Category Archives: Managerial Skills

12 Essential Soft Skills for Project Managers

Generally speaking soft skills are the skills an individual has in relation to their Emotional Intelligence Quotient, their ‘EQ’. These cover a breadth of skills including communications, interpersonal skills and how an individual builds and maintains relationships with others. In a project environment getting others to work with you towards a common goal is a foundation stone to delivering a project.

The 12 essential behaviours for project managers are:
* Communication and Consultation
* Conflict and Crisis Management
* Flexibility and Creativity
* Leadership
* Learning and Development
* Negotiation
* Organisational Effectiveness
* Problem Solving and Decision Making
* Professionalism and Ethics
* Trustworthiness
* Self-control
* Teamwork

Communication and Consultation: Interacting with people about ideas, thoughts, facts, emotions, challenges, successes, etc. alongside hard facts such as project progress. Having the ability to convey complex ideas easily; clearly articulate what must be accomplished; keep the team moving toward a common goal; and to foster an environment that allows team members to communicate openly and honestly.

Conflict and Crisis Management: Listening and responding to the needs and views of all team members to anticipate any potential areas of conflict. The ability to diffuse situations where conflict has risen maintains a healthy project environment.

Flexibility and Creativity: Thinking in original and imaginative ways to widen the scope of problem solving when issues arise. Encourage project teams to find the best solution and outcomes without slavishly following generic delivery methods or solutions. Adapting a project’s different components, templates, tools, and techniques.

Leadership: Understanding the vision and direction of the project and aligning the team to work towards it. Skills include delegating, coaching, motivating and leading by example.

Learning and Development: Continual improvement of both your own skills and those of your team. Assessment of skills and capabilities, encouraging participation in learning activities and evaluating how the learning is applied in the project environment.

Negotiation: Analysis of information, decision making, establishing the desired outcome and developing a strategy for the negotiation alongside understanding the optimal outcome from several options. Gaining agreement through consensus of positions from both parties.

Organisational Effectiveness: Understanding and applying people management processes and policies. Understanding the corporate culture, the organisational dynamics, and the individuals that work within it lead to getting the best from your team.

Problem Solving and Decision-Making: Resolving issues and solving problems that are a normal part of every project.

Professionalism and ethics: Demonstrated through knowledge, skills and behaviour alongside appropriate conduct and moral principles for both the organisation’s and project’s environments.

Trustworthiness: Do what you say you’re going to do. Build trust with stakeholders involved and convey they can be trusted day-to-day to do what is right at the right time to keep the project successful and the Sponsor satisfied.

Self-control: Self-control and self-management to ensure day to day stresses are addressed and a work / life balance maintained.

Teamwork: Creating a team atmosphere where the team believes that ‘we are all in this together’ is a critical component to project success.

Source: EzineArticles

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Management by objectives (MBO)

Management by objectives (MBO) is a process of defining objectives within an organization so that management and employees agree to the objectives and understand what they need to do in the organization.

The term “management by objectives” was first popularized by Peter Drucker in his 1954 book ‘The Practice of Management’.

The principle behind Management by Objectives (MBO) is for employees to have a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities expected of them. They can then understand how their activities relate to the achievement of the organization’s goal. MBO also places importance on fulfilling the personal goals of each employee.

MBO managers focus on the result, not the activity. They delegate tasks by “negotiating a contract of goals” with their subordinates without dictating a detailed roadmap for implementation.

The MBO style is appropriate for knowledge-based enterprises when your staff is competent. It is appropriate in situations where you wish to build employees’ management and self-leadership sills and tap their creativity, tacit knowledge and initiative.

The MBO Strategy :

  1. All individuals within an organization are assigned a special set of objectives that they try to reach during a normal operating period. These objectives are mutually set and agreed upon by individuals and their managers.
  2. Performance reviews are conducted periodically to determine how close individuals are to attaining their objectives.
  3. Rewards are given to individuals on the basis of how close they come to reaching their goals.
The principle behind Management by Objectives (MBO)

The principle behind Management by Objectives (MBO)

Six MBO stages:

  1. Define corporate objectives at board level
  2. Analyze management tasks and devise formal job specifications which allocate responsibilities and decisions to individual managers
  3. Set performance standards
  4. Agree and set specific objectives
  5. Align individual targets with corporate objectives
  6. Establish a management information system to monitor achievements against objectives.

