Brief Description of People Management Skills

People competencies 23 through 34 are briefly described in the following sections.

People Competency 23: Appraising Performance—Evaluating Teams to Enhance Performance

How do you know if your team is performing well—as a team and not just as a group of individuals? In addition to constant project tracking to ensure the team is meeting milestones and delivering project artifacts, it is important to ask them how they think they are doing. When a team is in the "performing" stage, players should have settled into their appropriate roles. At that point, each team member can evaluate the other members. As the manager and collector of information, you will immediately be able to see the high and low performers and spot the supportive, team-spirited, goal-oriented staff.

Appraisal will be discussed in Chapters 29-32.

People Competency 24: Handling Intellectual Property—Understanding the Impact of Critical Issues

Every software project manager should understand the basic legal issues surrounding software development. This section discusses the fundamentals of business law relating to contracts, licenses, and intellectual property.

Intellectual property will be discussed in Chapter 32, "Legal Issues in Software."

People Competency 25: Effective Meetings—Planning and Running Excellent Meetings

Poor meeting management wastes more time than all other negative forces that occur on a project. It also contributes to ineffective project communications. For informal internal brainstorming sessions, formal project reviews, inspection logging meetings, or even one-on-one problem solving discussions, a few basic skills and items are needed. This integral skill is incredibly useful throughout the life of a project. If the kick-off meeting for a project is ineffective, an unfortunate tone is set for the remainder. Our case study demonstrates a well-run meeting as well as a kick-off fiasco.

Effective meetings will be discussed in Chapter 29. "Reporting and Communicating."

People Competency 26: Interaction and Communication—Dealing with Developers, Upper Management, and Other Teams

Part of communications management, the people management skill of interaction includes personal exchanges with individuals through any medium. It applies at any level, but is especially important in formal reporting and communications with sponsors, customers, and upper

management. A clear understanding of at least one good personality model (e.g., Myers-Briggs Type Indicator ) is required to effectively manage the interplay among all project players. If personalities are not recognized, understood, and handled effectively, serious personnel situations can arise, adding an unneeded risk to project success. Suboptimal interaction between team members due to personality interactions may have a detrimental effect on the outcome of the project. Fortunately, this is an area that has received a great deal of attention since the 1940s and many techniques exist for turning negative situations into positive ones for the project.

Just as a teaser, consider what happens to communications and interactions when a team is expanded from four to six people. The communication/interaction pathways expand from five to 16. What's the big deal? You, as the project manager, must make sure the pathways stay open (Figure 1-16).

Figure 1-16. The Complexity of Communication Networks

Figure 1-16. The Complexity of Communication Networks

People Competency 27: Leadership—Coaching Project Teams for Optimal Results

Leaders redirect life's emotional energies, for themselves and for others, stage revolutions, and develop other leaders. They coach and teach constantly; they are able to organize their ideas and thoughts into teachable points. Their values, such as honesty, integrity, and the sanctity of an agreement, are clearly articulated via their own behavior. Leaders walk the walk; they don't just talk the talk.

There is a world of difference between a manager and a leader. A leader has a vision that he or she can communicate to the team and can, in turn, feel assured that the team subscribes to it, believes in it, and is willing to work for it. A vision is a long-term strategic goal, which can be reached by a series of shorter-term tactical activities. A true leader is able to chart the map used by the team to navigate from "here" to the vision and can keep the team on the road with the rewards of tactical milestones. Some say the answer to "How do you recognize a leader?" is "Look around to see if he or she has followers." Having followers requires relationships, which are built on trust.

Leadership is discussed in Chapters 29-32.

People Competency 28: Managing Change—Being an Effective Change Agent

As we know, change is inevitable. "The only thing that is constant is change." In the software industry, we couldn't ignore it if we wanted to—technology is moving at a fast clip. At the same time, change is unpleasant for many people, high tech software developers included, because it takes us out of our comfort zone. From relatively small changes, like converting to a newer version of an operating system or moving offices, to a huge change like opening up a new product line, the project manager must be knowledgeable about how to navigate uncharted waters. Long projects are bound to see turnover in team members, which requires learning how to accept the loss of a member and learning how to get along with a new one.

As with all of the people management skills, a project manager can learn how to be an effective change agent. You may acquire the "tools" necessary to recognize when change is on the horizon, which team members will be the most affected and how, and how to energize and prepare the team for the future. Luckily for us, psychiatrists and psychologists have studied the effects of change for decades and we have a wealth of research from which to borrow. In the last few years, quite a few notables have addressed the role of change agent in the software industry.

