Managing Emotions - key to project success

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Posted by APM on 8th Jul 2011

On 28th June, at the Exeter University a good attendance (despite major works being undertaken at the University and including a number attending on the night) afforded an excellent opportunity for Ranjit Sidhu of ChangeQuest to provide a presentation on Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP).

Ranjit ensured an interactive experience both between audience and presenter, and also within the audience to gauge experiences and enable exercises to be undertaken.  This enabled some of the material being presented to come to life and result in further fruitful discussion. 

An initial capture of individuals perception of a good project manager indicated that most attributes could be considered soft skills; Ranjit furthered this by suggesting that it is important to be aware of emotions (ours, others and how to manage them).

Projects nominally involve getting things done through people, temporary teams and change however the McKinsey survey of 2006 found that, of projects that were successful, 44% felt anxious during change, 22% felt confused, 23% felt frustrated and 24% felt negative.  Therefore it is important to ensure emotions are managed effectively and to allow people to move through the emotional rollercoaster of Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Acceptance, Experimentation, Discovery and Integration; recognising that people may experience these feelings at different times/rates of transition and that those that have yet to experience a feeling should not be influenced by those that have already transitioned through a feeling.  Ranjit demonstrated this effectively with a clip from Apollo 13, an example of the move of Eurostar from Waterloo to St Pancras and referenced Managing Transitions by William Bridges.

Ranjit stated that managers are often aware of changes being managed before the wider staff population and should use this to pre-empt emotions being demonstrated. 

With regards to thought processes, our minds only consciously manage 7 +/-2 pieces of information at any one time.  Our thoughts are condensed when communicated and the recipients then filter communications into their own interpretation of the message being conveyed, hence the result is often that the message received is misaligned to the message conveyed. 

It was interesting to see that when communicating a large portion (55%) is based on body language, 38% in the tone of our voice and 7% in the actual words used; hence, there is often miscommunication in telephony or emails!

Finally Ranjit advised that ChangeQuest have recently mapped the APM Competences (soft skills) against Neuro Linguistic Programming and is available from herself at request

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