Author: Noah Rue

PMTimes_Aug10_2022

Fostering a Company Culture for Project Success

As a business leader, it’s important to recognize that improving the success rate of your projects means investing in the holistic strength of your company. One of the areas you should be focusing on in this regard is fostering a positive company culture.

Your company culture refers to how all members and aspects of your organization interact with one another. It usually involves a shared set of values and ethics, alongside customs and behaviors representing what is most important to everyone involved. A strong culture can directly impact your projects on a variety of levels.

In addition to explaining the importance of company culture, we’re going to dive deeper into how you can use this powerful force to help your projects succeed.

Why Is Culture Important?

So, how does culture impact the success of projects? Firstly, it’s a matter of engagement. When everyone feels connected and supported by shared values, they tend to be more motivated toward achieving goals based on those values. As such, there’s often a positive impact on key things that influence project success, such as productivity, innovation, and collaboration.

This is why it can be so important to provide your workers with clarity on how important and consistent the ethical, social, and environmental values are to your organization. They can carry these through to every task they perform within the project. The result is stronger projects in which all members are dedicated to achieving holistically positive outcomes.

Prioritize Communication

One of the most important elements you must have in place concerning company culture is effective communication. Without solid communication practices in place, your business and projects are likely to suffer from missteps and misunderstandings. This isn’t just an issue when it comes to the practical running of the project. It can also lead to conflict within teams, which in turn disrupts productivity, progress, and motivation.

Therefore, it’s vital to incorporate the proper tools and protocols you need to make communication a central part of company culture. It’s important to ensure your staff has access to the communicative tools that can support collaborations. However, this doesn’t just mean providing all possible communications hardware and software. Too many tools can lead to chaos just as quickly as too few.

Rather, ensure you adopt communication platforms most appropriate to your organization’s needs. This could be setting up video conferencing and remote messaging platforms for projects taking place across multiple sites. Virtual whiteboards and cloud platforms can also keep all remote and cross-departmental team members communicating meaningfully during ideation processes.

Alongside the tools, part of incorporating communication into your culture is ensuring your staff understands both its importance and the techniques they can use to bolster it. Provide regular training on not only the technical application of communication tools but also soft communication skills. This should include active listening and conflict resolution discussion methods.

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Support Inclusion

There’s no doubt that diverse contributors help your projects thrive. The varied perspectives, approaches, and life experiences of staff from different backgrounds can also help to drive innovation and financial success. Nevertheless, diversity in itself isn’t enough. You need to build a culture that actively ensures all team members feel comfortable, validated, and respected. This means you need to commit to the presence of diverse staff and building a culture of inclusion.

One of the most important aspects of this is ensuring your company maintains strict protocols to reduce discrimination in the workplace. Everyone needs to understand not just the more obvious acts of prejudice or discrimination, but also microaggressions in the workplace. Microaggressions can be intentional or unintentional behavioral, environmental, or verbal elements that create a toxic environment for those on the receiving end. Your culture must be one in which there are clear efforts to ensure everybody is educated on these issues and staff feel safe to speak about any problems – whether microaggressions or acts of outright hostility — they’ve experienced.

As with any element of company protocol relating to staff from marginalized backgrounds, your efforts here should be guided by representative individuals. Wherever possible, utilize consultants with relevant experiences in this area. Invite your staff to be part of the improvement process, though you shouldn’t treat them as a convenient diversity resource (a microaggression in and of itself). Essentially, try to boost the voices of those who are underrepresented, as this helps to show your actions are authentic, which in turn can support engagement with projects.

Consider your Environment

The design of the office space itself is a key influencer of the company culture. For instance, it’s difficult to maintain a culture predicated on openness and collaboration if all your team members are isolated within cubicles. The choices you make about office layout and decoration can impact productivity on projects, too. Having a combination of communal areas and individual seating gives your staff the flexibility to adopt working habits best suited to their changing needs. Even providing desks with plenty of storage solutions can support a culture that prioritizes solid organizational principles.

You should also pay attention to elements of the environment that reduce stress and improve well-being. After all, this is essential to building a culture of care for workers while also making certain they can perform at their best during projects. If your company is based in a city, make sure there is sufficient soundproofing. Place beneficial indoor plants around your workplace, as they can help improve air quality, worker health, and productivity.

Conclusion

Your projects are impacted by several aspects of your business operations, particularly the strength of your company culture. As such, it’s important to make improvements to foster a culture that directly influences your projects in positive ways. This should include committing to bolstering communication, meaningful inclusion, and establishing a supportive environment. As with any important change in business, this requires an investment of time, energy, and capital. But they can also empower your staff to usher your projects effectively toward success.

