Unfazed by Flux
Four Ways to Build a Change-Ready Mindset
By R. Sarma Danturthi, PMP
Today's project professionals must adjust quickly to the accelerating pace of change. Those who try to cling to the status quo will be brushed aside as change unfolds without them. From my eight years of managing projects in the IT realm—which seems to be transformed every few years—I've landed on four pieces of advice for helping project pros develop resilience in the face of flux.
1. Keep a Healthy Distance. Wherever a project manager works, he or she likely will develop a bond to the organization and its teams and products. But it's wise to not get too attached, because change is inevitable: Team members leave, organizations are acquired or go out of business, and products become obsolete. Strong emotional attachment to an organization and specific teams can stunt a project manager's professional growth. For example, a project manager whose team member leaves might resist hiring a replacement, feeling that no one could ever replace the departing employee, or a project manager too attached to a particular team member might have difficulty recognizing when that person is not performing at his or her best.
2. Learn and Share. Successful project managers know knowledge can dispel fear of change. Reading up on a new project management approach your organization wants to adopt or taking a new project management tool for a test drive before your workplace officially introduces it can help you grow comfortable with it. Similarly, sharing your new knowledge or experiences with team members will show them that the change is nothing to dread but that in the long run, it can immensely benefit them and their projects.
3. Welcome Feedback. One of the big mistakes project managers make when introducing a change to their teams is to monopolize the conversation. Instead, project managers must listen to team members’ concerns and objections. If the planned change implementation has serious flaws, employees closest to the work can help spot them early and suggest improvements.
4. Embrace Better. Change often feels like a bitter hardship at first, but project managers must develop the mindset that any constructive change is positive. The sooner we embrace it, the better. If improved technology is replacing previous systems or if a new method of status reporting is more effective than the old one, it is best to encourage this change and move forward. The key to recognizing when a change is an improvement is to always maintain a vision of what the organization and its projects need to thrive. If the change furthers that vision, then project managers should welcome it. PM
|R. Sarma Danturthi, PhD, PMP, is a senior IT specialist for the project management division, U.S. Department of Defense, Fort Knox, Kentucky, USA.|