The Challenge of Difference
Managing difference will be one of the major problems you'll experience as a Project Manager.
Many people involved in the project will take the view that a project is geared towards meeting their requirements, or will benefit from the approach that they bring. And to a large extent this is true. However, it is incredibly difficult for people to realise how different things look from someone else's perspective.
Your challenge as Project Manager is twofold:
- To be able to step out of your own perspective and understand how others see the project (and there may be many different perspectives you have to understand)
- To build an appreciation amongst those involved in the project of all the different perspectives held by everyone else!
Sources of Difference
There can be many sources of difference on a project, such as:
eg: likes plans - vs - goes with the flow
- Work culture
eg: quality focus - vs - suck it and see
eg: matrix management demanding different things from individuals
eg: team members may have been "sold" the project for particular reasons, such as career development
- National culture
eg: different nationalities may approach work in different ways
Team members may have differing views of what is important
There are many different skills and backgrounds in the team, which influence how team members approach the project
To manage difference in the project team, you need to:
- Make them aware of difference
- Encourage them to appreciate difference
- Resolve differences constructively for the purpose of improving team performance and increasing creativity
You can often achieve (1) and (2) on team workshops. It is often worth getting an experienced facilitator to help you plan and deliver a workshop focusing on the types of differences discussed above.
Resolving differences constructively - 3 - is an ongoing process that you may need to manage in meetings with the the whole team and/or two or more individuals within the team.
The next article in this online course is: Project Management Training:
Soft Skills Part 12: Communication Techniques