Some of the important features and advantages of MBO are:

  • Motivation – Involving employees in the whole process of goal setting and increasing employee empowerment. This increases employee job satisfaction and commitment.
  • Better communication and Coordination – Frequent reviews and interactions between superiors and subordinates helps to maintain harmonious relationships within the organization and also to solve many problems.
  • Clarity of goals
  • Subordinates tend to have a higher commitment to objectives they set for themselves than those imposed on them by another person.
  • Managers can ensure that objectives of the subordinates are linked to the organization’s objectives.

Objectives can be set in all domains of activities (production, marketing, services, sales, R&D, human resources, finance, information systems etc.).

Disadvantages

  •     The development of objectives can be time consuming, leaving both managers and employees less time in which to do their actual work.
  •     The elaborate written goals, careful communication of goals, and detailed performance evaluation required in an MBO program increase the volume of paperwork in an organization.

 

Test Your Personality !

Personality test — get to know your personality type in 41 Questions. The test is free of charge and requires no registration. It takes about five minutes to complete.

http://www.41q.com/

The sample results would show you something like this information below (Your result should be have different content, depend on what your personality test answered):

Be Confident with your Personality Plus

The Personality profiles:

  • Choleric (Koleris): This is the commander-type. Cholerics are dominant, strong, decisive, stubborn and even arrogant.
  • Melancholy (Melankolis): This is the mental-type. Their typical behaviour involves thinking, assessing, making lists, evaluating the positives and negatives, and general analysis of facts.
  • Sanguine (Sanguinis): This is the social-type. They enjoy fun, socialising, chatting, telling stories – and are fond of promising the world, because that’s the friendly thing to do.
  • Phlegmatic (Plegmatis): This is the flat-type. They are easy going, laid back, nonchalant, unexcitable and relaxed. Desiring a peaceful environment above all else.

Myers-Briggs

The Myers-Briggs scale is another well-known system for generalising personalities. Personality Plus is more about how people relate than how they are in their own right. Nevertheless, it is instructive to compare the different scales.

  •     Introvert/Extrovert: Sanguines love socialising, and Cholerics have the confidence to interact socially. A Melancholy can be more of an intellectual, and thus somewhat less social, and Phlegmatics just don’t mind either way.
  •     Sensing/Intuition: A Melancholy seeks facts to come to conclusions; a Sanguine may go with what feels right; while a Choleric’s decisions are based on their own opinion – without those opinions necessary being fact-driven, although they could of course be.
  •     Thinking/Feeling: This is about how people process the world around them, and the most obvious observations are that Melancholies like facts, whereas Sanguines have a leaning towards emotions.
  •     Judging/Perceiving: Whereas perceiving is all about simply making observations, judging involves allocating value to the observations (right/wrong, good/bad, etc.). Since a Melancholy is about “the right” way, and Cholerics are about “my way”, they tend to be more on the judgmental scale. Phlegmatics, being “easy way”, are more about perceiving.

The profiles of the Merrill-Wilson system overlap closely with the Personality Plus system:

  1.     Driver: Choleric
  2.     Analytical: Melancholy
  3.     Expressive: Sanguine
  4.     Amiable: Phlegmatic

Characteristics of Personality Categories

Driver:

  •         Objective-focused
  •         Know what they want and how to get there!
  •         Communicates quickly, gets to the point
  •         Sometimes tactless and brusque
  •         Can be an “ends justify the means” type of person
  •         Hardworking, high energy ?Does not shy away from conflict

Analytical:

  •     Highly detail oriented people
  •     Can have a difficult time making decisions without ALL the facts
  •     Make great accounts and engineers
  •     Tend to be highly critical people
  •     Can tend to be pessimistic in nature
  •     Very perceptive

Expressive:

  •     Natural salesmen or story-tellers
  •     Warm and enthusiastic
  •     Good motivators, communicators
  •     Can be competitive
  •     Can tend to exaggerate, leave out facts and details
  •     Sometimes would rather talk about things than do them!

