Tag Archives: soft skills

Tea and a Bacon Sandwich: What Really Makes Projects Work

From time to time I receive an engaging email from someone sharing “Project Whisperer” experiences. This note from Jon Aikman rings so true, especially the part about sitting down “over tea and a bacon sandwich.” Jon graciously allowed the re-printing of his note. Enjoy! – Pam

Project management

What Really Works

“I have worked in managing building projects for more than 20 years and in the early days I was deeply interested in learning about different planning and scheduling techniques and other project management tools. My experience showed me that they were useless on their own and what got things moving smoothly was sitting down over tea and a bacon sandwich with a subcontractor listening to his issues about cash flow, lead time for deliveries, access to the site and how he struggles to pay his mortgage. Much more productive than shouting about how he is behind programme and needs to catch up by next week or he’s not being paid.

I also lived and worked in Indonesia for 6 years where the total difference in culture, economy, expectations and technology forced me to break my project management skills to basics and develop a PM approach that fitted the framework I was working in. Nothing to do with scheduling techniques or Gantt charts.

My approach to construction projects is that all buildings are imagined, designed and built by people for people to use and they only get built by everyone co-operating and working towards a common goal. Nothing has changed really since the pyramids were built except we can now build more complex structures, faster and more safely.

I recently became accredited as a mediator and I’m working on a business concept providing project team support – establishing project teams, providing ways to help the team to work smoothly together and helping building industry clients organise their internal decision making processes so that they can be very clear about what they need to achieve from a building projects. All the things I used to do as a project manager but hopefully being able to achieve better results by not being in that PM seat with its other burdens.”

==========================================================

Jon Aikman

Jon Aikman, Ashburnham Project Management

ABOUT JON: Jon Aikman has a degree in Civil Engineering and an MSc in Construction Management. From 1987 to 1994 he was with Balfour Beatty Construction learning how to manage construction projects, where he learned the power of building a rapport with project team members (He says that eating together is a great rapport builder and UK construction sites collapse when no tea is available!).

Jon  left the contracting business to join a construction consultancy in London for a short time before going to Indonesia in 1995. He was a project manager for a property developer in Jakarta until returning  to UK in 2001. Since then he has been self employed at Ashburnham Project Management . Earlier this year he trained as a mediator with the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

Advertisements

What is Emotional Intelligence?

We hear the term “Emotional Intelligence” a lot in workplaces. We get told that great leaders have it. Our performance reviews tell us to increase it. But what is it? Here’s my own definition:

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to consciously align your behaviors to a desired outcome.

It may sound simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. That’s because behaviors are influenced by emotions, and emotions are influenced by a variety of things like personal needs, values, past experience, and instinct. The raw input of our environment passes through these filters, and our brain delivers a verdict in the form of an interpretation. And that, in turn, produces a behavior.

How The Brain "Channels & Chooses"

Basically, it’s “Channel and Choose.” Your brain receives stimulus, channels it through your own personal filters, and then chooses an action.

One of the wondrous and amazing things about the human brain is that it can operate at a meta level of consciousness, above these routine brain processes. We can become aware of our own needs and values that trigger particular emotions. We can process those emotions and then evaluate potential responses. We can learn to recognize situations that create an “emotional-hijack” and produce ineffective (or even destructive) behaviors—and change that course.

Continue reading

Projects Are About People: Using Your Emotional Intelligence

Managing emotions is key to managing projects

You are a Project Manager. You may not realize it, and you may have some other title engraved on your business card, but believe me—you are. Envision a Saturday morning. Paint brush in hand, in-laws arriving tomorrow, and you angry at the realization that there’s not enough paint to finish the guest room. Your spouse is standing by, volunteering well-intentioned guidance “Don’t fall off that ladder!”

At this very moment, you are a Project Manager, trust me.
What’s more, I can predict the outcome of this project based in large part on the very next thing you do. It’s not whether you actually fall off that ladder, or whether you’re able to get more of the custom-colored paint. Sure, you’ll need to address those things… but the real predictor of how your day’s going to unfold is what you say next to your spouse:

(read the rest of my guest post at Tom’s Planner.com)

A Case of the Jitters…?

emotional intelligence anxiety

We All Get The Jitters Sometimes

I had an unusual experience a couple of days ago: I got nervous right before a client presentation. It was more than the typical adrenalin surge that happens right before I hit a stage, or stare into a live camera with a reporter on the other end. This was the real jitters.

The funny thing is that I was on the phone with a friend with whom I’m partnering on this proposal, as we waited for his client to come on the line.  So you’d think I’d be even more relaxed since my pal was there with me. He happens to be kicking-“a” in his own consulting practice, and I have a high degree of confidence in him– someone I’d trust to carry the entire conversation without me. To top that off, the workplace Emotional Intelligence program we’re presenting is so authentically from our cores that we don’t need scripted pitches. Not only do we know our stuff– we “are” our stuff. So what’s to be nervous about?

Continue reading