Project Management

What You Should Know About Interpersonal Skills in Project Management

Interpersonal skills are not naturally bestowed upon each and every individual. In fact, we need to develop and nurture those skills throughout our lifetimes. If you’re not quite up to speed on the nuances of working with people, there’s no need to fear. In an article for, Cynthia Snyder gives an excellent breakdown to smooth the social side of project management.

4 Pillars of the Interpersonal

  1. Leadership
  2. Training
  3. Team Building
  4. Motivation

The four skills of leadership, according to Snyder, are vision, trust, communication, and active listening. Vision is about knowing definitively what your objective is and how your team is part of reaching that objective. Create trust by fostering an environment where members feel empowered and are comfortable telling the truth. Customize your communication style to meet the specific needs of your project while cultivating your skills as an active listener. There’s more to active listening than you might think. For example, making eye contact, focusing on the person speaking, and having an open posture are non-verbal indicators of open communication.

A second important interpersonal skill involves training. This could involve classroom exercises, mentoring, online courses, coaching, or on-the-job training. Not the least important of these skills is team building:

Team building should be done early, and it should be done often. Some team building is formal, such as a retreat. Other team building is informal, such as going out for lunch, or starting a meeting by asking everyone present to share a little known fact about herself or telling something she is proud of. The intention is to get people comfortable working together effectively.   In typical For Dummies style, the Team Building process is broken down into the very digestible phases of; 1 Forming, 2 Storming, 3 Norming, 4 Performing and 5 Adjourning.

Motivation, the fourth and final major interpersonal skill, requires different approaches to influencing differently motivated people. If you’ve got time to explore, there are oodles of different motivation approaches to try–McGregor’s Theory, Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory, Maslow’s Hierarchy, etc. Whatever your individual and team needs, if you are mindful of these four pillars, you’re bound to generate better performance on your next project.

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