Project Planning, Scheduling & Control–Chapter 18: Improving Your Effectiveness


In this chapter of the book Project Planning, Scheduling & Control, Dr. James Lewis talks about becoming more effective, not just as a project manager, but as a human being.    That is one of the central messages of his book, frankly, which is that the core of being an effective project manager is being able to treat your project team members well as human beings.    The way to get more out of your team members is not to treat them as a human resource with the emphasis on the word “resource”, as in a commodity which they perceive as being a renewable resource.    You should treat them as a resource with the emphasis on the word “human.”    This requires you to learn how human beings are motivated, and also in the process what motivates you as a human being as well.

1.  PSYCHOLOGY OF ACHIEVEMENT

According to Brian Tracy in his book The Psychology of Achievement (Nightingale-Conant, 2010), the following five conditions must exist if you are to be successful:

a.  You must have peace of mind, or freedom from fear, anger, and guilt

b.  You must have good health and high energy

c.  You should have loving relationships with people

d.  Financial freedom

e.  A sense of fulfillment, or self-actualization

2.  LAWS THAT GOVERN OUR LIVES

There are several laws which govern your ability to perform in order to achieve success.

a.  Law of Control

An internal locus of control is having a sense that you control your destiny and the events in your life; this sense is called self-determination.     Conversely, if you have an external locus of control, then life will seem just like a series of random events, like Winston Churchill’s sardonic definition of history as being “simply one damned thing after another.”   

b.  Law of Belief

What we believe, we make real.  Once we hold a belief, we delete or distort information which may conflict with that belief.

c.  Law of Expectation

The beliefs we hold create in us expectations for how things will be in the world.   These expectations become self-fulfilling prophecies.   In the June 2012 edition of Scientific American, there was an article called “Armor Against Prejudice” about the phenomenon of “stereotype threat.”   This is where students about to take a test fear confirming derogatory stereotypes about one’s social group, and because of that preoccupation end up performing poorly on the test, thereby confirming the stereotype in a self-fulfilling prophecy.    The way to combat stereotype threat is for students, before taking the exam, to participate in essay-writing assignments, in which students reflect on what matters to them—boosting their positive self-image and making them resilient against internalizing any racially-based stereotypes.

3.  SELF-CONCEPT

Self-concept consists of three components:

  • One is your concept of your ideal self, or your concept of what you would like to be
  • Second is your self-image, or your image of yourself as you are actually like
  • Third is your self-esteem, or your feelings about yourself

To boost the self-esteem of you and others on your project team, you should plan small wins for yourself and others.  Begin at a level at which you and others on your project team can perform, and move up from there.

4.  PROGRAMMING THE MIND FOR SUCCESS

If you do not believe you can do something successfully, you will most likely not be successful at it.   But how to you believe you can something successfully, if you haven’t yet done it?   Here is a major secret to success:   behave as if the thing you want to achieve is already a fact.

One another way to achieve something is to emulate the behavior of those who have already achieved it and turning them into your role models.

When you get ready to do something, besides believing that you can do it, you should actively imagine or picture yourself in that situation.   Visualize yourself actually performing well, and you will greatly improve your chances of succeeding.    Will it absolutely guarantee success?   No.

However, it reminds of the quote from John F. Kennedy when he announced to the nation on April 12, 1961 that he was embarking on a space race with the Soviet Union to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade:  “For while we cannot guarantee that we shall one day be first, we can guarantee that any failure to make this effort will make us last.”

One of the elements of picturing yourself succeeding at a task if by creating affirmations or goals, positive statements that are in the present tense that affirm your achievement of that task.   Rather than saying, “I would like to see the project succeed,” which puts the event somewhere not even in the future, but in a hypothetical future, you should say, “The project is a success.”   You should create this affirmation at a time when you are relaxed.    In that state of relaxation, practice repeating your affirmations while picturing them in your mind.

NOTE:  You can use your own affirmations, or those of a skilled neuro-linguistic programmer such as the British hypnotist Glenn Harold.

Finally, one last word of caution about programming your mind for success:  you have to be willing to reduce the time you spend with people who have a negative outlook.

NOTE:  I found this out through painful experience when networking that, if I would ask for career advice from somebody and they gave me a lot of negative advice I would not ask that person again.    Since I am fluent in Japanese, I asked someone about the possibility of being a consultant to either a Japanese firm or to a firm that wanted to do business in Japan.    Someone told me I should ask a certain person who was a consultant in such a capacity.   That person was so passionately pessimistic about the possibility of me ever becoming a consultant that for a while, I was really down in the dumps.   However, I snapped out of it and then realized the truth:   the person was being pessimistic about my being a consultant not necessarily because of an objective evaluation of the merits of the idea, but because frankly he didn’t want the competition!

5.  CONCLUSION

Success can come to you only if you place people first and practice the Golden Rule, which is the moral foundation of all of the world’s great religions.   You may be the manager of a project team, but you need to treat your team members as if they are equals, at least on the basic level of humanity.

 

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