The Facts and Only The Facts

Lady Justice in Frankfurt am MainWhen managing project team members, the objective project manager focuses on the behaviours of his team. Attitudes, state of mind, and motives are explanations we give for behaviours and we make many mistakes interpreting people’s actions. Telling someone they are lazy, that they are acting angrily, or, that they are selfish, are interpretations of behaviour. Attributing intent to actions makes the observation subjective, probably inaccurate, and more likely to be disputed.

Behaviours are observable. Behaviours are what we say, how we say them, our facial expressions, our body language and the results of our work. Observing that someone was late on three out of four tasks, that they raised their voice when answering a question, or that they asked for help in their task but declined to help another colleague with theirs, are behaviours. Talking about the actions you see or hear makes the observation objective.

Related:
Fundamental attribution error — (wikipedia.org)

Eleven Behaviors of a Good Project Manager

Good MannersBrad Egeland gave his advice on how to react to feedback in two posts on the Project Management Tips site. A good project manager applies the suggestions in all situations.

From Reacting to Negative Feedback on Our Projects:

  1. Be truthful — A good reputation is essential for a project manager. Getting caught in a lie will give you a reputation for dishonesty along with a questioning of the integrity of your work.
  2. Deliver on your promises — Set expectations that you can deliver on. Creating unrealistic expectation means having to discuss unmet expectations later.
  3. Ask for clarification and confirm your understanding — Make sure you understand the other’s objectives. Efficiently achieving the objectives requires clarifying the objectives.
  4. Admit it — Admit mistakes.  Admit shortcomings.  Admit ignorance. Apologize and learn from the experience.
  5. Remain calm — Control your emotions and act rationally. Be a professional.
  6. Always accept the blame — As the project manager you are at least partly responsible for everything on the project. Accept the blame and work on resolving the problem.
  7. Correct misperceptions with tact — Telling someone they’re wrong will embarrass, and/or anger, and/or strengthen their resolve, and/or…
  8. Follow-up quickly — Identify the next actions, set due dates, monitor and regularly report on progress.

From Reacting to Positive Feedback on Our Projects:

  1. Listen carefully — Listen what they are saying and pick-up on what they are leaving unsaid.
  2. Share the praise — Team members will give unequal efforts. It’s still the whole team that delivered the project.
  3. Acknowledge accomplishments — To share the praise for a job done well, you have to recognize the achievement.