Amiable:

  •     Kind-hearted people who avoid conflict
  •     Can blend into any situation well
  •     Can appear wishy-washy Has difficulty with firm decisions
  •     Often loves art, music and poetry Highly sensitive
  •     Can be quiet and soft-spoken

There are many different schools of thought extending from ancient times to the present that use four main groupings or categories of personalities. This is often called a “four-quadrant model”, and is used in many different psychological and employment contexts. A rough mapping of each major known school of thought is shown in the table below:

Table of Equivalents for the 4 Personality Types
Merrill-Reid Driver Expressive Amiable Analytical
D.E.S.A. Dominant Expressive Solid Analytical
Hippocrates Greek Terms (370 BC) Choleric Sanguine Phlegmatic Melancholy
Western Astrology Fire Air Water Earth
“What’s My Style?” (WMS) Direct Spirited Considerate Systematic
The P’s Powerful Popular Peaceful Perfect
The S’s Self-propelled Spirited Solid Systematic
The A’s Administrative Active Amiable Analytical
LEAD Test Leader Expressor Dependable Analyst
ARRAY (Jonathan Knaupp) Production Connection Status Quo Harmony
Biblical Characters Paul Peter Abraham Moses
Geier Dominance Influencing Competence Steadiness
DiSC(r) Dominance Influencing of Others Steadiness Cautiousness/ Compliance
McCarthy/4MAT System Common Sense Dynamic Innovative Analytic
Merrill / Wilson Driver Expressive Amiable Analytic
Plato (340 BC) Guardian Artisan Philosopher Scientist
Kretschner (1920) Melancholic Hypomanic Anesthetic Hyperasthetic
Sprangler (1930) Religious Aesthetic Theoretic Economic
From (1947) Hoarding Exploiting Receptive Marketing
Psycho-Geometrics (1978) Triangle Squiggle Circle Square/Rectangle
Type A or B Type B Type B Messy Type A Casual Type A Compulsive
Motivated
PSI Controller Promoter Supporter Analyst
Brokenleg Reclaiming Youth at Risk Mastery Achiever Power Belonging Attached Significance Generosity Altruistic Virtue Independence Autonomous Competence
Enneagram Adventurer Achiever Helper Romantic Peacemaker Observer Asserter Perfectionist
Animals Bear Monkey Dolphin Owl
True Colors(r) (1978) Green Orange Blue Gold
Children’s Literature Rabbit Tigger Pooh Eeyore
Charlie Brown Characters Lucy Snoopy Charlie Brown Linus
Jane Austen Novel Characters Emma Woodhouse Lydia Bennet Elizabeth Bennet Marianne Dashwood
Comics Jason Snoopy Cathy Ziggy
Who Moved My Cheese? Sniff Scurry Haw Hem
(by Spencer Johnson, M.D.)
The Celestine Prophecy Intimidator Poor Me Aloof Interrogator
(by James Redfield)

No one personality type outshines the other or is preferable to the other – but all complement each other in different ways. If you are choosing a team for a difficult task, it is a good idea to have representation for each on your team for a balanced approach to the task at hand.

Dealing With Difficult Customers, Angry Customers and Just Plain Rude Customers

When you have dealt with an angry customer, you may have asked yourself, “what does this person want from me?”. It is an important question with a number of answers. Knowing the answers will help you calm down an angry person and reduce hostile behavior directed at you. Learn what angry customers need and want. Customers want what they want. When we can’t give them what they ask for, there are some psychological needs that you can address. Fulfill these needs and you will reduce hostile behavior.

Dealing with abusive or difficult customers involves using a number of techniques, many of which are small, and easy to use. What you want to do is send a message that you are working with the customer, and not working against the customer. When the customer sees you as being on the same side, the customer is less likely to be aggressive or obnoxious, and tends to be more cooperative. You may find that replacing the words “you” and “I” with WE can give the impression you are on the same side as the client.

Here are the basic six-step process that can help you through trying times with difficult customers. The six steps are as follows:
1. Let the customer vent.
2. Avoid getting trapped in a negative filter.
3. Express empathy to the customer.
4. Begin active problem solving.
5. Mutually agree on the solution.
6. Follow up.

Letting the customer vent

When your customers are upset, they want two things: They want to express their feelings, and they want their problem solved. Some service providers view the customers’ venting as a waste of time because they want to move on and solve the problem. However, trying to resolve the situation without first listening to the customers’ feelings never works. Only after your customers have vented can they begin to hear what you have to say.

