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Whether it’s in-person or virtual, PMI events give you the right skills to complete amazing projects. In this blog, whether it be our Virtual Experience Series, PMI Training (formerly Seminars World) and our inaugural PMI® Global Summit 2022, experienced event presenters past, present and future from the entire PMI event family share their knowledge on a wide range of issues important to project managers.

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Recent Posts

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Presentation Recap: Session 308: Operation Readiness: A Systematic Approach for Industrial Construction Projects

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Presentation Recap: Session 313: Project Takeover: Transition toward Success

Viewing Posts by Archana Shetty

Presentation Recap: Collaborative Leadership in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

By Archana Shetty, PMP
Founder and CEO, WELEAD

I recently presented at the PMI Virtual Experience Series 2021 event on 6-7 October, which was an amazing opportunity to learn from fellow speakers and participate in exhibits and networking activities.

My presentation, Collaborative Leadership in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, focused on how project leaders could use the collaborative leadership model to address the challenges that leaders are experiencing right now, such as low team morale, burnout, decrease in engagement, disconnection, stress, anxiety, deteriorating culture and other salient issues that leaders face during uncertainty and rapid change.

The collaborative leadership model helps leaders build and sustain high-performing, value-creating, self-organized, resilient teams that thrive even in uncertainty. Applying the framework ultimately increases resiliency, talent density, collaborative work, a high-trust culture, employee engagement and customer delight.

Many of the participants appreciated these key takeaways from the presentation:

  • Building blocks of Collaborative Leadership
  • Mindset of collaborative Leaders
  • Practical tips & techniques to foster effective collaboration

During my presentation, I received a lot of great questions especially around appraisal and feedback, and I would like to expand on that topic here.

Today the micro-unit of success in an organization is no longer an individual but a team – it’s the cohesion and bond within a team that creates energy. When done well, it has the potential to fuel an entire organization. It’s the law of chemistry - energy is released when bonds form. 

As leaders, we have an incredible opportunity to create bonds, to create an environment where teams can thrive. One of the pieces in the puzzle of creating a thriving environment in my collaborative leadership model is feedback. How do we provide feedback, aka “have a thrive conversation,” using the collaborative leadership model?

Feedback is typically given during the annual performance review process once or twice a year. The appraisal is then linked to a bonus or financial incentives. Annual appraisals are generally conducted through the lens of fixing the gaps – What has gone wrong? What needs to be done to fix the weakness? The conversation typically revolves around the gaps. This is draining for both the manager and employee. It’s no wonder that most people dread appraisals.

There was a time in organizational history when this was useful because there wasn’t any feedback back then. Feedback was introduced as a tool in 1950’s with the noble intention of improving performance.

If you are like me, you would want feedback to legitimately get better, but when these conversations happen once or twice a year, they are not very useful because either it’s too late, or too generic or out of context. Appraisal then becomes just a formality, a checkbox to tick.

Organizational psychologist and Stanford professor Bob Sutton once told the New York Times, “If performance evaluations were a drug, they would not receive FDA approval. They have so many side effects, and so often they fail.”

To really help people improve and grow, they need to know how they are doing while they are doing. Imagine raising the flags and penalizing the players after the football game is over!

That’s why I would like leaders to look at appraisals differently. Instead of providing feedback on performance once or twice a year, make it a habit to help people learn, grow and improve over the course of the year. Make the process a rewarding experience and use the medium to motivate and develop people. Make the conversations specific and often via individual and team interactions. Recognize people not only for their individual achievements but also for their behavior and collective achievements. Reward collaboration; make it a two-way conversation with individuals and have open discussions with the team.

Here are three tips to turn the appraisal process into a “thrive conversation”:

  1. Be Curious. Show a genuine curiosity for their work. What do they like about their work and what do they find challenging? What support do they need to make their work meaningful? 

Ask how well did they work together? How frequently did they demonstrate values that are congruent to the organization? How well did they support one another? Also, do not be afraid to tell the truth. Provide candid feedback in the spirit of helping them grow. Bring the observed behaviors to the open – positive or negative – and ask them how that can be improved. Allow them realize their strengths and how they can improve rather than tell them how you do it because your skills, strengths and experiences are different.

