In an earlier career as a wellness coach, I was introduced to motivational interviewing (MI) and it has helped me become a better project manager by teaching me how to ask better questions. MI is a counseling approach born out of the behavioral health field. It was created as a way to talk with people resisting change. For example, if someone was court ordered to seek counseling for drunk driving, the individual might meet with the counselor simply because that had too vs. honestly wanting to make a lifestyle change. For wellness coaching, I was trained in the practice of MI to support people told by their physician they needed to lose weight or stop smoking for example. It is very hard to make these kind of lifestyle changes – especially when not really wanting to or ready to change.
WHAT IS MI? MI is an evidence-based way of speaking with someone else that is genuine, caring, collaborative and person-centered. It’s a method of asking questions to help the other person think more deeply, and encourages them to move through the stages of change faster. Often this is done by helping the individual see their strengths and use them to move forward. For example, if a lawyer wanted to stop smoking, I might talk with them about the determination and discipline it took to go through law school. During the conversation we would agree law school wasn’t easy and they were faced with many challenges, but in the end they received their diploma. I would ask them to consider how they could use those same strengths and discipline in completing law school to approach tobacco cessation.
MI IN PROJECT MANAGEMENT: In project management, we often lead projects creating change for others – and often the change is unwanted, or the change is something people are not quite ready for. Using MI when speaking with others has been very helpful for me to help others accept and even embrace change or explore what can be done to move forward.
There are 5 basic rules of MI and they are:
An aspect of using MI when speaking with others is referred to as OARS standing for Open ended questions, Affirmation, Reflective listening and Summary reflections. OARS are important to achieving the best end result. Let’s explore these:
MI helps us all develop stronger connections with our stakeholders and leads us to greater project success. Would you like to learn more about MI? Do you think there would be value in a Webex presentation on MI?
Change is hard but so important for success. As project managers we are constant leaders for change for teams and companies around the globe. Project management in just the very name describes we are making change happen for others - and these days rapid change is expected. With rapid change comes complexity and stress and often leads to pulling others through change vs. having them create change beside us. Resistance to change means we deal with fear, ambiguity and frustration or even anger. Some companies support us with change management practices, but many do not. So, what are some things that can help us successfully lead change? Here are 5 things I do:
Please share some ideas below around how YOU successfully lead change. Your input will he
For some, talking about joy in your work might sound corny or might not seem important, but I believe it is something we should all consider. Here’s why:
Think about a highly functioning sports team – when they reach a goal or win, they express joy, right? They display camaraderie and often when there is a touchdown or other goal, they dance, hug, or at least share a high-five. There is a connection between them, a bond – and this shared joyful experience propels them to achieve even more.
As project managers when we bring joy to our teams and projects, we create camaraderie and connections too. Our projects are more successful, we create environments where questions are welcomed and challenges become something the team tackles and overcomes together. Creativity flourishes in these environments. As a team incorporating joy in our daily tasks, we appreciate our work more. Teams doing this build a foundation for success.
Sometimes it is hard to spread joy, but joy can change culture. An environment where there is joy also appreciates and fosters generosity. It is proven that safety and quality improve when there is joy in the workplace. Joyful staff appreciate the meaning in what they are doing. Teams thrive instead of just persevere in cultures where joy and generosity abound.
Maybe someone reading this blog is skeptical that joy can do these things, but after many years in the workforce I believe joy leads to excellence and enables teams and companies to be more resilient in the face of constant change. I'd way rather work in a place of joy, wouldn't you?
Let me know what you think about this and how you experience joy in your work!
To me gratitude is a feeling of appreciation and being thankful for something beyond myself.
