover article, "Ripping Up the Rules of Management") . I would like to talk about the power of a leader during meetings. No one can stop a conversation faster than the person in the room with the most authentic power. When that person talks, everyone else stops talking and listens. They may listen because the leader has something worthwhile to say or, unfortunately, they could be listening because they fear retribution. In order to have a successful meeting, the most powerful person (or people) in the room needs to “step back” and allow the team to be empowered. Without empowerment a true partnership cannot develop. Relationships will be based on the hierarchy of each organization.

Remember, a good leader:
Opens up communications
Seeks to understand and resolve problems
Builds a team




The Root Causes of Miscommunication

2007-04-03T12:24:29-07:00

Raven’s Brain, quotes an article written in ComputerWorld, “For IT Projects, Silence Can Be Deadly” . The article says “The research suggests that the culprit in 85% of project failures is silence. The study showed that there is a definable... Raven’s Brain, quotes an article written in ComputerWorld, “For IT Projects, Silence Can Be Deadly” . The article says “The research suggests that the culprit in 85% of project failures is silence. The study showed that there is a definable set of project communication problems that are far more common than most senior leaders realize. An estimated 90% of project managers routinely encounter one or more of five critical problems in the course of a project, but the killer is the silence that follows.” For the past ten years I have asked project teams “from your experience, what is it that makes one project succeed and another fail?” Over 95% of team members said that good communication was the reason for their success. After asking this question of 134 different project teams, and then working with each team to improve their results, I began to realize that often what the team believes to be a “communication” issue is actually a symptom of the real problem – or root cause. When a team identifies their problem as one of poor communication and then works to try and resolve the issue, significant improvement could not be made. Only by understanding and addressing the root cause was any improvement seen. There are seven different root causes for team failure that the project teams misidentified as poor communication. 1. Fear – Fear makes team members feel the need to protect their own interests. When we feel to the need to protect we are not going to be open, therefore communication is going to be stifled. To overcome fear you must work to develop trust among the team members. Trust develops when you do what you say you are going to do and by doing your part to help the team succeed. Trust erodes when someone feels they are being treated unfairly. So always talk about what is fair when you see fear erupting on your project. Then, work to find a way to resolve issues that is fair to everyone involved. 2. Misaligned expectations – When the team members each have a different expectation on how things are supposed to work (usually about roles, responsibilities and authority), you have misaligned expectations. Draw a picture of how your team is organized. Who is doing what, how do people fit into the process? What is their role? Who has the authority to make which decision? What is the decision making process? By drawing a picture and allowing team members to ask questions, you will begin to align expectations by agreeing on how things are supposed to (or need to) work. 3. Confusion – When there is confusion, chaos will break out. Again, this can be over roles and responsibilities, or over processes. Work to become a Trusted Leader. For a team to succeed, someone must be the leader. When there is no clear leader, people vie for power and position, and that never leads to success. Instead work to become a trusted leader. A trusted leader is someone who people follow because they trust them to lead the team to success. The leader can offer clear direction problem solving and decision making when needed. 4. Loss of Momentum – When everyone on the team is not in the boat, facing the same direction, and rowing toward project success, the project loses momentum. The more frustration there is, the more loss of momentum you will have. Resolve issues quickly. Teams start out and gain momentum over time. When problems and issues arise it causes a loss of momentum. However, if the problem or issue is resolved quickly the momentum I sonly slightly diminished and the team continues to move forward and grow. 5. Dissatisfaction – Research shows that when project teams dread going to their jobs (the level of the job [...]



Keeping Score

2007-03-07T22:05:09-08:00

On his March 5th blog entry, Scoreboards & Construction, Dan Brown mentions an article written by Dennis Sowards called You Can Be Guided by Scoreboard, Dashboard. Dennis talks about how it is important for companies to use a "Scoreboard" to...

On his March 5th blog entry, Scoreboards & Construction, Dan Brown mentions an article written by Dennis Sowards called You Can Be Guided by Scoreboard, Dashboard.

Dennis talks about how it is important for companies to use a "Scoreboard" to keep track of the company’s profitability, customer and employee satisfaction, safety, etc., and a "Dashboard" to keep track of the details that get the company to the end result (for example: cash available, invoices outstanding, etc).

Projects also benefit from a Scorecard approach. A two-year study conducted by the International Partnering Institute showed that every project team that had a monthly scorecard improved over the life of the project. The study was based 13 different projects over the course of two years. Projects were primarily construction projects, but also included a strategic planning project and an information technology project. Each team came together at the start of their project in a “partnering” session. The partnering session allowed the team members to get to know one another and to agree on roles and responsibilities as well as how decisions would be made (process). Together the team created a commitment on how they would work together (behavior), goals for the project (results), and then they identified barriers to the achievement of those goals. Once they prioritized the barriers most critical for their success, they created ways to break down the barrier or mitigate the impact of the barrier. They made commitments to one another (commitments). All of these agreements were included in a monthly scorecard.

The scorecard was sent out to each individual team member every month over the course of the project. The individual rated how well the team was doing at living up to its commitments and agreements. Ratings were on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being Excellent and 1 being Poor. A report was sent to each team member monthly indicating where the team felt they were with regard to their behavior, process, goals and commitments. All scorecards and scorecard reports were sent to and from a neutral third party so that confidentiality was assured. It is imperative that the team members feel free to tell the truth from their perspective. That is what the neutral facilitator permits.

If you are interested in implementing a project scorecard for your team, here are some tips to help assure its success.

