In my previous articles (Part-1 and Part-2) I elaborated on the importance of personal branding and impacts of first introduction with new team and organization for creating a long-term relationship. In this article I will narrate the beginning of the journey while nurturing the base of establishing personal reputation within the new organization and the new project team. Well, these are definitely based on my personal experiences and understanding.
Generally, members of the project team/organization remain observant after a new Project Manager (PM)/a new member joins the team. There will be some people who will come forward spontaneously and interact with new joiner either as a gesture of welcoming or may be to indulge own credibility. There would be a few people who would come forward just to pamper the new boss! And there would some who may not be courteous to say ‘hello’ or may remain nonreciprocal even to a greeting nod! A well crafted interpersonal and communication approach is thus needed for a new PM or a new joiner to embrace such challenges and deals with these diverse groups of people in an organization to establish self-reputation.
I believe that the best approach to associate with all these people at the initial days would be to maintain a ‘universal cheerful gesture’ even in the advent of random eccentricities. Although this may sound ridiculous, but I am actually suggesting wearing a ‘mask of glued smiling face’ during initial days! This would certainly require having strong control over egoistic reactions in the event of any irrational or erratic behaviors. But I can assure you that this would highly pay in the long run, a dividend that would pave the way to establishing long-term relationship with applauded personal branding in the organization and within the project team. This is very important to create an initial image in people’s mind about you as a new joiner and also saves from ‘dislike’ or ‘disapproval’ kind of impressions at the beginning of the journey in the organization.
It is very important to be discrete while displaying appropriate interpersonal skills by being prudent and judgmental while reciprocating to people’s behaviors at the initial days. Any over or under reactions (being too sarcastic or naïve) may jeopardize the entire gambit of creating a positive image or impression in the people’s mind. I would suggest avoiding or remain very careful about the work life idiosyncrasies like talking much listen less, interrupting while others still speaking, questing before hearing the end, attitude of ‘master of all trades’ etc. during initial days that would most likely to create negative impression and would ultimately impede the process of creating a positive image.
People in the organization/project team follow through the daily routine and work life especially managerial and leadership competencies of the PM joined newly. The same is the case for any new joiner in an organization. Let me speak more about the areas of minor details – the ‘down to earth behavioral attributes’ that are important in new work place or new assignment immediately after the joining.
People are generally immune to changes. Any radical or abrupt changes would not be welcomed. Hence, it is not suggested to drive in any changes at this stage. The befitting approach at this stage would be to get oriented with new environment and know the new team. For a new PM or new joiner, this is the time to get oriented with the organizational culture and traditions (and may be political environment!), human resource process and policies, study project documents, get introduced with project stakeholders, understand the level of power and influence of the project stakeholders etc. To be methodical, one can start own SWOT analysis while getting along with the initial stage of orientation with the team and the organization. It would be wise to keep the notes of own understandings and observations about everything for setting the course of actions in subsequent days.
It is also equally important to abide by organizational rules and regulations very methodically with ‘Zero’ tolerance. This includes ensuring office timing and timely attendance to any team meetings or programs inside and outside the organizations. Dress code of the organization is to be strictly followed. These seem to be very nominal and one may wonder why am I writing these when these are nothing but commonsense. Unfortunately, these minor details although seem to be commonsense but are seldom done correctly. In real life world, these minor details largely contribute in creating the basic image of a new PM or a new joiner in the peoples’ mind and truly sow the seeds of establishing personal branding in the organization.
Behavioral discipline and disciplined mind are primal to become a good employee, a good colleague and a leader to be followed. These also help in shaping up the minds of people in accepting a new PM and a new joiner with spontaneity. In my work places I observed direct reports and team members who started changing their own behaviors (noncompliant to organizational rules and norms) after seeing the PM or manager even without telling anything. These basic work life disciplines are powerfully contagious and work automatically in shaping the behaviors of others. Well, that’s what is all about leadership – the art of influencing the behaviors of others!
In my previous article (Personal Branding of a Project Manager: Part - 1) I presented a brief synopsis on the importance and impact of personal branding or personal reputation of a Project Manager (PM) in an organization based on my experiences. I also reflected as to how the lack of personal reputation can trail the project success to failure. Perhaps we all know that the remedial measures are linked to leadership traits and most of us already know these. Like I said earlier, I would be sharing the small details that matter most to achieve those relevant leadership traits and ultimately establish the personal branding in the organization and within the team.
There are many doctrines of thoughts on leadership that generated enormous publications of books comprehending principles and guidelines of developing leadership competency. There are also abundant research papers, articles and documentaries on leadership available even in the Internet. I will try avoiding speaking about high level spectrums of leadership; rather I would speak about the minor details – the ‘down to earth behavioral attributes’ that matter most for establishing personal reputation in an organization; even in our personal and social ecosystem. I can assure you that summary of these minor details indeed are the most essential ingredients and ultimately contribute to the big bang theories and principles of leadership in general.
