Agile Project Management Methodologies–Process 4.3 Emotional Intelligence

In the book “PMI-ACP Exam Prep PLUS Desk Reference”, John Stenbeck created an Agile PM Processes Grid, which has 87 Agile PM Processes divided up between the 5 process groups and 7 knowledge areas.

In this series of posts, I am covering the last of three processes in the block of processes that comprise the first process group “Initiate” and the fourth knowledge area, “Team Performance,” which corresponds roughly to the “Human Resources Management” knowledge area in traditional PM.

The last process in this block is process 4.3 Emotional Intelligence.

Elements of Emotional Intelligence

As opposed to the “hard” or “technical” skills one must master to be a project manager, the “soft” skills that deal with managing people rather than projects can be characterized as follows:

  • self-awareness
  • self-regulation (discipline)
  • motivation (both self-motivation and the ability to motivate others)
  • empathy
  • social skills (being able to project confidence, etc.)

Projecting these qualities to team members can’t help but rub off on most them.   However, team members must also treat each other in a way that supports appropriate responses and discourages appropriate responses.   For example, when brainstorming, having an “open mode” frame of mind is important, and belittling someone’s idea discourages that person from ever giving their opinion again.   So this is where ground rules can be helpful.

Ground Rules

Setting ground rules is important on a traditional project as well.   However, rather than you, as the project manager telling everybody what the ground rules are and expecting the team to obey them, in the more cooperative environment of an agile project, the team discuss and define them, and then these rules are posted in a prominent place where people will see them on a regular basis.   This has the affect of making everybody accountable and therefore self-discipline keeps everybody in check rather than some external threat of punishment or hope of a reward.

Two important ground rules are 1) attack problems, not people, and 2) the point of power is in the present, not what people did in the past.   If egos are taken off line, then conflict between alternatives becomes a healthy, and not a toxic, process.

The next post will discuss how the knowledge area of Risk Management is handled in the Initiate phase of an agile project.


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