Ever felt you’re working really hard and achieving an enormous amount, but somehow not getting the success you deserve? In a competitive world, where the achievement of results is highly valued, it is tempting to take it for granted that if you work hard, then success will follow. This article considers why this may not always be the case and looks at what we, as project and change managers, can do to bring the often divergent qualities of effort and success closer together.
There are plenty of guidelines on how to work effectively to produce results and successful projects, so why are we left in doubt as to how to make ourselves successful? It certainly doesn’t always follow that if all the initiatives we’re involved in are successful, then we are too! Traditionally, management approaches have focused strongly on systems and processes. But in today’s world, it’s increasingly recognised that a stronger focus on people skills is essential. Marketing professionals know that to communicate really well, you have to understand the language and perceptions of your target audience before you start. They talk about communication reflecting back the views and priorities of the intended audience, displaying an understanding of their perspective in order to gain trust.
As project and change professionals, we understand that communicating information is critical to success, but we sometimes fail to realise the extent to which we need to address the underlying emotions and motivations of all involved. To have our own success recognised, we first have to acknowledge the people whose opinion we value and who we wish to impress. Then we need to become more skilled at understanding their goals and what they would see as ‘success’. Does pursuing this seemingly personal agenda run counter to our organisational goals or enhance their chances?
To help explore this further, let’s have a look at three perspectives: NLP, Agile and Change Management.
NLP –the perspective of communication
Initially regarded as a psychology based theory that had no place in the pragmatic and process driven world of project management, NLP has been absorbed into mainstream learning for managers. The skills it offers for understanding and influencing people, and achieving real results, are those that have the power to transform what we deliver into recognised success.
Agile – the perspective of collaboration
For professionals looking for high ‘success’ ratings, Agile has a lot to offer. The framework of the Agile Project Management (AgilePM®) qualification focuses on the value of collaboration within a process of iterative development. This creates great flexibility so that we can adjust targets and expectations along the way.
Change Management – the perspective of commitment
Success is much more likely to result from an understanding of what motivates people and how to tap into that motivation to gain commitment in an environment of change. William Bridges’ distinction between change and transition is important – you can implement change, but you will only be successful if you focus on transition and consider the underlying emotions of those affected by the change, and their problems in adapting to the new way of things