  1. Connect their contribution to the Purpose.  Make them feel that their work matters. Show them their strengths and talk to them frequently about how they are making a difference in the larger project and beyond. Connect their contribution to the purpose, why their work matters. From research from the Corporate Leadership Council, we know that emphasis on strengths is linked to a 36% improvement, while emphasis on weaknesses is linked to a 27% decline.
  1. Demonstrate Compassion. Exercise compassion by genuinely listening to their concerns, areas of struggle and helping them move forward. Instead of punishing a person for not doing well, dive deep into what is getting in the way. Make it safe for them to fully express themselves. Make them feel seen and heard. Take action by providing resources, offering support if they are going through a difficult time, removing a bottleneck, etc. (whatever is relevant for them at that time), that shows them that you are helping them succeed and thrive.

This process leaves little room for people to pitch against each other. When you can apply the “thrive conversation” of collaborative leadership, it becomes a learning process, growing and thriving together. The focus shifts from ME and competition towards WE and collaboration. When people feel more connected, it increases their overall well-being. This way you are also contributing to the greater good of humanity.

We need project leaders to model these behaviors because people don't listen to what leaders say; they pay attention to what leaders do. It takes courage to turn the tables. But it’s time to change. If not now, when?

We often underestimate how much courage we have and how much we can change. We need inspiring leaders like you to question the existing process, to challenge people, to move them, to inspire them, and there is nothing more thrilling than igniting the spark.

Be the one who ignites the spark, be the force for good. Be the hero in people’s lives.

Now, let’s make this actionable What micro-step can you take to create a “thrive conversation” and a better experience for all?

I had a great time presenting, and the full presentation will be on demand through 31 January 2022. Visit PMI Virtual Experience Series 2021 for more details.

Posted by Archana Shetty on: October 26, 2021 02:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Upcoming Presentation: Collaborative Leadership in the Age of Artificial Intelligence (Embrace Collaborative Leadership to Retain Talent)

By Archana Shetty, PMP
Founder and CEO, WELEAD

Won’t you agree that the pandemic has exposed some of the weakest links in organizations?

Over the past year and a half, the pandemic has caused many people to rethink their priorities. Workers are making decisions to leave based on how their employers treated them. For many others, it’s the stress of increasing workload and burnout. Research from Qualtrics shows that stress and burnout are the main reasons people are thinking of leaving their jobs in the coming months and year — a time economists are calling “The Great Resignation.”

At the same time, customers are demanding more. They want better, faster products and services.

This poses an interesting challenge for leaders. On the one hand, rapidly adapting or pivoting to the changing needs of the customers is essential, and on the other hand keeping employees motivated during uncertain times is crucial. One of the leaders described this as a “tug of war” and another manager said he was sandwiched between different stakeholders who seemed to be on opposite ends of the spectrum. As a result, they felt anxious, lonely and unsupported. 

So how do you juggle multiple demands while maintaining your own sanity?

To be able to succeed and thrive in this new, ever-changing world, you need news tools and new skills. You cannot rely on the same systems and methods that got you here. You need to reimagine your ways of working, reskill your people, and redesign your work environment to facilitate the next level of collaboration and achieve your larger goal. I call this collaborative leadership.

Equipping leaders to adapt to uncertainty, helping teams to not only bounce back but grow from setbacks, and creating a workplace where teams can collaborate and thrive is becoming increasingly important and urgent. 

Most companies I have spoken with are saying that they are promoting well-being and a collaborative culture, but the reality is that very few of those actually have concrete strategies for how they're going to get there. Conducting a yoga session or offering a gym membership to your stressed out employee does not address the root cause. I also see leaders offering additional vacation time, or a week off to give employees a break. These are all helpful measures, but they’re usually not enough to turn things around on a long-term basis. 

The good news is that well-being and collaboration can be cultivated at workplaces if leaders get intentional about making the required changes in themselves, in their teams and in the culture. Here I would like to echo the words of Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, “I believe that a strong culture is critical to companies that hope to scale. But truly strong company cultures emerge only when every employee feels they personally own the culture.” (Hoffman, Masters of Scale Podcast, 2020)
I believe we can improve well-being and create a collaborative culture by optimizing both human and machine intelligence so we can achieve both efficient and effective outcomes together and make a lasting impact in our world.

If you’re interested in exploring the concepts behind collaborative leadership in greater detail, join me in Session 418: Collaborative Leadership in the Age of Artificial Intelligence on 7 October at 1:30 a.m. EDT US/Eastern at the PMI Virtual Experience Series 2021.

Posted by Archana Shetty on: September 08, 2021 02:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
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