8 Chapters
Medium 9781523097951

Skill Four How to Boost People’s Attitudes, Happiness, and Performance: The Ice Cream Cone

Wong, Zachary Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

You can find pockets of highly functional work teams in any organization. With a combination of strong leadership, a compelling mission, good resources, effective processes, talented people, and inclusive behaviors, you have a great formula for generating excellent results. We have established that behavior drives team performance and that the six key team behaviors are mutual trust, interdependence, accountability, transparency, learning, and valuing individuality. These behaviors are important for preventing exclusion, reducing conflicts, and maintaining the loop, but how do you maximize people’s performance? What is the secret for getting that extra, discretionary effort from people when you need it? Also, the new generation of workers wants much more than just challenging projects, team camaraderie and a biweekly paycheck. How do you keep people happy and satisfied with their work? How do you ensure continued high team commitment? All teams and individuals have their ups and downs—how do you invigorate a team when things get a bit dull? These are some of the questions we will be addressing in Skill Four.

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Medium 9781523097951

Skill Five How to Turn Around Difficult People and Underperformers: Roll the Ball Forward

Wong, Zachary Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

In the previous skill, the ice cream cone and finger injury cases served as valuable testimonies that attitude is a key determinant of motivation, happiness, and performance. But unfortunately, ice cream is not the solution for all people problems, and not everyone’s attitude can be improved with a pat on the back. It’s not uncommon to encounter employees who under-perform, carry a less than desirable attitude, and make minimal contributions yet they see no problems with their performance or behaviors. These individuals are known as difficult people and underperformers, and it takes a special set of skills to understand and correct these low performers. Difficult and underperforming behaviors are probably the toughest people problems to solve because your options are few and far between. You can’t excuse it and reward bad behaviors. You know that doing nothing can be a slow death for your project, so you’re left with the unenviable task of confronting the problem employee. Confronting poor performers is a process that most project leaders don’t like to face, but Skill Five offers a new and effective model for addressing and turning around difficult people and underperformers.

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Skill Seven How to Succeed When Faced with Change, Problems, and New Challenges: The Black Box Effect

Wong, Zachary Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

What do change, problems, and new challenges have in common? They all involve managing uncertainty. In project management, uncertainties are normal, expected, unavoidable, and inherent in the work. You have to contend with uncertainties in project execution, schedules, budgeting, procurement, contracting, and technology, as well as in leading people. Nothing in project management is predictable or guaranteed, so you’d better be good at managing uncertainty.

How is managing uncertainty a people problem? Uncertainty causes fear in people—often manifested as worry, concern, and anxiety—and excessive fear is the root cause for bad behaviors, conflicts, and poor performance. One of the most adverse behaviors that fear creates is risk aversion, and one critical behavior for overcoming the effects of fear from uncertainty is risk taking.

To run a successful team project, avoiding risk is not an option—you have to take risks. You’re taking a risk just by managing a project and leading your team through changes, conflicts, problems, and new challenges. You’re expected to help your team take risks in seeking better and faster ways to get things done, trying new approaches to solve problems, and improving work processes.

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Medium 9781523097951

Skill Six How to Motivate the Right Team Behaviors: The ABC Boxes

Wong, Zachary Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Skill Six is probably the quintessential skill for project leaders because it addresses the one factor that can make or break projects: team behavior. If you don’t have a plan for managing team behavior, you’re leaving the fate of your project to luck or hope. You’re hoping that people will get along, show the right behaviors, and not have any bad people problems. This is known as wishful thinking or ad hoc people management, and it’s not the strategy you want to use.

You can’t leave behavior to chance and assume everyone will work together well. What is your strategy for identifying, deploying, and ensuring that your team will demonstrate the right behaviors? Most project leaders don’t have one or rely on project management processes to take care of it. Skill Six offers an effective model in behavioral management for project leaders to define, shape, and facilitate the right behaviors for team success.

CASE 6.1: THE AMBITIOUS PROJECT MANAGER—DOES THE END JUSTIFY THE MEANS?

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Skill One How to Diagnose and Correct People Problems: The Wedge

Wong, Zachary Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Diagnosing and solving people problems begin by understanding the basic configuration of today’s organizations. Historically, the classic model for organizational structures has been the pyramid, where a small number of executives resided at the pinnacle, senior managers sat just below that, a slew of middle managers populated the midsection, and the widest, biggest, and lowest tier represented the employee base (Figure 1.1, left-hand side). It was top-down management, and the hierarchy represented the relative distribution of authority, decision-making, knowledge, and pay. The higher you were, the more you had, and the people below served the people above. The bulk of the employees resided in the lower half of the pyramid and had limited power, control, and access to information. Also, moving up the hierarchy in terms of advancement and internal communications was a steep climb. However, over time the assumption that workers are laborers who require close supervision and a “command and control” structure has become more obsolete.

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