Introduction to interpersonal skills

Definition

Interpersonal skills are the means by which people relate to, and interact with, other people.

General

P3 sponsors, managers and team members need to understand and apply interpersonal skills. They must know the limits of their own abilities and ensure that they constantly reassess their strengths and weaknesses and strive for improvement throughout their careers.

Projects, programmes and portfolios are delivered by people. The dynamics, attitudes and relationships between those people are the key enablers to P3 success.

Applying interpersonal skills provides the opportunity to create high-performing teams, build individual effectiveness, develop confidence and drive success. Individuals who actively develop their personal skill set are able to manage their work more successfully.

The ability to communicate is fundamental to all interpersonal skills. A P3 manager uses communications skills to provide leadership to the team, while understanding the dynamics of team development and resolving conflict as it arises.

The P3 manager cannot micro-manage every aspect of the work and must delegate effectively. In a business environment, simple command and control is rarely effective. So the P3 manager must master negotiation and influencing skills to keep the management team and external stakeholders committed to the ultimate objective.

Consistency in the application of behaviour and skills engenders trust and respect. Those people who are acknowledged as having well-developed interpersonal skills are called upon repeatedly to provide advice, guidance, leadership and creativity to resolve challenges and achieve successful outcomes.

The fundamentals of interpersonal skills do not vary across the domains of project, programme and portfolio. However, the context and organisational structures do change and this leads to different challenges and different emphases on the application of the fundamental skills.

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