When a new PM takes over a project or anyone joins in an organization, project teams or peers and colleagues are not aware of, nor do they care much about the level of leadership competency at the first sight of the new PM or the incumbent. The dynamic of first introduction and interaction is in fact the way the incumbent greets and meets irrespective of any lack or absence of welcoming gestures in the recipients’ end. Typically, most of the people tend to remain as impassive observant while receiving an incumbent although they minutely observe everything starting from dress up to bodily movement, facial expression and manner and etiquettes. As an incumbent, one should always remember that ‘it is me who will need to get adapted with the new team or organizational environment, not the other way round’. Here, I am not advocating merging with any prevailing malpractice or unethical norms and standards by compromising ones own ethical values. Rather, I am emphasizing to create the first impression of acceptance in a new setup. One can always work on driving the appropriate or required changes after establishing the initial foothold within the team and as whole, in the organization.
The art of exchanging greetings and self-introduction at the first meeting plays a very vital role to create the first impression within the new project team and new colleagues in the organization. One must be very careful about controlling the egocentric drives in oneself. Most often people tend to withdraw from being friendly or conversational and hence express a reserve attitude while exchanging words of greetings or introducing themselves. Here is the very first alarm of becoming ‘persona non grata’ in peoples’ mind and is truly detrimental to establishing the foundation of a long-term relationship with spontaneous acceptance within the project team and the organization! This may even permanently seal-off the possibility of promoting oneself in the organization in future days to come.
In my personal, social and professional experiences I observed people onboard newly, attempt directly or indirectly, to draw the attention or respect of people they are meeting for the first time. They start with what great things they did or in what hierarchical grades they worked previously and in what grades they are joining in the new organization rather than telling the basics in the first introduction like name, new portfolio they are taking over, expressing gratitude with aspiration of working together as a team or at best, they can tell about the previous organizations they worked with etc. And in the process they end up with either being too much charismatic or gets uncontrollably overwhelmed on ‘beating the own drum’ that in reality interprets to as sort of ‘mockery’ or ‘person being naïve’ to recipients mind! Again, this is again an alarm to impede the establishment of self-reputation in the organization from which none to blame but them. There must be appropriate balance while introducing oneself for the first time to a new project team and in a new organizational setup.
It is thus predominant to understand and accept the fact that the inception of establishing personal reputation begins at the first day of the journey in the new assignment as PM or as a new member in the organization. Once this is done appropriately, on a lighter note, the mystical analogy of ‘falling in love at the first sight’ is achieved! On a serious note, I believe this is the most essential prerequisite one must achieve without which it would be extremely difficult for one to create reputation or establish personal branding in the organization.
Md. Abdullah Al Mamoon, PMP
Managing projects has inherent challenges. The magnitude of the challenges is even greater in functional or matrix organizations. Challenges get further multifaceted based on the level of organizational maturity on project management. A Project Manager (PM) is the first point of contract to encounter every such challenge in a project. It is thus pivotal for a PM to have the aptitude and prudency to manage these challenges across the project life cycle. Holistically, leadership is the fulcrum of managing such challenges and under the microscope; it is personal reputation of a PM that does matter to a large extent.
In my years of project management experiences in various companies and varied organizational environments involving heterogeneous group of stakeholders and team members with diverse cultural background from home and abroad, I truly felt the significance of personal branding of a PM. There were couples of instances where I took over projects from previous PMs since project progresses were almost stagnant. I found those PMs were not inferior in their hard and soft skills but they were not somehow able to pursue the project progress. And gradually, they lost the confidence of project team members since they failed to demonstrate any rays of hope of winning moments.
So, why did those PMs fail despite having required knowledge and experiences? One of the most prominent root causes that I found was their failure of managing the most influential stakeholders. They failed to manage those stakeholders because they were not acceptable to the stakeholders. They were not acceptable since they failed to establish their personal reputation or personal branding in the organization. This ultimately caused every single project issues; some of which could have been resolved through project team meeting; turning up as major challenges and remained unresolved that literally halted the project progress. Project Steering Committee and the sponsors, the highest project governance body in the organization, at some point gave up the hope of project delivery when they observed that they needed to intervene into the small issues or minor operational details even though those were delegated to PM. This also caused many administrative issues of the project and project team remained unaddressed and unresolved; and hence project team started losing the confidence on the PM.
