Archive for the ‘management advice’ Category:

Relationship Management – PM Tips

A key skill within project management is effective relationship management; I know some exceptional communicators and also know some who think they are exceptional communicators – unfortunately it is difficult to break through a hardened ego shell so this article is aimed at those who remain open minded to improving or honing their skill. Behaviours play a big part of relationship management and building – gaining respect doesn’t purely come from a shining track record of stellar delivery, it comes from a few factors:

 

  1. Respecting others – show interest in individuals and understand what their drivers are, listen to them and hold on to the information.
  2. Be genuine – we are all human, admit your mistakes and set your limits.
  3. Support others awareness of you, share interests and values.
  4. Demonstrate integrity – practice what you preach, roll your sleeves up and work with others.

handshake

Connect with others by listening, create a positive environment where you demonstrate a personal investment in the relationship, apply appropriate boundaries and gain a clear sense of what individuals are saying, build rapport and encourage others to listen in return.

When in a scenario you should look to apply the following:

 

  • Acknowledge what is being said, register what is happening.
  • Identify their intentions – what is it they hope to achieve.
  • Review – consider the conversation and either respond there or give a time when you will be able to provide a response.

 

Always ensure conversations have a healthy balance of input and response, listen, offer support or solutions, listen, confirm understanding, listen, reflect and summarise. Make observations; provide feedback and/or opinions, challenge views, offer relevant examples/stories and advice. Don’t talk over others – let them have their say, but keep in control of the discussion.

Creative writing in business

Creative writing does not need to be fictional – in fact a good story teller should be able to apply a style to factual events to make them an interesting read. Some readers actually have a greater buy-in to pieces of literature which are true and this often makes for a larger following. As the web has grown into huge proportions and businesses are reliant on websites, Facebook pages and blogs to market their products it has become necessary for copywriters and content writers to look at different approaches.

Having a creative background albeit visually, I found quite early on in my degree that I could apply my abilities to written form – at first it was a lecturer who read one of my journals and said he liked my humorous approach to writing and from there I was encouraged to write more. I did this throughout my degree but when I left University I went on to forge a career in project management and found that a straight forward factually based style was required especially as I was dealing with a number of teams based across Europe so language barriers became an issue. However I believe that a more creative approach to writing presentations and particularly for workshops, the style can be much more engaging than stuffy communication.

Being creativeIt was when I started working for a project management recruitment agency that I found a balance between writing factual pieces of work and being creative – I was quite  heavily involved in contributing to the company blog, newsletter, and I also wrote my job adverts for prospective candidates. I noticed the more inclusive a job advert was that I received a greater focussed set of applications for my jobs. By noting down key elements but also trying to give the reader a flavour of the organisation, I was starting to generate a great deal of interest. Talking through what they could receive in return for working at the organisation such as culture and making a mark, could easily make up for less competitive salaries.

The interest was not just from the prospective candidates but also other businesses who were particularly interested in my style and I was approached on countless occasions by head hunters. It is true to say that this style of writing has also proven very successful for my current business of professional CV writing – taking a bland piece of information and applying a creative slant to the document has struck a chord with my clients and employers. Bringing some personality to the CV and really painting a picture about the individual in regards to abilities, skills, management style and problem solving.

It just goes to show that you can apply your creative writing abilities to many aspects of work and making an extra effort can really help you get the message across… No more death by powerpoint!

What Makes Project Management Interesting – PM CV Tips

Project Management is all about variety and achievement – however it isn’t as simple as getting from A to B, anyone who has managed a project which has run smoothly will appreciate the hassle free approach but in reality this is a rarity. It is the challenges and blockers which really make for an interesting project and can really add value to your CV. These challenges can range from cultural issues, resistance to change and suppliers going under. Not to mention disparate teams and no buy-in from the senior management team – every PM professional I have spoken to has a portfolio of stories to share but it is rare to see any evidence of this on their CVs. Employers are usually aware of the major issues faced within the organisation when looking to bring in fresh talent and sharing these war stories can really add a new dimension to your application and set you apart from your peers. It isn’t about whinging, trust me, a lot of PM professionals feel sharing such detail would come across like this however written in a positive light on how you overcome significant challenges you are addressing some core areas such as management style, problem solving and organisation. Although the other perception is that it is all part of the job, to a point yes it is but it takes real skill to turn around a failing or troubled piece of work and as such why are you not singing your own praises? Focussing on particular aspects of PM such as the people element or process are key skills sought after by employers. Quantifying your skill set with some key achievements is a great way to showcase yourself in your CV and let’s face it; the job market is flooded so it is imperative you are marketing yourself in the document. Choosing a few achievements with some variety and also targeting specific examples for the roles you are applying for will certainly highlight you for the right reasons with employers and the all important gate keepers (recruiters/HR).

