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How can you develop peoples' mindset for project management work?

Updated: Apr 4

What do we mean by a project-oriented 'mindset' and why is it so important? Check this out in our first article on the topic.

But let's move on from that: it certainly is a very important conversation at the senior leadership level, to enhance the organisation's performance and enable it to meet challenging timelines.

There's nothing like enthusiastic people. Staff members who will 'go the extra mile' and encourage others to do so. In our sector at least, there's no effective workaround for this. Great processes and systems can be really useful aids to our work. But so often we've either designed or bought these in (often at great expense) hoping they will make a difference to peoples' behaviours, and they haven't.

So can you tackle directly the development of a better mindset?

It's common for companies to address this challenge by seeking training for their project managers and team members. A good course definitely provides inspiration as well as tools and tips. But by itself it will probably not make sufficient change. Some senior management intervention is also needed.

This is where managers often make a key mistake. Something important to remember: If you're the boss, you can tell people what to do, but you can't tell people what to think, or what to feel. Managers often get this the wrong way around. Wanting to be really positive, and wishing to show trust in their expert people (neither of which are bad things on their own), they fail to clarify their expectations (which is a bad thing!)

Ideally, it goes like this: senior leaders should make the purpose very clear. What the projects are leading to, in terms of eventual stakeholders/customers' benefit; what it will mean for company growth, and so on. Then the expectations. These should be high level required actions, deliverables, behaviours. Things like timelines, responsibilities of various roles, reporting upwards, collaboration across the company, and so on. NOT their attitudes, or what people should be feeling. I can't stress this enough!

To seal the deal, senior leadership must provide the recognition when the things they want to happen, happen. There are many ways to do this, of course.

There's a vital space in between these two elements, where skills - the 'how' - come into question for the project level people. These are the training needs. This is a perfect way to zero in on them. But things don't need to happen quite in this order - this is where flexible, customised training comes into its own. Senior leaders can attend at least a part of it for a facilitated session, with some follow up later - and so on.

Sounds easy? It isn't! For example, initial messages about expectations of deliverables may be met with a storm of grumbles about resourcing, unfair policies, etc etc. But it's vital to address this - and we can help! We'd love to talk about your exact situation - and help you agree on a process that will help you get your people fully engaged and driving to meet your goals.

Get in touch to talk to us - and also check out some more information about our custom training.

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