- There are a number of tests and quizzes available online that you can use to find out what your strengths and weaknesses are as it relates to EI.
- Is your vocabulary extensive enough to use words that get your messages across more smoothly?
- Start each day with a short group meeting.
Project management is considered one of the most stressful job categories in the world. At the same time, planning and executing projects is essential for organization growth. Success in project management depends on how well a project manager can juggle multiple tasks at a time. But it not only requires acute technical skills and a knack for controlling several moving parts. It also leans on your ability to manage people effectively.
Not convinced? Without the requisite interpersonal skills, a project can quickly disintegrate into chaos, regardless of how well it is funded. Research shows that as much as $122 million is wasted for every $1 billion invested in projects in the United States. Moreover, two-thirds of all projects are completed later than planned and tend to go over budget. As a project manager, these facts are hardly encouraging. A great way to create better odds for yourself is by working on your emotional intelligence levels.
What is emotional intelligence?
A common definition for emotional intelligence (EI) is that it’s the ability to get in touch with your own emotions and develop an understanding of the emotions of other people. It is about getting to know how people think and feel, and framing your own responses accordingly.
Emotional intelligence is not something people are usually born with. It’s a people skill you can develop. When it comes on to people in leadership positions, having high emotional intelligence can have a huge effect on how successful they are in getting team members to produce their best work. With that said, how can you achieve high emotional intelligence as a project manager? The following nine tips can be of help.
1. Evaluate your EI
Many people are not aware of where they fall on the scale of emotional intelligence. Some people may even think they are already great at understanding their own emotions. But the only way to truly have an idea of what you need to improve on is to do a self-evaluation. There are a number of tests and quizzes available online that you can use to find out what your strengths and weaknesses are as it relates to EI. Based on the results, you will likely get feedback about what you need to work on.
2. Pay attention to how you communicate
When handling projects, how you communicate with team members, suppliers, and other stakeholders can have a major impact on deliverables. Take notes by being mindful of what you say and how people react every time you interact in the workplace. Are your choice of words properly transmitting the intended message? Could you have better explained a process or activity so that anyone can understand? Is your vocabulary extensive enough to use words that get your messages across more smoothly? Are you truly listening to the complaints and concerns of those involved in the projects you are working on? How much effort do you put into understanding the body language and behavioral cues of others?
3. Communicate often
It’s no surprise that communication makes the list twice. After all, good communication is essential in the planning and execution of any project. The fact that people can forget things and changes can arise on a whim while working on a project means there should be constant and regular communication to ensure everyone is on the same page at all times. You can do this by starting each day with a short group meeting. Use the time to go over the tasks set for the day, reiterate project goals and address any lingering concern. This will not only keep you aware of project progress but allow you to hear the challenges being faced by the team, so you can address them right away.
4. Identify stress factors
As mentioned, project management is known as one of the most stressful jobs in the world due to all the different components that are involved in executing a project. As such, it is easy for frustration and even anger to set in, which can affect team performance. For example, an angry rant can cause workers to feel unappreciated. Moreover, team members can feel stressed out in return, if your own reaction to stress involves dumping on them. Learning to monitor and manage your stress levels as a project manager will help you better respond in such circumstances. Take some time to think about the things at work that get under your skin, as well as those that could be stressful for employees. Once you have identified these stressors, it should be easier to figure out ways you can make life easier for yourself and others that could lead to a more harmonious and morale boosting work environment.
5. Write down your core values
What are your guiding principles as a project manager? A big part of high emotional intelligence is being more aware of your personal values. Once you have identified these, you can then know what aspects of your work life to prioritize, and what you consider to be deal breakers. Let team members know what you expect based on these values.
6. Truly get to know your team
As project managers, it is easy to get sucked into a numbers game by setting targets purely based on data. While it is good to focus on timely execution and honoring deadlines, it is also critical to treat people as humans rather than objects or numbers to be manipulated. Leaders who have high emotional intelligence are aware of this. They make it a duty to get to know each team member and allow them to share their concerns. Having this type of healthy work relationship with your employees will lead to them feeling more valued and empowered as far as their role in a project is concerned.
7. Practice more empathy
Empathy is undoubtedly one of the most important skills leaders need to have when dealing with different personalities, especially when working on projects. Successful project managers focus on improving their interpersonal skills, so they can respond with less judgement and be more willing to see things from the perspective of others. Being empathetic does not mean putting up with excuses and relaxing your values. However, they help you show more understanding of the various issues that can affect the performance of team members.
8. Be willing to take responsibility for your actions
Your role as project manager does not exempt you from making mistakes or misjudging outcomes. The important thing where this is concerned is to be upfront about it whenever you make a misstep. Avoid passing the buck or placing the blame elsewhere if things don’t pan out as you planned. If you were wrong, just say you were wrong. Apologize if an apology is warranted. Taking responsibility helps to build respect, which is also important for people to give of their best when working on projects.
9. Remember to celebrate success
Project management is all about meeting targets and achieving goals. Taking time to highlight each important milestone, as well as the contributions of team member in making it happen, can be a motivating factor to everyone on the team.
In a rapidly changing work environment, managing people well is more important than ever if organizational projects are to be executed successfully. Expanding your emotional intelligence will help you become a better project manager.