I presume this is a typical aftermath of many failed projects in the domain of project management all over the world. And the phenomenon; i.e. absence of personal branding or reputation that mainly caused the ramification is one of the most essential components of leadership in general and a vital element of Emotional Intelligence (EI) in particular. Project Management Institute (PMI), the leading not-for-profit professional membership association for the project management profession reemphasized the importance of stakeholder management in the project and incorporated a separate ‘Knowledge Area’ namely ‘Project Stakeholder Management’ (which was previously part of Knowledge Area of Project Communication Management) in the fifth edition of ‘A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)’.
I hope to continue writing on the impact of personal branding of a PM and what can be done differently to establish personal branding in the organization. I would appreciate your feedbacks.
Md. Abdullah Al Mamoon, PMP (email@example.com)
My LinkedIn Profile: https://bd.linkedin.com/in/abdullahmamoon
Exponential changes taking place across the world have contributed paradigm shift in every sectors of modern civilization. One of the most visible changes is in the workplace making the employment ever more challenging than before despite of increased avenues of employment opportunities. Whilst one of the best advantages of the changes is the creation of a changing mindset of open global job opportunities irrespective of geographical or racial inequalities, this has equally intensified the competitiveness to a large extent and has invoked ‘the survival for the fittest’ more rigorously than the past decades. Most distinctively, this new paradigm has outdated the traditional education system due to the obvious fact that the reformation of the education system in many countries like Bangladesh failed to keep pace with the global changes.
This eventually has created an enormous gap between the required knowledge and skill sets as desired by the employers and the acquired knowledge of the students particularly the university graduates through the existing conventional education system. As such, rather than a healthy beginning of a long cherished professional career after the completion of arduous academic life, fresh graduates tumble over and over for getting jobs mostly due to the mismatch in their knowledgebase and expected skill sets of the employers. And following the sequential failing endeavors of getting a job, many frustrated graduates, despite of good academic track records, get derailed and involuntarily but for the survival, indulge themselves into the terrorist or extremist activities, most frequently under the political shelter.
Some of the predominant 21st Century skills are marked by the critical thinking and problem solving, team dynamics, creativity and innovation, collaboration, cross-cultural understanding, communications, information, and media literacy, computing and ICT literacy etc. It is a matter of fact that developing and sharpening these skills would necessitate working experiences over the years during the course of continuing professional life. But fundamental knowledge and understanding of these skills have become the most crucial prerequisite for the present-days workplace and informally marked as the ‘entry pass’ for employment in most of the prominent organizations. Hence it is now the essence of time of embedding appropriate contents and learning methodology in the education system, which would enable in harnessing the most demanding essential skills of 21st Century.
Project Management methodology is one of the most comprehensive approach of implanting the learning objectives for developing the fundamentals of critical knowledge and skills in the education system. The enormous spectrum of project management knowledge delineates instrumental guiding practices for the students in planning and completing education including setting up the objectives and getting them ready for the professional life. For the teachers and educators, project management substantially contributes in planning the teaching methodology and delivering quality education. Even Government and Development Organizations including Non-profit Organizations can optimize the intended/desired outcomes of their charted projects and investments to a great extent by capitalizing and implementing the knowledge resources of project management.
Students at every level can benefit by leveraging the various knowledge areas like integration, scope, time, cost, quality, human resource, and communication etc. of project management for acquiring the quality and practical oriented knowledge. Both students and educators in schools, colleges and universities can use the processes like initiating, planning, executing, monitoring & controlling, and closing of project management. These highly structured and methodical process groups prescribe globally tested and proven standards of ensuring success while remaining focused on the learning objectives.
Project Based Learning (PBL), particularly in the college and university can be introduced which would enable structured and systematic approach in the delivery and at the same time acquiring qualitative and practical oriented education. Following the PBL approach, educators would be able to conceptualize and determine the teaching objectives in alignment with the present-days workplace requirements and needs of the students rather than being traditional, plan the appropriate teaching methodology for the delivery based on the understanding capacity of students and execute the teaching as a facilitator rather than ‘spoon feed’ style for achieving the predefined objectives. PBL contributes multiple benefits to the students including a very high rate of success in acquiring real life education. Most advantageously, PBL promotes interactive learning model that drive stimulation in organizing and planning, creative thinking and innovation, decision making, team works, communications etc. among the students. PBL approach would enable both educators and students in monitoring the progress of achieving the learning objectives at any stages, apply necessary corrections in case progress is not on the track and thereby radically increase the success rate while addressing the risk of failure in a timely manner. Last but not the least PBL by default, establishes a high degree of transparency and accountability that are the most important but missing parameters in the existing traditional education system.
We are living in a highly globalized and tech-savvy world having hardly any boundaries in learning and taking the challenge of cross boarder employments across any parts of the world. Unless we empower our next generations – the students at schools, colleges and universities through contemporary education system that would equip them with the demand driven skill sets of this century, they will lack behind in the global competition. Incorporation of project management methodology in the education system and Project Based Learning would be effective way forward of accelerating the process of achieving this imminent and much needed empowerment.