1. The team members need to be a part of developing the measures so that they buy-in and are committed to them. Measures need to be updated approximately every 90 days to make sure they are current and relevant.
2. Team members will not tell the truth if there is fear of retribution, so having a neutral third party implement the scorecard is important to its success.
3. Teams that review their scorecard results monthly were much more likely to be able to improve. The best results came when the scorecard was “required” and not optional.
4. Senior management who met together on a regular basis to review the scorecard results and then worked to support the team by removing barriers and providing resources significantly contributed to the success of the project.
5. Organizations that had several scorecards for different projects began to see patterns, thus identifying internal issues that were preventing project success.




Project Leadership

2007-02-25T06:45:38-08:00

Projects are managed… sometimes very well, sometimes not. People are led. That takes good leadership along with good project management skills. Project leadership falls to those people who are in charge of the daily work on your project. Leadership can...

Projects are managed… sometimes very well, sometimes not. People are led. That takes good leadership along with good project management skills. Project leadership falls to those people who are in charge of the daily work on your project.

Leadership can be difficult to define. We do know that even a highly intelligent and skilled individual can fail at leadership. Another person with solid, yet not extraordinary abilities can soar. When promoting people we need to look not only at their intelligence and technical skills, but also (and maybe even more importantly) at their people skills. Research done on emotional intelligence indicates that if people don’t develop the five components of emotional intelligence their leadership abilities will fall short. They may even fail at their job. Fortunately, emotional intelligence skills can be learned. While most people are adept at one or more of the five components, all five need to be present for true leadership.

THE FIVE COMPONENTS OF EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

Self-Awareness
The ability to recognize and understand your moods, emotions and drives, as well as their affect on others

Attributes
• Self-confidence
• Realistic self-assessment
• Self-deprecating sense of humor

Self-Regulation
The ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods.
The propensity to suspend judgment – to think before acting.

Attributes:
• Trustworthiness and integrity
• Comfort with ambiguity
• Openness to change

Motivation
A passion to work for reasons that go beyond money or status.
A propensity to pursue goals with energy and persistence

Attributes:
• Strong drive to achieve
• Optimism, even in the face of failure
• Organizational commitment

Empathy The ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people.
Skill in treating people according to their emotional reactions

Attributes:
• Expertise in building and retaining talent
• Cross-cultural sensitivity
• Service to clients and customers

Social Skill
Proficiency in managing relationships and building networks.
An ability to find common ground and build rapport.

Attributes:
• Effectiveness in leading change
• Persuasiveness
• Expertise in building and leading teams

These components are as important to project success as good project management. Leaders in the field must learn these skills and take an active leadership role. By taking responsibility, not only for safety and budgets, but also for disputes, coordination, motivation, and communication, they will help assure that a project will be successful. If the project leaders accept these responsibilities, all the group members will be able to follow their lead.




The Four Barriers to Partnering

2007-02-17T14:04:44-08:00

Listed below in order of priority are four barriers that can stop you from successfully partnering a project. Barrier #1: Lack of commitment to, or believe in, the process and concept of partnering. This lack of commitment can range from...



Women for Wealth

2007-02-17T14:01:04-08:00

I would like to thank Liz Uible, Christine Harvey and the Women for Wealth for the opportunity to speak with them. If you would like to hear the interview, please call 1-641-985-5999 and enter code 22882#. In addition, Christine Harvey...



Building Project Team Relationships

2007-01-25T19:59:25-08:00

Hal Macomber just posted a great article on the Reforming Project Management online Magazine entitled Ten New Rules for Project Mangers. One of item on his list caught my eye: 6. Build relationships intentionally.
 Project teams come together as strangers.... Hal Macomber just posted a great article on the Reforming Project Management online Magazine entitled Ten New Rules for Project Mangers. One of item on his list caught my eye: 6. Build relationships intentionally.
 Project teams come together as strangers. To do great work…innovation, learning, and collaboration…all take people who like and care for each other. Don't leave that to chance. Start your projects by building relationships among team members. Here are ten tips for developing relationships among team members. 80% of your results will come from 20% of your effort. This is known as the Praeto principle. Try and stay focused on that important 20% of your work that will lead you to 80% of your results. Nothing will change until you act. If, while standing in the middle of the road, you see a truck coming at you and you fail to get off the road you will get run over. This is known as the prominent outcome. How often do we see project issues coming at us yet fail to do anything? You must take action; it is easy to predict what will happen if you don’t. Create solutions, not winners/losers. Don’t worry about winning or losing when you are trying to negotiate. Instead, focus on creating solutions that work for everyone. Winning and losing is old baggage from our adversarial relationships. Agree on the problem. If one person sees the problem as X, and the other person sees it as Y, then naturally they aren’t going to agree on a solution. It is critical that you talk to each other enough to agree on the problem, and then you are likely to be able to find a solution. Allow people closest to the problem to resolve the issue. Quality decisions come from those closest to the issue. Quality goes down as issues move away from the project level and issues tend to grow in cost and time. Keep perspective. Too often we see our job as putting out fires. Everyday there is the problem-of-the-day or moment to contend with. Over time, we begin to lose perspective. Remember that 90+% of the project is running along fine; it’s only a small part that has problems. Celebrate successes. It is important to celebrate your successes along the way and to have fun. It will help diffuse the stress level and open up communication within the project team. After all, we’re just people who’ve come together to build a project. Build on common ground. When creating project objectives, focus on those things that you all have in common: quality, safety, being on time and on budget. All of these things make for a successful project and are common goals for everyone. Keep focused on those things you have in common, NOT on your differences. Make conflict constructive NOT destructive. Conflict need not be destructive, destroying relationships and communication. Conflict can be constructive, spurring discussions and pointing out areas in need of work, helping the project to improve. It’s all a matter of attitude and approach. Always put fairness on the negotiating table. Start every negotiation or issue resolution session by first putting fairness on the table. Always ask, “What is a fair way to resolve this issue?” You will never be too far apart. [...]