Nothing heats up customers with a problem faster than being told to calm down while they are venting. The best plan is to stay quiet and not make matters worse by interrupting the customer. Let the customers know that you are listening to them by doing these three things while they vent away:

  •     Nod your head frequently.
  •     Say uh-huh from time to time.
  •     Maintain eye contact.

Even though the customer’s anger may appear to be directed at you, remember that you are simply the person they are venting to and don’t take it personally.

Evading negative filters

The friction between you and a difficult customer is often worsened by how you interpret his or her behaviors. Take a moment and think of some of the names that you call your difficult customers — not to their face, but privately, under your breath. You may even want to jot a few of your favorites down in disappearing ink.

As soon as you pin one of these labels on a customer, it becomes a negative filter that dramatically changes how you see, speak, and listen to the other person. If left unchecked, negative filters can get out of control and spread like wildfire, creating a situation where positive communication with a customer is extremely difficult, if not impossible.

Inevitably, you’ll have negative filters about some of your customers, some of the time. The idea is to avoid getting stuck in these negative filters by switching to a service filter. You do so by asking yourself the question: “What does this customer need and how can I provide it?”

This question provides you with an alternative filter because as soon as you ask it, your focus changes. By changing where you aim your attention, you illuminate the issues that need to be addressed — rather than your personal feelings about the customer’s behavior.

Expressing empathy

If you give customers a chance to vent, they will eventually run out of steam; then you can begin to participate more actively in the conversation. Giving a brief and sincere expression of empathy works wonders to calm a difficult customer. By letting customers know that you understand why they are upset, you build a bridge of rapport between you and them.

Empathy is not sympathy. Sympathy is when you over-identify with the other person’s situation.

Empathic phrases are a simple and easy way of conveying that you understand your customer’s situation. The types of phrases that best express empathy to a customer include the following:

  •     I can see why you feel that way.
  •     I see what you mean.
  •     That must be very upsetting.
  •     I understand how frustrating this must be.
  •     I’m sorry about this.

Some service providers feel uncomfortable apologizing to the customer because they see it as an admission of guilt. Saying “I’m sorry” to a customer does not imply that you or your company did anything wrong; it simply conveys that you are genuinely sorry that the customer has had a bad experience. By using a genuinely warm and caring tone, you enhance the meaning and effectiveness of empathic phrases.
Actively problem solving

Begin active problem solving by asking questions that help clarify the cause of the customer’s problem. As you ask the customer questions, be sure to listen to everything she says and don’t jump to conclusions.

Mutually agreeing on the solution

After you gather all the facts, you need to work with your customer to come up with an acceptable resolution. If you haven’t already discovered what will make him happy, ask. You may, at this point, find it necessary to take a brief time-out from the customer so that you can do the behind-the-scenes work necessary to solve the problem. In this case, be sure that the customer knows exactly why you are asking him to wait and how long it will take for you to get back to him. Finally, when you both agree on how to resolve the problem, explain the steps that you will take to implement the solution.

Don’t promise what you can’t deliver. Be honest and realistic when telling the customer what you will do.

Following up

You can score big points on the service scoreboard by following up with your customers — by phone, e-mail, or letter — to check that the solution worked. If you contact the customer and find out that he or she is not satisfied with the solution, continue to look for another, more workable solution.

Effective follow-up also includes fixing the procedures that are causing the problem to begin with. By spending time solving internal service delivery problems, you prevent them from occurring in the future.

Perhaps most important is that don’t lose your self control. If you lose your self control you also lose control over the situation, and in the worst case scenario, the situation can escalate into verbal threats, or even personal violence. Physical violence from customers occurs when things get out of control, and the best way to protect yourself is not to lose control of your self.

Sources: Many References on internet..

What is Delegation and How to make it Effectively?

Delegation means we have someone to complete our tasks. We give him authority and responsibility to deal with the task. Our role lays in monitoring its progress and keeps its completion on track, according to the goal that we wish to achieve from the task.

Delegation will prevent the stress in you since it helps you deal with a lot of tasks in your limited time.You will have more time left but you can get more output.

