A representative from a community church approached me to manage an eight week fundraising project, codenamed SPUD. The project goal was to "Host a booth and sell baked potatoes at a multi-day local fair".
Case Study: Managing a Volunteer Project to Sell Baked Potatoes
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Is that a compliment, or are you being sarcastic?

Have you worked with someone who makes you dread going to the office? Perhaps you have worked for, or know someone who works with bozo-the-boss. What is it about some people that rub you up the wrong way, even though you can't put your finger on it?


I worked for a manager who get her thrills from working chaotically and with drama. She refused to plan the work and waited until Friday afternoon to realize that the outstanding work for the week needed to be delegated. I prefer planning to drama and did not appreciate being told on Friday at 4:20 PM that I have to cancel the family plans for the weekend so that my team can work over the weekend due to her lack of planning.


How do you feel about being told that you need to work on the weekend, on Friday afternoon? 


Most people don't want to hear this news. However, some people are ok with it, and some people revel in the drama that such poor planning creates. "If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail" is the opposite of project managers who are firefighters and breed arsonists on their projects. Their plan is to fail to plan. 


After we worked the weekend, my manager said "I am glad that you rose to the challenge and took action to keep our project on track. I know who to call on in the future."


My thought: "Is that a compliment, or are you being sarcastic?"


We want to be complimented for the behaviours and traits that we find valuable. I do not want to be complimented for taking action and "saving the day". I prefer to have the opportunity to plan, execute the plan and be complimented for my planning ability as well as the foresight to allow project team members to have their time off. Complimenting me for a lack of planning is offensive.


Situations like this occur every day in organizations, corporations and the hilarious "Office Space". Let us assume that every player in this example is well-intentioned and the misunderstandings are only the result of misperceptions.  How can you improve relationships on your projects and teams? 


This is where Relationship Awareness Theory comes to your rescue. In the example above, my manager has a "Red" MVS (Amongst other common traits, it means that she thrives in environments that reward a lot of action and activity), while I have a "Green" MVS and thrive in environments that reward good planning and orderly execution. This is a conflict waiting to happen, unless someone in the relationship takes setps to avoid it. 


As I work with groups of project managers through my workshops in New England, the common expression is "Wow. Now I understand so much better. I have known this for years but couldn't put my finger on what was happening. Now, I have tools to avoid some conflict and build better relationships." 


Since I started applying Relationship Awareness Theory in my life, I have been able to modify my behaviour in various situations. Here is a quick examples of Relationship Awareness Theory in action:


When presenting a plan to a key stakeholder (who is Red-Green), I listed the tasks on the action plan, gave a brief description and plan for each one, and moved on to the next task. She appreciated the energy and a plan for each task. (My default approach is to give the details for each task, but by borrowing behaviour, our relationship is more effective.)


We work with people every day in our organizations and project teams, but we don't know what makes them tick or what motivates their behaviour. We assume it is the same thing that motivates us, but we are wrong. Relationship Awareness Theory gives you another tool to choose from when trying to avoid conflict on your team, have a nicer day at the office and ultimately enjoy the benefits of productive relationships.


You can't have productive and effective relationships if your compliments are interpreted as offensive. Improve your relationships through Relationship Awareness Theory training.


Copyright 2018 Wayne Botha Email Wayne Cell: 860.214.4897