Preferences and Project Management

TPS is currently involved in a pan-European project, involving 6 countries, to train 100 people as coaches. It’s a blended learning project with 2 x 5 day face-to-face events in different countries, the development of an e-learning platform, bespoke web site and in depth research and project evaluation through a project team of 18 people.

The project was launched 9 months prior to the first face-to-face event and the managing partners have a ‘present’ time orientation.

In true ‘project management process’ and with a ‘future’ focus TPS have been requesting information, monthly updates etc and had received very little by the 8.5 month stage. In the last two weeks all the planning has accelerated, e mails have been flying, tempers have been frayed, repetitive demands have been made because previous information has not been read, and trust and respect between team members has evaporated. In the last two weeks the TPS team have given up evenings and week-ends to provide information that should have been requested months ago. Much of this is duplicated because templates were not thought through and agreed. The project needed approval by a university and 2 days before the first face-to-face event this had not been obtained by the managing partner, even though all 100 participants had booked flights, hotels, visas etc. Why am I sharing this?

This morning I settled to read one of the professional magazines and the first article was entitled “are you missing out on life by constantly looking forward”. The article is aimed at people whose focus tends too much towards the future and it suggests ways of slowing down and staying in the present by using mindfulness, yoga, tai chi, exercise, paying attention to pets and children and pausing to enjoy the moment. All great ideas and very much needed in the fast paced world in which we live.

And………. This is all contextual.

The crux of the matter is to understand who or what is impacted by your time preferences whether they be past, present or future or indeed a mix. To go back to our project, if the project management team are living in the present, over 100 people are impact through the lack of planning and communication. Leaving everything until the last minute does not allow for flexibility when problem issues arise. Team members need to understand roles and responsibilities, what is required and when – hence the use of Gantt charts in project management. They can then reduce misunderstandings, complete tasks in their own way, in the working style which suits them best. If, as in this case, detailed requirements are not shared until the last minute, those who need to do the work may be involved in other projects, paying attention to their children, exercise classes or simply smelling the roses. To disturb this will disturb their equilibrium. This causes stress and associated symptoms like migraines and IBS or worse, and the project runs the risk of failure or as a minimum will be of reduced quality.

Working professionally and in teams or partnerships means having the planning processes in place and having enough flexibility to cater for preferred working styles in order to gain a high quality end result. Being professional is about communication, about everyone understanding their role, responsibilities, tasks required and outcomes in the overall schema and about sharing regular updates. Only within that context can all of us have the luxury of enjoying the moment and using our time off to relax rather than playing catch-up. In an ideal world we would have choice, in reality we get pushed out of balance because team members do not take the time to understand themselves and second position each other.

Each person has a unique ‘cocktail’ of working preferences. If these are shared at the launch of every project team, and time is spent defining team needs, trust and respect will abound, confidence will grow, motivation will be high and the quality of the project outcomes will be hugely enhanced.

To get a detailed and personal report on working preferences and motivational needs for yourself and/or your team contact to discuss the IWAM questionnaire.

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