Delegation is critical mainly if you are leader in an organization. As a leader your main task is take your organization to the goal. If you think about your own skill and ability to reach it then you will realize that the goal is too big to reach. But when you think about capability of each member then you will see the goal as a possible point to reach.

A few benefits that you can obtain from delegation :

  •     Train your subordinates to have more responsibility.
  •     Ensure that each member in organization get a proper workload.
  •     Grow a sense of belonging in each member in organization.
  •     For the leader, Delegation can maximize the ability to monitor and control the progress of its achievement process.

When you first start to delegate to someone, you may notice that he or she takes longer than you do to complete tasks. This is because you are an expert in the field and the person you have delegated to is still learning. Be patient: if you have chosen the right person to delegate to, and you are delegating correctly, you will find that he or she quickly becomes competent and reliable.

To delegate effectively, choose the right tasks to delegate, identify the right people to delegate to, and delegate in the right way. There’s a lot to this, but you’ll achieve so much more once you’re delegating effectively!

cartoon of Leadership Styles by Antonin Gaunand

cartoon of Leadership Styles by Antonin Gaunand

Leadership Styles

In 1939, a group of researchers led by psychologist Kurt Lewin set out to identify different styles of leadership. While further research has identified more specific types of leadership, the originally, 3 leadership styles were identified: autocratic, participative and laissez-faire.

Authoritarian Leadership (Autocratic)

Authoritarian leaders, also known as autocratic leaders, provide clear expectations for what needs to be done, when it should be done, and how it should be done. There is also a clear division between the leader and the followers. Authoritarian leaders make decisions independently with little or no input from the rest of the group.
Researchers found that decision-making was less creative under authoritarian leadership. Lewin also found that it is more difficult to move from an authoritarian style to a democratic style than vice versa. Abuse of this style is usually viewed as controlling, bossy, and dictatorial.

Authoritarian leadership is best applied to situations where there is little time for group decision-making or where the leader is the most knowledgeable member of the group.

Participative Leadership (Democratic)

Lewin’s study found that participative leadership, also known as democratic leadership, is generally the most effective leadership style. Democratic leaders offer guidance to group members, but they also participate in the group and allow input from other group members. In Lewin’s study, children in this group were less productive than the members of the authoritarian group, but their contributions were of a much higher quality.

Participative leaders encourage group members to participate, but retain the final say over the decision-making process. Group members feel engaged in the process and are more motivated and creative.
Delegative (Laissez-Faire) Leadership

Researchers found that children under delegative leadership, also known as laissez-fair leadership, were the least productive of all three groups. The children in this group also made more demands on the leader, showed little cooperation and were unable to work independently.

Delegative leaders offer little or no guidance to group members and leave decision-making up to group members. While this style can be effective in situations where group members are highly qualified in an area of expertise, it often leads to poorly defined roles and a lack of motivation.

A good leader uses all three styles, depending on what forces are involved between the followers, the leader, and the situation. Some examples include:

  •     Using an authoritarian style on a new employee who is just learning the job. The leader is competent and a good coach. The employee is motivated to learn a new skill. The situation is a new environment for the employee.
  •     Using a participative style with a team of workers who know their job. The leader knows the problem, but does not have all the information. The employees know their jobs and want to become part of the team.
  •     Using a delegative style with a worker who knows more about the job than you. You cannot do everything and the employee needs to take ownership of her job! In addition, this allows you to be at other places, doing other things.
  •     Using all three: Telling your employees that a procedure is not working correctly and a new one must be established (authoritarian). Asking for their ideas and input on creating a new procedure (participative). Delegating tasks in order to implement the new procedure (delegative).

Newer Leadership Styles

Today the three classic leadership styles seem too basic. They are still relevant, but leaders also need to know how to influence subordinates to exert extra effort or rally around a difficult mission. Such styles include being charismatic, transformational, visionary, transactional, offering hard evidence and leading by example.

Leadership is less about your needs, and more about the needs of the people and the organization you are leading. Leadership styles are not something to be tried on like so many suits, to see which fits. Rather, they should be adapted to the particular demands of the situation, the particular requirements of the people involved and the particular challenges facing the organization.

::I just wanna say many thanks to all respective authors who already written and share this helpfull articles..