People Competency 29: Negotiating Successfully—Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating Successfully

Negotiation is often the key to making the rest of the skills and techniques effective. It is universally applicable and absolutely necessary to most interactions, formal or informal. Conflict is inevitable when managing scarce resources against escalating requirements and increasing time pressure; the project manager must become the peacemaker. We will visit some correct and some not-so-good negotiation examples in the case studies.

Negotiation skills will be discussed in Chapter 29, "Reporting and Communicating."

People Competency 30: Planning Careers—Structuring Teams and Giving Career Guidance

"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." Is it possible to teach your staff how to learn to love work? Maybe. When team members have a stake in planning their place in the organization, they can look forward to a "life after the project." Uncertainty about the next assignment, especially near the closing phases of a project, is one of the most challenging aspects of people management. Project managers must be highly attuned to the fine art of individual staff member performance evaluation in order to determine what makes each person tick. Wthin reason and within organizational policy boundaries, every effort must be made to match individual skills and proclivities to project roles. Some organizational behaviorists believe that there is no such thing as a "personality problem" on a project team, but there are frequent instances of the wrong person in the wrong position. Whatever the origin, frustration with a career often presents itself in the form of anger or even project sabotage.

People Competency 31: Presenting Effectively—Using Effective Written and Oral Skills

Project managers are required to make presentations on the "state of the project" on multiple levels. Making presentations is an integral task, closely aligned with communications management. It is the critically important people management skill of presenting information concisely and effectively, to be received and understood correctly. The basic principles of graphic design, public speaking, business writing, and presenting numbers and statistics unambiguously are discussed. Both good and bad examples appear in the case example and in the case problem. For example, misused statistics can show a false picture of project progress, but may be hidden behind a confusing project presentation to management. When presentations go well, especially the all-important project status review meeting, then concise, communicative, and accurate graphics and text are almost always in play.

Presentation skills will be discussed in Chapter 29, "Reporting and Communicating.'

People Competency 32: Recruiting—Recruiting and Interviewing Successful Team Members

Interviewing potential recruits, a workable process for selecting team members, includes defining the skill set necessary for the task and may mean resume searching and phone screening. During the interview, the savvy PM will know how to effectively use open-ended questions and recognize trait versus experience data.

It has been said that the best way to find team members is through the "network." Sometimes, this works—specializations in the software industry form subcommunities such as database, state government business analysts, language experts, Internet-savvy programmers, and many other "cultures" from which talent may be drawn. Word gets around, especially within a geographic area, and those with good reputations are invited again and again to participate on projects within and outside of their current places of business. But much of the time, project managers must rely on advertising or search firms to find talent. Sometimes, the applicant files are high on quantity and low on quality. When interviewing those who appear to be good candidates, there is much more than technical skills to consider. An interviewer can use techniques such as active listening and behavioral interviewing to determine if the interviewee will fit in with other team members and uphold the group vision.

Recruiting and interviewing will be discussed in Chapter 6, "Selecting a Project Team."

People Competency 33: Selecting a Team—Choosing Highly Competent Teams

Staffing a project re-quires the ability to understand people in the context of a high performance team. Basic personality models are helpful, as is knowledge of recruiting and building such teams. As identifying and understanding personalities is an important aspect of selecting a team, models from psychology, especially Myers-Briggs Personality Type models, will be described. Others include the Kiersey Temperament Sorter (© 1997-2001 Dr. David W. Kiersey) and the Enneagram.

No matter how effective a team is, it must be right for the job at hand. A team of Java programmers may be able to develop the next killer app, but they might not comprise the right team to automate a day-care center (currently big business) if the team doesn't include a knowledgeable business analyst. Assuming the correct mix of talents can be determined, the manager must also be able to ascertain the competency of each team member and of the total team (the whole is not the sum of the parts). Dr. Bill Curtis tells us that productivity varies

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wildly between the "best" and "worst" programmers, depending on their experience, domain knowledge, and innate smarts.'—1 Recruiting and interviewing will be discussed in Chapter 6, "Selecting a Project Team."

People Competency 34: Teambuilding—Forming, Guiding, and Maintaining an Effective Team

Building the right team requires mixing personalities for better team performance. We will discuss the team development model in terms of the classic five stages: forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. There are successful techniques for turning individuals into a team that may be employed.

If all members of a team are highly compatible, they will look back on the project as enjoyable, but they may remember a "failure" in terms of project accomplishments. Just as the sand must be present in the oyster to create a pearl, a bit of dispute among team members often gives birth to original ideas. It is best if the team consists of introverts and extroverts, sensing and intuitive types, and thinkers and feelers. Constant and total agreement on issues is boring, unproductive, and inbred. Teams are effective when lively technical discussions can take place without harm to personal feelings.

There are several well-known software team organizations. We will discuss them and their strengths and weaknesses in Chapter 6, "Selecting a Project Team."

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Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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