So what does it take to be a successful Project Manager or Project Team Member? Project Management is a succession of lessons which must be experienced and understood. The lessons are repeated until the lesson is learned. In Stephen Covey’s best-selling book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” he described the 7 habits. Below each description is what this might look like in relation to Project Management.
Habit 1 – Be proactive®
This is the ability to control your environment, rather than have it control you. Self determination, choice and the power to decide response to conditions and circumstances.
The Project Management Habit – This is the ability to control the project environment, rather than have it control you. There is always an element of choice and the power to decide your response to conditions and circumstances. The more control you can have on your project environment the better the outcome.
Habit 2 – Begin with the end in mind®
Covey calls this the habit of personal leadership – leading yourself to what you consider are your aims. By developing the habit of concentrating on relevant activities you will build a platform to avoid distractions and become more productive and successful.
The Project Management Habit – All projects have a purpose or aim. Identify that purpose from the outset. All projects must also have an objective (or series of objectives). Establish or determine what they are and ensure they are consistent with the purpose. Keep these upper most in your mind, and in the minds of all stakeholders. Concentrating on the purpose and objective and avoid distractions and diversions.
Habit 3 – Put first things first®
Covey calls this the habit of personal management. This is about organising and implementing activities in line with the aims established in Habit 2.
The Project Management Habit – This is about identifying, organising and implementing activities that will deliver the project objectives. This is about identifying and doing what is required, and, just as importantly, not doing things that are not required to deliver the purpose and objective.
Habit 4 – Think win-win®
Covey calls this the habit of interpersonal leadership, necessary because achievements are largely dependent on co-operative efforts with others. He says that win-win is based on the assumption that there is plenty for everyone, and that success follows a co-operative approach more naturally than the confrontation of win-or-lose.
The Project Management Habit – Project success is largely dependent on co-operative efforts with others. Success follows co-operation more naturally than confrontation. Thinking win-win benefits the current project and potentially future projects as well.
Habit 5 – Seek first to understand and then to be understood®
One of the great maxims of the modern age. This is Covey’s habit of communication, and it’s extremely powerful. Covey helps to explain this in his simple analogy ‘diagnose before you prescribe’. Simple and effective, and essential for developing and maintaining positive relationships in all aspects of life.
The Project Management Habit – Project Managers need to listen to, and understand stakeholder requirements. This is not the same as meeting all requirements. However, for Habit 4 to be effective (striving for win-win), an understanding of the other’s perspective is crucial.
Habit 6 – Synergize®
Covey says this is the habit of creative co-operation – the principle that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This challenges you to see the potential in the other person’s contribution.
The Project Management Habit – The principle here is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Identify opportunities to leverage off others’ contributions, skills, experiences and capabilities.
Habit 7 – Sharpen the saw®
This is the habit of self renewal, says Covey, and it necessarily surrounds all the other habits, enabling and encouraging them to happen and grow. Covey interprets the self into four parts: the spiritual, mental, physical and the social/emotional, which all need feeding and developing.
The Project Management Habit – The analogy here is one of a trades-person. The best outcome is achieved with sharp and well maintained tools. This refers not only to project tools and techniques, but also the skills and qualities of the Project Manager and project team members.
Look for ways to challenge yourself and your team. Identify opportunities for training, development, mentoring and coaching. Also consider the need for balance – there is always time to laugh and enjoy work. There is also always time to celebrate and recognise peoples’ contributions and success.