This article is the third in a series that discusses the key attributes to successfully navigating change and transformation from practical experience. The aim of the articles is to discuss my five pillars to successful change and/or transformation initiatives, which are not concerned with the different methodologies available within the market sector. Instead they talk through the common pitfalls of change and transformation that can, if used correctly, become key components to its success.

Skills needed for transformation:

A project team are made up of several roles (PM’s, BA’s, test managers, PMO’s, implementation managers, programme managers, trainers etc) all requiring specific skillsets that need to be supported by more general skills covering all roles.

Developing skills for transformation is very similar to developing skills for any role. It’s the difficult task of being honest about what your strengths and weaknesses are, so that you have a clear picture of what needs work. Throughout my career I’ve noticed the core skills in my successful peers were being organised; responsible; decisive; problem solver; calm in all situations; and conflict resolution. I’ve heard these referred to as soft skills, but I view these as critical skills for all team members to possess so that the project can be a success.

This article will discuss these skills and take time to focus on the skill I believe is the most important to being successful in change and transformation.

Critical Skills

Responsible – being responsible for the actions required of your project to deliver. Not letting others pick up the work that you are accountable for and best place to deliver and taking responsibility for resolving the short comings of your work.

Decisive – quick and effective decisions made confidently that use the information available and consider risk management. These decisions need input from the relevant project team members and stakeholders to benefit from their insight. Ultimately a decision is needed to move the project forward irrespective if it solves all the concerns of stakeholders.

Problem solving – I’ve a strong believer in simple solutions for complex problems. All projects come up against problems. Finding a straight-forward solution that’s focused on delivering the requirements of the project will help the project succeed. Instead of presenting problems to your stakeholders, present them with achievable resolution options.

Calm – projects will go through phases of peaks and troughs in terms of workload. Generally, it’s easy to be calm at work when things are quiet but maintaining that calmness during times of stress takes work. Developing strategies for managing stressful situations to exude an air of calmness helps to excel at high performing periods.

Conflict resolution – negotiating with stakeholders who have different and/or opposing priorities is key to agreeing outcomes that support the project. The resolution often comes in the shape of a compromise, but one that benefits both parties and develops positive working relationships.

The importance of being organised

Of all the skills I mentioned above, being organised is my most important skill for delivering successful projects. Working in projects can be chaotic and complex but having a simple organised approach has helped me utilise my time better, thereby improving productivity and meeting goals. Simply put, being organised is being in control.

Whilst it’s not a competition with everyone else, I have noticed that those who don’t have an organised approach to work typically fall behind and need additional support to manage their workload.

A benefit of being part of a team is how we can all influence one another. If there’s organised members of the team, then the positive outcomes of their organisation will help influence their team members resulting in a more productive team. The same can be said for unorganised people and the negative impact they have upon their teams.

A well organised project creates a more relaxed working environment by mitigating the stress of a team falling behind. It allows you to make the most of stakeholder’s time and brings clarity to the tasks ahead. It’s needed from the start through to the end.

Final Thoughts

Skills take time to amass, time to develop and that development comes out of trial and error. The good news is you can start working on these skills now so that you’re not waiting til it’s too late to leverage them.

In the words of Liam Neeson in the film Taken “What I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career”. Be like Liam Neeson’s character, develop your skills throughout your career and use them effectively – just don’t tear down the underbelly of Paris at the same time!

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