Md. Abdullah Al Mamoon, PMP (firstname.lastname@example.org)
My LinkedIn Profile: https://bd.linkedin.com/in/abdullahmamoon
Managing projects demand soft skills more than the hard skills. The most realistic rationale for this empirical maxim is due to the importance of people and relationship management for the successful delivery of the projects. Speaking from my thousands hours of project management experiences, I found most of the projects suffer heavily due to the mismanagement of project stakeholders including core project team.
A project is a temporary endeavour with mandatory constraints. And a project team by nature is generally a highly diverse composition. These two unique inheritances in project management cause huge stress in managing and leading the project team. With the progressive elaboration of project works, stress level gradually intensifies. Unless otherwise effectively managed, such high level of stress for a shorter period of time creates serious imbalance and drive ineffectiveness in project management leaderships.
As evidenced by many research findings, stress always invokes the activation of Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) that inhibits the function of Neurogenesis – a natural growth process of neural tissue. This also activates defensive mechanisms in our brain and closes the ability of creativity, critical thinking and idea generations, which are extremely crucial skills in handling various issues and risks of a project. This also contributes in the creation of many dissonant relationships within the project teams mostly due to the erratic and insensitive conducts of the highly stressed project leaders. Such behaviours of leaders are susceptible to invigorating the Negative Emotional Attractor (NEA) among the project team members that can cease the project progress and even jeopardize the project success.
To deal with such situations, components of EI such as self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, motivation, adaptability, and social skills are much needed endowments. Mindfulness and compassionate coaching embedded in the project leadership styles could be significant in reversing the situation that would invoke the activation of Para Sympathetic Nervous System (PSNS), which would revive the dysfunctional Neurogenesis process. Project teams then would be leaded by the resonant leaders who would stimulate positive motivations, aspirations and hopes among the team members creating abundant sources of Positive Emotional Attractor (PEA). And a team with plentiful of positive emotions and inspirations would be able to deliver more than the expectations.
Managing stakeholders is yet another very sensitive function in project management. Typically every project has a few influential stakeholders. Bestowed by the organizational political culture or in some cases positional hierarchy, these stakeholders directly and indirectly create huge challenges and impediments into the project works. Managing so called powerful stakeholders is imperative to project success. Social awareness and relationship management are two predominant EI components that can effectively contribute in managing the expectations of these stakeholders and pave the way forward for the smooth execution of project works.
Prioritization and selection of projects is an important exercise prior to initiate any projects since project outcomes must be in congruent with the strategic objectives of the organizations. In my personal experiences of project management, I had couple of acrimonious experiences where projects had to be terminated almost in the middle of the project management life cycle causing a huge sunk cost to the company due to the wrong selection of the project, let alone other wastes of invaluable organizational resources. While a Project Manager may not always have direct influence in the decision-making, a Program or a Portfolio Manager can certainly play very vital role in the project selection process. Social Awareness of EI competency along with Pattern Recognition and System Thinking that are competencies of Cognitive Intelligence can effectively contribute in the pre-selection analysis and making a judgmental decision in project selection.
Discovery (also a rediscovery!) of Emotional Intelligence is the blessing of the evolutionary changing world. I personally believe that EI is second to none in leadership especially in managing the most informed human resources of this century and so forth. Explicit blending of this powerful knowledge and practice into the project management knowledge can effectively leverage the success rate of all types projects across global industries.
So, what do you think about the importance of EI in Project Management? Do you have a story to share where you applied EI to overcome a situation? I would really appreciate sharing you perspectives and perceptions.
Acknowledgement: I attended a course on ‘Inspiring Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence’ organized by Coursera.org (www.coursera.org). Distinguished Professor of Organizational Behaviour, Psychology and Cognitive Science Richard E. Boyatzis, Ph.D. of Case Western Reserve University from USA facilitated the course. I am truly inspired to study and learn more and more on Emotional Intelligence (EI) after attending this course. As I am continuing my learning endeavour I am also finding the incredible implications of EI in almost every spheres of our life. During one of the video lectures Professor Boyatzis rightly mentioned that most of the aspects of EI are ‘Common sense; but they are not common practice’. This is indeed an imperial fact. This write-up is all about my personal understanding of EI and how components of EI are so invaluable in managing projects, programs and portfolios. Various terms of EI used in the write-up are incorporated from the reading materials and video lectures of the course.
Md. Abdullah Al Mamoon, PMP (email@example.com)
My LinkedIn Profile: https://bd.linkedin.com/in/abdullahmamoon