PMTimes_July27_2022

Cultivating Confident Decision Making as a Project Manager

An indecisive project manager is the last thing a company needs. Decision making is critical to project success. If you can’t make decisions with conviction, your team and the success of your projects are in serious jeopardy.

Project managers need swift and confident decision-making skills to do their best work. But how do you cultivate these skills if they’re lacking?

 

Work on Your Relationship With Yourself

How well we do at work depends greatly on our relationship with ourselves. It’s difficult to think your work is worthy when you don’t believe in yourself. In this case, when you aren’t confident in yourself, it’s nearly impossible to make project management decisions you stand behind.

To be the best project manager you can be and be decisive in your role, you must work on your relationship with yourself. Don’t neglect the importance of feeling good inside.

Spend more time doing things that make you feel most you. Take on challenges and step out of your comfort zone often. Grow your confidence outside of work, and it will begin to be at the forefront of every decision you make at work.

 

Experiment With Different Decision-Making Methods

Experimentation is also instrumental in cultivating confident decision-making as a project manager, mainly experimenting with different decision-making methods. Relying on one way to make decisions won’t do you any good in a role where rapid change is the norm.

On the other hand, the ability to use different decision-making techniques and apply them effectively to drive your projects forward is wise. Here are a few decision-making methods to get you started:

  • Consensus Approach — the entire team discusses their ideas and solutions, and you make a final decision as a group.
  • The Vroom-Yetton decision model — the situation dictates the best way to move forward as a leader and with a decision.
  • Kepner-Tregoe Matrix — identify a specific goal, weigh different solutions to that goal, and pick the best solution out of those discussed.

 

Lean into Data-Driven Decision-Making

As crucial as trusting your gut is to grow confident in your decision-making, you shouldn’t rely on it alone. Using data to back the decisions you move forward with can help you feel much more confident in them.

For example, let’s say you’re faced with a decision about adjusting marketing messaging to enhance the customer experience. In that case, you could analyze data about the customer journey to see which marketing messages are responsible for driving the most conversions. Then, you can tweak the messages that aren’t working to mirror those that are.

Get comfortable with data and use it to drive your project management decisions. When you combine data with your hunch, you’ve got something powerful that can prompt insightful decision-making that produces results. And getting results will help boost your confidence, making it even easiest to make decisions in the future.

 

Think Short-Term and Long-Term

Many project managers think about either short-term or long-term outcomes, but rarely both. As a result, they don’t make the best decision for the situation, adversely affecting the entire project. They may also become continually less confident in their choices, the more they encounter these kinds of situations.

Do the opposite and analyze both. First, take some time to think about each decision’s potential short-term effects. Then, weigh possible long-term effects. Equally consider the potential consequences of both before moving forward with a permanent decision.

 

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Look at Failure Differently

In role your, you need to make many decisions each day. As much as you want to make the right decision every time without hesitation, that just isn’t realistic. Failure is inevitable in this line of work, whether due to changing circumstances or simply making the wrong choice (even if you were sure it was right). To succeed as a project manager, you must become comfortable with this fact.

The best way to become comfortable with things not going well is to look at failure differently. Embrace moments of failure as learning opportunities. The more you learn from mistakes, the better decisions you can make in the future, and the more confident you can become. Don’t beat yourself up when things don’t go right. Instead, learn from failure and build on it.

 

Celebrate Wins

Failures will happen, but so will successes, both big and small.

If you want to cultivate confident decision-making, you must celebrate decisions that led to wins as much as you learn from what didn’t work. As you see your decision-making produce excellent results, you can start to grow your confidence moving forward.

Celebrate your decision-making wins. Reflect on decisions you made that produced the positive results you hoped for, as well as ones with unexpectedly positive results. Also, praise the decisions you thought wouldn’t end well but ended up being critical to the success of a project.

 

Give Yourself Time

If you start working on being more confident with your decision-making today, you won’t be the most confident decisionmaker tomorrow. In other words, it takes time to grow confidence. Allow yourself that time. There will be peaks and valleys in your journey to trusting and believing in yourself wholeheartedly. Enter them all with grace and understanding.

 

Conclusion

There’s no place for indecision in project management. You’ll slow your team’s workflow, potentially prevent a project’s success, and ruin your confidence with negative results. Use the tips above to cultivate confident decision-making and become a better project manager.