Shifting Change: Insider Tips from Project Leaders

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Today's world is influenced by change. Project managers and their organizations need to embrace and sometimes drive changes to keep up with the pace in highly competitive environments. In this blog, experienced professionals share their experiences, tips and tools to manage and exploit changes and take advantage of them. The blog is complimentary to the webinar series of the Change Management Community Team and is managed by the same individuals.

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Luisa Cristini
Nic Jain
Vitaly Geyman
Ruth Pearce
Walter Vandervelde
Abílio Neto
Steve Salisbury
John ORourke

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Finding Strengths - In Others!

Over the last couple of months, I have had the pleasure of offering two webinars exploring the use of character strengths as project managers. In the second webinar we moved onto the topic of seeing strengths in others - the second three phases in the SBPM model – See, Acknowledge, Leverage.

We used a sample profile created from attendees’ responses to the VIA Assessment. This is the kind of thing I do with project managers and teams when I work with them. The strengths profile of a team is an indication of team culture.

Some questions to consider are:

  1. What does a team with this profile feel like to work in?
  2. What strengths are most prevalent and how do they affect communications?
  3. Can there be too much of a character strength or strengths in a team?
  4. If yes, what do you do about it?  Some options are
    1. Explore the profile with the team – awareness is a great first step.
    2. Explore how people feel about the top strengths and what strengths might be encouraged to create balance.
    3. Spot strengths with team members to get them used to seeing their own strengths and the strengths of others.

 

(c) ALLE LLC 2019

When talking about strengths spotting, a common question is:

How do I start?

The simple answer is “just start”. Attendees had a chance to spot strengths based on a real-life story of a woman’s experience as her husband has a heart attack. (Don’t worry! He recovered!) First, we practiced strengths-spotting and then reflected on a key point, which is that we are often the last people to be aware of our own strengths. During the exercise, attendees saw 15 or more strengths in the story, yet the story-teller only identified about five. This phenomenon, known as “strengths-blindness”, afflicts about 2/3 of us.

What we learn from this practice is:

  1. We don’t always know our own strengths
  2. It is helpful to have feedback from others
  3. It is impossible to get strengths spotting wrong!

When I told the storyteller our list, she did not say “no, you are all wrong, there are only five!” she was happy that all these strengths were present.

This is why I always say to people wondering how to start strengths-spotting – just do it! Get a list of the character strengths (Available from the handouts for the webinars here https://www.projectmanagement.com/deliverables/539329/Introduction-to-Strengths-Based-Project-Management---Seeing-the-Strengths-of-Others--Part-2---Supporting-Materials-Package) and when you are watching a movie, attending a meeting, watching your favorite sports person, visiting family – spot strengths. Circle the ones you notice. And as you get better at it, you will notice more and more.

But then what? Tell people what you see. Start with people you feel comfortable experimenting with and share what you saw – both the strength and the behavior so that your listener can do it again! Tell them why you value that. For example, “I really saw your judgment when you were asking questions and weighing all the information before making a decision. It really helped us to think through the problem and get to a good solution.” Or, “I really saw your teamwork when you stepped in to help the others get the work done this weekend. It shared the workload and made sure everyone gets at least a little time off.”

There are so many things we can with a framework of character strengths. Sometimes it can seem as though we are ignoring problems or people it is difficult to work with. When we are uncomfortable it often feels unnatural to start strengths-spotting. And yet, if you take a step back and look for the strengths in a person you find difficult, it opens up opportunities such as:

  1. Engaging them from a position of strength, acknowledging the strengths you see in them before pushing back on their position.
  2. Engage them from a position of strength by asking them to use a strength you see to support you.
  3. Seeing them in a strengths light changes you and your perspective and it may just make them less annoying!

There are two things I tell people about character strengths:

  1. We share the same strengths and express them uniquely.
  2. We all have some of even our lesser strengths. If self-regulation is low for you, you still have it! If you woke up this morning and thought “I don’t want to get up today” but you got up anyway, you used self-regulation!

Start strengths spotting today!

Have questions? Message me! 

Posted by Ruth Pearce on: June 24, 2019 11:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Finding Strengths - In You!

