Project Management

People, Perception and Personality: What Color Is Your Project Manager?

Mark Mullaly is president of Interthink Consulting Incorporated, an organizational development and change firm specializing in the creation of effective organizational project management solutions. Since 1990, it has worked with companies throughout North America to develop, enhance and implement effective project management tools, processes, structures and capabilities. Mark was most recently co-lead investigator of the Value of Project Management research project sponsored by PMI. You can read more of his writing at markmullaly.com.

One of the hardest challenges any of us deal with in life is knowing how others see us. The face we project to the outside world is driven not just by our thoughts and emotions, but also by the situations we find ourselves in and how people interpret and perceive us in the context of those situations.  

As kids, we all played the "telephone game" – whisper a sentence in someone’s ear, and have it go around the circle and come back to you as something completely different. You may have meant something very specific and precise, but it is extremely rare that our words – or worse, our behaviors – are interpreted precisely as we intended them.

Now, you may be saying to yourself that this all sounds touchy-feely and not terribly related to project management, but let’s be honest – project management isn’t just about Gantt charts, budgets and bending Microsoft Project to our will. The best project managers I know are the best communicators – the ones who can recognize what needs to be said, how it needs to be interpreted and how best to present the information so the recipient really does perceive it the way it was intended.

Most of us like to think that we already are great communicators. We can all cite examples of individuals and teams that we just connected with easily: I said, they heard, we all did. But what about that customer who just didn’t get…


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