Winner

When noting your achievements you should look to set the scene with enough detail to be clear on the challenge then talk through what you did to rectify the issues, followed by the result / benefits. Keep to a short statement (the CV needs to be concise) and don’t be tempted to share more information than is necessary – it always gives the impression you struggle to get to the point with long winded statements; this is not a good impression to make as hiring managers will assume an hour long interview is likely to go on for 3 hours and project meetings will unnecessarily overrun. Remember it is not just the content that is being assessed, are you being clear, concise and demonstrating an understanding of what it is you do.

Organisational culture – why bother?

Organisations to date are still grappling with the complexities of defining a common organisational purpose. This becomes even more complicated during a business acquisition or merger, especially when there are major differences in organisational values and behaviours. This is also evident when large multi-national companies enter less mature markets and quickly discover that local
organisations have their own unique way of doing business in that particular business environment. Sometimes what is deemed ‘unacceptable’ in some markets is quite ‘acceptable’ somewhere else. This is a constant challenge facing all types of organisations globally. Culture will ultimately define a company’s belief system and expectations for the future, and will invariably influence success or failure in a highly competitive global marketplace.
As a result of greater focus on ‘cultural fit’ and all things related, Private Equity firms are now investing considerable time and resources to better understand a target company’s organisational dynamics before concluding any deal. This could be a major factor in realising value from the deal down the line. A company that has a defined philosophy for doing business will more likely have a
better strategic vision, which in turn makes it more appealing to investors, internal and external talent pools and customers alike. An organisation’s culture could either make it or break it over the long term. Thus, in attempting to create a high performance organisation, it becomes vital for senior leadership to define the culture required for success, or in the case of M&A’s, creating a vision for the future that will aim to bring the best of both organisational cultures together to deliver maximum value for all stakeholders. It is at this point that a company’s senior leadership team have an opportunity to etch themselves in corporate history and create the environment for making the company highly successful. Senior executives need to grasp this opportunity by ensuring they live
the values of the organisation and become effective role models for the rest of the organisation to follow. Doing this effectively at the top of the hierarchy instils confidence and trust in the layers below and has a mesmerising effect on motivating the wider workforce.
It is never an easy task to create or change cultural identity however with the added pressure of globalisation, the race for good talent and ever changing technological advancement, global organisations cannot afford not to invest in creating distinct cultural identities. Companies around the world are investing heavily on optimising business performance. Process and technology change alone will not make a difference unless there has been a carefully thought out people change strategy which is aligned to the strategic vision of the organisation. Many transformation efforts fail due to poor people change planning. On some large programmes it is often evident that ‘lip-service’ is paid to the impact of change on people and in many cases prevents the successful adoption of new ways of working. People need to be engaged early, to instil the values of trust and integrity. Many organisations leave it too late and lose immense credibility internally as well as externally as information starts to leak everywhere. A company serious about reputation and brand attractiveness will have as part of its organisational DNA, clear values around trust, transparency and commitment to treating people with due care and not just paying ‘lip-service’ to employee consultation. In conclusion, all aspects of transformational change require clear linkage to the corporate strategy of the organisation. This is often neglected and in many cases leads to the failure of the change
initiative, wasting valuable time, resources and energy. It is therefore vital for companies to establish the right type of culture, be it for the purposes of expanding into new emerging markets, M&A’s or a brand new start up looking to establish a foothold in the open market. A well-defined organisational culture provides the starting point for all stakeholders to feel part of something unique. This only encourages greater differentiation between competing organisations and its influence over products, services, quality and the ability to attract specific talent pools.

Vellendra Sannasy is an Organisational Change Professional with extensive experience in leading strategic and operational business change. Vellendra has worked with global organisations in the UK, US, Asia and South Africa, with a great appreciation for cultural
diversity and different ways of working. He is also the Founder of StratChange Consulting, which is a niche consultancy, providing strategic and operational guidance to C Suite Executives and Senior Management teams undergoing complex organisational change.