Despite all the technical aspects, managing the project always comes down to managing people. All the people who work on your project are personalities with their own emotions, opinions, and attitude.
Unfortunately, these people often lack motivation or experience dissatisfaction with their work. As the LinkedIn survey shows, dissatisfaction with the leadership of senior management is one of the top reasons why people leave their jobs.
So how to keep your team satisfied with their work and not to fail a project? In this article, we will discuss the issues of emotional intelligence and conflict solving as the key factors in running a project smoothly.
What is Emotional Intelligence and why is it so important?
Today’s Project Managers are not just people who manage project scope, budget, schedule, risks, and a team. They are expected to be leaders who mentor and coach their team members, help them to grow professionally, and provide them with a mission.
Therefore, it is essential to be able to handle your own and recognize your team members’ emotions. That is why, in a modern world, we hear about the importance of emotional intelligence (EI) more and more often.
Emotional Intelligence is a set of abilities that help us:
- to identify and manage our own emotions and the emotions of others;
- to interact successfully with the people around us.
According to TalentSmart, a leading provider of emotional intelligence test, training, and certification, over 75% of the Fortune 500 companies use emotional intelligence training tools. Furthermore, 90% of top performers have a high level of emotional intelligence within their companies.
Daniel Goleman, a psychologist and the author of the best-selling book called Emotional Intelligence, says that EI consists of 5 elements: self-awareness, self-regulation, internal motivation, empathy, and social skills.
How can EI help the project managers?
Building trust with a client. EI helps understand clients’ pains, problems, and the level of satisfaction with the project’s status.
Building relationships with a team and each particular team member. Emotionally intelligent people are more likely to understand other people’s emotions and needs. If you want your team to deliver the best results, you have to catch on with each member, understand their needs, arrange one-to-one meetings, etc.
Being a successful leader. Successful leaders have to be proactive and able to respond appropriately whenever there is any discomfort or misconception in their teams. Emotional intelligence allows picking up the signals in the group right away and respond
Conflict solving. Using emotional intelligence for conflict resolution means trying to understand each person’s opinion without judgment, taking care of their interests and coming up with a solution suitable for all the conflict sides.
Effective communication. Understanding your team members’ emotions allows you to improve communication and find the right approach to your team.
Conducting interviews. When hiring a new person, it is vital to find somebody who will not only meet the technical requirements but also be a good fit for your team.
Tips for increasing emotional intelligence
Observe your feelings. Being able to identify your emotional triggers is crucial for developing your emotional intelligence. Only when you understand your feelings and how they affect your working life, the communication with your team, and the productivity level, you can manage them.
Control your emotions. In any circumstances, you are the only one responsible for your feelings and attitude. You cannot always behave correctly, but you can learn to manage your emotions when they can make the situation worse.
Practice responding, not reacting. Reacting is usually quick and thoughtless. On the contrary, responding is more thought-out, well-formulated, and based on the consideration of different factors and the situation.
Practice empathy. A good project manager has to master the skill of empathizing. It is critical to imagine yourself in other person’s shoes and try to understand how they feel.
Fill the blind spot with feedback. Emotionally intelligent people have to be open for criticism and feedback. Even though criticism can be offensive and you may not always agree with it, encouraging feedback from your team will help you understand your fails and improve your behavior.
Stay humble. Project managers who think that they are better and smarter than the others are far from being emotionally intelligent. Moreover, people who consider themselves perfect do not feel the need for improvement. So stay humble, learn from others, and develop your skills.
Conflicts are natural for any working environment. A conflict happens when someone’s point of view, aim, or values interfere with the others’. There are substantive conflicts that arise over things such as goals, values, tasks, and the allocation of resources.
On the other hand, there are emotional conflicts associated with different emotions such as annoyance, jealousy, insecurity, envy, and others. Despite nature and the type, it is critical for a project manager to identify conflict and act in response.
Tips to prevent conflicts
- Listen first, talk second.
- Set clear expectations.
- Encourage collaboration.
- Discourage gossip and gossipers.
- Get to know different personalities and roles in your team.
- Encourage friendships.
- Do not micromanage (if possible).
- Survey your team and conduct one-to-one meetings.
- Understand the communication styles of your team members.
- When a conflict arises, embrace it instead of running away from it.
Conflicts can have a positive impact. They can bring new questions to the table, encourage new creative solutions, and even improve the relationships among the team members. After all, you gain experience in conflict solving that can be very useful in the future.
If a conflict happens in your team, it does not mean a project management failure. The most damaging thing is when a conflict is poorly handled.
When a conflict is not handled effectively it may result in:
- The frustration of the team members;
- Competition between team members in a win-lose environment where one side gains and the other one loses;
- Stressful atmosphere;
- Demotivation of the employees and increased staff turnover;
- Low effectiveness and performance;
- Poor communication and development of gossip culture;
It is said that people do not leave companies, they leave managers. Project managers indeed have great power in their hands. If you want to run your project smoothly, you should continually master the craft of emotional intelligence.
As a project manager, you have to understand your team members’ perceptions, feelings, goals, and reflect on them. Therefore, if a conflict happens, you can handle it in a proper way counting on the needs of your team.