As a Certified Associate in Project Management having worked in a PMO environment, I know the importance of planning and executing projects.
I used to think that interpersonall skills meant being nice to others. Little did I know how much more this meant.
You can apply some of the information here to make your life project a success. Your life project is your plan to reach an objective that would bring more harmony into your life. It could be finding a new job, improving your relationship with someone close to you, moving to a different place of residence, reworking your budget, learning a new skill, or starting a new hobby.
Interpersonal skills are called soft skills. They are behavioral abilities that include communication, emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, negotiation, influence, team building, and group facilitation skills.
A behavioral ability is your ability in relation to a situation you may come up against.
Behavioral abilities are qualities such as knowledge, range of skills and abilities, teamwork, leadership skills, and technical know-how that encourage the development of individuals in the organisation so they can play a central role in the organization.
Having soft skills is required to develop a project team. Emotional intelligence is a vital skill to have. It helps to moderate tension and increase cooperation by spotting, evaluating, and directing the thoughts and emotions of team members, predicting their actions, acknowledging their worries, and helping solve their work issues.
Interpersonal or Soft Skills
According to the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), soft skills in project management are leadership, team building, motivating, communicating, influencing, making decisions, political and cultural awareness, negotiating, building trust, managing conflict, and coaching.
Leadership is your ability to motivate a group of people to act so they can achieve a common goal. Successful leaders can make things happen through others. It indicates having the respect and trust of people. This is especially important when you launch a project and need to communicate your vision and inspire your project members to succeed.
2) Team Building
This is how you guide and motivate a group of people to work together well as a team, with activities and events intended to increase motivation and encourage cooperation. Capable leadership skills result in successful teamwork.
Team building includes:
- Tasks such as establishing goals and defining roles, responsibilities and procedures.
- Processes such as communicating, managing conflicts, and motivating.
This is an ongoing process. Change is inevitable. You must show a continued or renewed team-building effort to successfully manage changes in the project environment. Consequences of team building include mutual respect, superb information sharing, and improved decision making.
Motivation is the reason someone acts or behaves in a certain way. Project teams include people who have diverse background, expectations and individual objectives. The success of your project depends on the commitment of your team and this is directly linked to their level of motivation.
It means you create an environment to meet the objectives of the project as long as you provide satisfaction to what people value most. What they value most may mean job satisfaction, stimulating work, acceptable compensation, safety and security on the job, and other rewards and recognition your team thinks are important.
Communication plays a vital role in the success of a project. When you have an open communication, you will get collaboration, successful achievements, improved relationships and mutual respect.
Open communication means every team member has access to and share communication resources.
To communicate effectively, you must take into account the communication styles of other people, the cultural standards, relationships, personalities, and the context of the situation.
You have to identify different communication channels, understand what information your team needs and when, and which soft skills will help you communicate effectively with all the project stakeholders.
Listening is an important soft skill to have. Listening techniques will give you insight into problem areas to negotiate, make decisions and resolve problems.
Influencing is your approach to get others to cooperate to achieve common goals. For example,
- Lead by example.
- Follow through on your commitments.
- Explain how a decision will be made.
- Adjust your interactive style to your audience.
- Think of long-term collaboration.
6) Making Decisions
Decision-making includes command, consult, get consensus and flip a coin. Time constraints, trust, quality, and acceptance influence how you make a decision.
This is how you approach decision-making:
- Define the problem.
- Generate solutions.
- Define the evaluation criteria to select the best solution.
- Plan the action to implement the solution.
- Do a post-implementation review. Evaluate how well the project goals were accomplished.
7) Political and Cultural Awareness
Organizational politics or ‘office politics’ are unavoidable in most environments. This is due to different standards, background, and anticipations of the people involved with a project. If you ignore project politics or make an unsuitable use of power, you will struggle in handling your project. You have to balance the diverse views of all interested parties.
If your team is in a global environment, you must get to know the various team members and use appropriate communication planning as part of the overall project plan.
Negotiating is how you consult parties of shared or opposed interests to reach an agreement. When done well, it increases the likelihood that your project will succeed.
What would help you succeed in negotiating?
- Analyze the situation.
- Discern wants from needs.
- Focus on interest and issues instead of positions.
- Be realistic in your demands.
- Create win-win situations where both parties feel they have gained something. You want to avoid creating a feeling of injustice or inequality.
- Listen attentively and communicate clearly.
9) Trust Building
Building trust is essential in leading your team. It is about cooperating, sharing information, and resolving problems successfully. If you do not build trust, you will find that relationships deteriorate, people disengage, and collaboration becomes more difficult if not impossible.
When people disengage, they are physically present but their heart is no longer in it. They just go through the motions.
Build trust by:
- Having an open and direct communication to resolve problems.
- Keeping all your stakeholders informed as necessary.
- Having a clear idea of the situations that affect your team.
- Being direct and clear about what you need or expect.
- Sharing information even if it is not 100% accurate.
- Addressing issues or concerns in a straightforward way.
- Showing a genuine concern for others.
- Avoiding doing something that could jeopardize the interest of others.
10) Managing Conflict
How you manage conflict could help the team reach a better decision. Some examples of conflict are making requests that are not related to the project, competing for resources, or not communicating clearly and on time.
Managing conflict in a project environment means you build the trust necessary for all involved parties to be open and honest, and engage in finding a positive resolution to the situation that has created the conflict. If you cannot create a collaborative approach, be assertive, accommodate, avoid, or compromise.
Coaching means advancing your team’s abilities and chances of success. Coaching helps people become aware of their potential by improving their existing skills, or building new skills; all of this to ensure the project is a success.
Coaching takes place when a team member is not performing up to expectations. You motivate. As your team develop their skills, abilities and confidence, they accept to take on challenging or more demanding tasks.
It is different from counseling that focuses on addressing situations where team members refuse to do something. Coach when someone cannot do something; counsel when someone does not want to do something.
It is different from training or mentoring. Training is about giving knowledge, while coaching is about enhancing knowledge or skills development. They are both different from mentoring, which is more long-term.
Interpersonal skills are important for small or large projects. They are needed in any situation where you have to interact with other people.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.