IDEA#1 - POSITIVITY AND PROJECT MANAGEMENT: When we are grateful and show gratitude to others, we approach our work through a more positive lens. This lens helps us see and appreciate the good in others. Gratitude is a great mindset to cultivate because when we come from a place of positivity, good things are more likely to happen. Bringing gratitude to projects improves the overall “team spirit”. Many years ago I read a book called “The Carrot Principle” by Adrian Gostrick and Chester Elton. In the book, they described research indicating employees need to feel appreciated and valued – and when polled, employees stated they would rather receive appreciation for their work than receive higher pay. When employees feel appreciated, they try harder and performance improves. By simply showing genuine gratitude for the work your team is doing, it stands to reason project outcomes will improve and you will be seen as a more successful project manager. TAKE AWAY – Take time to share honest feedback with your team about what you are grateful for about them and their contributions.
IDEA #2 - A STRONGER PROJECT MANAGER: Living with a mindset of gratitude creates changes in our mind AND in our body. We physically and mentally become less stressed when focused on gratitude. Scientists say when living with a sense of gratitude we become stronger and more resilient. Wendy Berry Medes, a Social and Biological Psychologist from the Greater Good Science Center, has studied this for years – researching how gratitude impacts health and longevity. She can scientifically prove via lab work, sleep studies, etc. that gratitude has a positive impact on both health and aging. People with higher levels of gratitude even have healthier cells at the microscopic level. Studies show people cherishing gratitude are more likely to have stronger social connections, are less likely to be angry, sleep quality tends to improve and gratitude has been proven to lower both resting blood pressure and cholesterol levels! TAKE AWAY – Living with gratitude can make you a stronger project manager both physically and mentally.
IDEA #3 - SOCIAL CONNECTIONS: Having a sense of gratitude can improve your daily experiences at work with stakeholders, teams, vendors and others we come into contact with. Improved social connections can only positively impact our projects. Gratitude experts like Robert Emmons, Professor of Psychology at UC Davis, states gratitude has “the power to heal, energize and change lives”. Others share fear and anger cannot live in the presence of gratefulness – if that is the case, then gratitude can help us move teams through change management easier or face difficulties with more resilience. Why don’t we talk more about this when training project managers? It only makes sense that gratitude can improve our effectiveness as project managers. Grateful individuals are more forgiving, outgoing, helpful, generous and charitable. TAKE AWAY – Use the sense of gratitude in your social connections to improve your social connections!
CHALLENGE: So, this November – a month where Thanksgiving will be celebrated in many homes, would you consider joining me in a renewed focus on gratitude? No matter what our situation is, there are things and people around us we can be grateful for. I’d love to hear your thoughts on gratitude and your experience with gratitude in your important role as a project manager!
I've never had the privilege of attending a PMI Global Conference before - I'm not sure I knew what to expect.....but, it has been such a valuable experience for me. And......it's not over yet! Today was just Day 2 of 3, but let me share what I've experienced so far: Day 1 was impressive - with signage in the airport to greet me - electronic billboards on the street proclaiming the conference and a sea of professionals walking into the convention center wearing orange lanyards proudly displaying their PMI affiliation. I was part of an army. The exhibit hall had many interesting vendors and displays, the PMI booth offered anyone the chance to "Ask the Expert" and the new PMI logo was colorfully and imaginatively splashed all over the place. There were so many activities I had a hard time choosing which one to attend - from the Opening General Session and Keynote Speaker Adam Grant (a great way to kick off the event) to the networking reception it was all was engaging, inspiring and informative. Networking with so many people I interact with on this site has been such a highlight for me. I met so many really exceptional professionals. I won't lie, after Day 1 I went to bed very tired - but when the alarm rang in the morning I was ready to jump up and greet Day 2. Day 2 was just as rewarding as the previous day with more excellent presenters offering a variety of topics and more meaningful interactions with respected colleagues. There are so many opportunities to meet new people, share experiences and learn! This conference has been exactly what I needed - I am more excited than ever before to be a Project Management Professional. Tomorrow I'll share more about Day 3. Please consider attending events like this - I believe you will come away feeling as renewed and inspired as I feel today. Coming here to Philadelphia has been such a privilege for me! It is definitely worth it!