In previous volumes of the “Married with Children” series on communication tips and tricks to a positive Project Manager/Business Analysis relationship..
you’ve met (The Dating Game: PM/BA kickoff meeting), developed a trusting relationship or at the very least, learned about each other enough to work together toward a united goal (The Newlywed Game: PM/BA one-on-one). You’ve had a few kids, or rather a project team of sponsors, programmers, analysts, SMEs and so on. You’re having regular family meetings (The Happy Family: PM BA Communication Do’s) where you’re showing your family or project team stakeholders that you are a unified team working toward project success. But what happens when the unified team isn’t so unified?
We’re finishing off this series with The Broken Home, or those major relationship “don’ts” that could damage your PM/BA team as individuals, impact project delivery dates, project value, stakeholder security, or in the worse cases I’ve seen, even lose you a job. That’s right – DIVORCE!
1. Interruptions, Assumptions and Bad Timing
Now this one is all me! I have the sort of mind that’s always thinking 20 steps ahead. I often jump in and finish sentences for my PM or stop them mid thought because I think I know what they’re going to say and I think they’re going down the wrong path. If I’m being completely honest, I do this with my real spouse too! I’ve actually seen this to be a pretty common PM and BA affliction that can lead to lack of trust and a degradation of team unity. Before butting in with assumptions and interruptions during team meetings, mentally place your idea on the Importance and Urgency Matrix shown below.
Important and Urgent / Urgent and Not Important, you have a green light to forge ahead with your comment, theory or statement. If your thought lands on the gray side of the matrix, save your idea for later when you’re not in a group situation.
Over-heading is an instantaneous trust-killer for a PM/BA relationship. You wouldn’t go call your spouse’s mommy because they did something you didn’t like, would you? No, you typically discuss issues with one another until you can come to a resolution or compromise. The same rules apply to going to your PM or BA’s supervisor, manager or other authority before giving them the benefit of discussion. Unless it’s a question of ethics or something similarly extreme, you should address your issues with each other first. Crucial conversations are a necessary evil of any healthy relationship, and trust is critical in the PM/BA relationship. Break it unnecessarily and it’s very hard if not impossible to get back.
3. Missing the Clues
This doesn’t just mean that you may miss some verbal or physical indications that someone needs you to jump in, shut up, or make a note of something for later, but it’s also about looking for holes in the boat before it sinks. In Volume 1: The Dating Game, we discussed the need to define your handshake agreements in your PM/BA kickoff meeting. Remember to employ them. Maybe even define expressive clues to each other early so that you don’t leave anything to guesswork. Twisting your earring, crossing your arms left over right, loosening your tie, placing your pen above your tablet instead of beside it are all examples of non-verbal cues you can provide each other during tense situations to keep you on the same page or to indicate that you need to talk later. Stay away from verbal statements such as “let’s take that off-line” unless absolutely necessary. Statements such as those can shut a person down to more than just that topic, but all other topics in your meeting.
4. Talking in Circles
Ever have this argument with your spouse?
“You’re always late.” “Well, you yell too much!” “Then be ready next time!” “I was this way when you met me!” “Yeah, well I hated it then too!”
Talking in circles means to talk a lot, but not achieving anything, or to come back to the point you started from without being any further along than when you started. Nothing gets resolved by talking in circles. Avoid the blame game and look for the root cause and perspective in these types of conversations. If you find yourself stuck in a circle argument, employ the Rogerian Model below and in most instances you can steer the discussion toward a productive and compromising end.
For our spousal argument above, maybe one spouse is always late because he/she has to have their hair just right to feel socially accepted and the other likes to be on time for the very same reason. A compromise would be to plan an extra 30 minutes in for “hair time”. Both parties benefit from the compromise while still meeting their individual needs.
5. Arguing with an Audience
Jane Blaustone stated, “The best security blanket a child can have is parents who respect each other.” Do your PM/BA relationship and your project team a favor, and never argue in front of your team. Normal project healthy debate is okay, but major heated disagreements on direction, process, etc. is not. It’s all about respect.
So go out there and give your project team the best security blanket you can… a strong and cohesive PM/BA team at the helm!
For additional information on many of the topics in the four-part series check out these links:
3. Larson, Elizabeth. “Bad Business Analysts, Project Managers, and Relationships.” BA Times – Business Analyst Resources, www.batimes.com/elizabeth-larson/bad-business-analysts-project-managers-and-relationships.html.
4. PennyPullen. “What Are the Root Causes of Business Analyst and Project Manager Tensions?” PM Blog, 22 Jan. 2015, www.esi-intl.co.uk/blogs/pmoperspectives/index.php/what-are-the-root-causes-of-business-analyst-and-project-manager-tensions/.
5. “The Project Manager-Business Analyst Relationship: When Roles Collide.” TechWell, www.techwell.com/techwell-insights/2014/11/project-manager-business-analyst-relationship-when-roles-collide.
6. “Arguing in Circles”. http://www.sanluisobispo.com/living/family/linda-lewis-griffith/article39441612.html
7. “ENG 102 – Intro to Rogerian (Compromise-Based) Argument.” YouTube, YouTube, 23 Feb. 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhB75sFvG8w.
8. Nelson, Rochelle. “9 Ways To Stop Fighting In Front Of Your Kids.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 25 Sept. 2014, www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/25/how-to-stop-fighting-in-front-of-kids_n_5879630.html.