Over the last couple of months, I have had the pleasure of offering two webinars exploring the use of character strengths as project managers. In the first webinar, we focused on and developing your own strengths as a project manager. We were looking at the first three phases in the SBPM model – Understand, Cultivate, Model.

There is lots of great research on the benefits of starting from what is strong rather than what is wrong. For example, we know that positive emotions make us more open to ideas – including ideas about how we might learn and grow[1][2]. Adopting a learning mentality – also known as “growth mindset” has been shown to lead to great feats[3]. Of course, talents – innate abilities – help, but they don’t go anywhere if we don’t hone them and learn to apply them effectively[4].

It is important to differentiate between types of strengths –

  • Talents – innate abilities
  • Skills – learned strengths
  • Character Strengths – positive personality attributes.

A surprise to many people is that this last category of personality is one where we can change. For a long time, we believed personality is fixed once we get past a certain age. Recent research shows that through deliberate practice, we can change our personalities – character strengths work helps.[5]

What do our strengths tell us and what do we want to do with that knowledge?

The first step is to understand what your strengths profile looks like. 365 attendees from 29 countries have taken the VIA Character Strengths Assessment to find out. For the purpose of the discussion, we looked at the results of an analysis of over 250 project manager assessments.


Facts about PMs:

  1. Overall, our profile looks a lot like other peoples’! We rate honesty, fairness, kindness, and judgment high in our profiles.
  2. Some strengths that other people don’t rank very high show up higher for us:
    1. Perseverance
    2. Forgiveness
    3. Prudence
  3. Strengths have their dark side and when used inappropriately can cause problems.

  1. Two strengths show up consistently lower for PMs than for other people. These are Social Intelligence and Perspective.
  2. Despite the overall results, some individual PMs rank social intelligence and perspective high.

I explore two questions from attendees here:

  1. What do we do about our lower strengths of social intelligence and perspective?

It is tempting to think we need to build those strengths directly, and that is certainly an option. You can grow any strength through deliberate practice. Generally, more important though is to focus on mindful use of your own strengths. Think carefully about which strengths are helpful in a particular situation. Watch out for overuse of top strengths (see above) and underuse of your middle and lesser strengths. And don’t forget to partner up with people who are higher in strengths that compliment yours!

  1. Another question raised is, “Project managers tend to rank social intelligence lower than other people, but women are different from men – right?”

Actually, wrong! This question from attendee sent me back to my data for a closer look. Anecdotal evidence suggests that women tend to be higher in social and emotional intelligence and empathy. But the data we have on project managers says that women and men in this field rank about the same. There may be some individuals who rank social intelligence high, but for the most part, we are people who rank other strengths – such as prudence, forgiveness, and perseverance – higher.

 

Project managers tend to agree, Social Intelligence – the ability to read and adjust to others - is a strength that does not come easily. We can build it when we pay attention to our own strengths and behaviors and when we start to pay attention to the same in others. This is what strengths spotting is all about – a topic we cover in the second webinar.

Building a strength: I am working on the strength of self-regulation through developing a mindfulness practice among other things… what strength will you cultivate?

Here is a list for you to consider:

Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence, Bravery, Creativity, Curiosity, Fairness, Forgiveness, Gratitude, Honesty, Hope, Humility, Humor, Judgment, Kindness, Leadership, Love, Love of Learning, Perspective, Perseverance, Prudence, Self-Regulation, Social Intelligence, Spirituality, Teamwork, Zest.

Watch the first video here: https://www.projectmanagement.com/videos/533121/Introduction-to-Strengths-Based-Project-Management---Finding-Your-Strengths--Part-1-


[1] Fredrickson, Barbara. Positivity: Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive. Crown Publishers, 2009.

[2] Lyubomirsky, Sonja. The How of Happiness: a Practical Guide to Getting the Life You Want. Piatkus, 2013.

[3] Dweck, Carol S. Mindset: the New Psychology of Success. Ballantine, 2016.

[4] Syed, Matthew. Bounce: the Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice. HarperCollins, 2011.

[5] “Do Genes Influence Personality?” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/under-the-influence/201307/do-genes-influence-personality.

 

Posted by Ruth Pearce on: May 20, 2019 07:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)
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