Develop Your Project Management Soft Skills with Six Sigma

Develop Your Project Management Soft Skills with Six Sigma

By Discovery Lean Six Sigma

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Develop Your Project Management Soft Skills with Six Sigma

Project management requires high-level skills in technical areas. They include an understanding of the collection and application of statistics and process improvement methodology.

These skills are mandatory. But so are soft skills.

In its 2017 Pulse of the Profession® report, the Project Management Institute (PMI®) made a point of emphasizing the need for soft skills or “people skills.” Of the project managers surveyed as part of the report, 32% said soft skills have as high an importance as technical skills.

It seems like common sense. Project managers take on leadership positions. Soft skills such as communication and conflict resolution are essential to leadership.

However, in careers driven by the quantitative, soft skills often don’t get the consideration they deserve.

Important Soft Skills

The following represent some of the key soft skills project managers need.

Communication – This requires clearly communicating goals to others. But it also includes active listening skills. Communication is not a monologue by a leader. It’s a two-way street that involves listening to input and putting it into action.

Leadership – In this context, leadership addresses practical skills leaders need for success. For example, the attributes of a good team and how to assemble people with the right skill set for a project. Understanding team dynamics, and how to get the best performance from team members, is an essential soft skill for project managers.

Motivation – This involves understanding what positive forces motivate individuals. Each comes with their own views on work and each requires a different type of motivation.

Conflict Management – Finding positive ways to resolve issues between team members. Transparency in this process is key.

Trust Building – Trust is one of the hardest things to earn, but once won it lasts. Honesty in communication is important, as well as modeling behavior for the team.

Decision Making – Leadership positions are not designed for those who always delegate decisions. The ability to make decisions actually requires work. Managers must build trust in themselves to make the right call. This also requires managers to clearly define issues that need resolution, brainstorm potential solutions with appropriate team members and carefully consider all the alternatives.

While “soft,” these skills are critical in a leadership role.

Six Sigma and Project Management

Those in project management take on the role of leading a team of people on accomplishing a specific business goal. Once the project is done, they move on to something else. The focus is on achieving a goal that makes a business operation more efficient, less costly and one that delivers a better product or service.

The overall goal is to complete a project on time, on budget and by accomplishing the original business intent.

Much of this aligns with Six Sigma methodology. Started at Motorola in the 1980s, the people-oriented methodology has spread from manufacturing to all facets of private business, nonprofits and government agencies. The overall goal is to identify issues, address them with changes and measure the outcome of the effort, all while limiting mistakes.

Both areas leverage process methodology to improve performance and achieve goals. Both also take similar approaches. Goals are defined. Teams are formed. The plan moves forward in distinct phases with concrete milestones.

Six Sigma Soft Skills

The method for producing more efficient business operations can also apply to developing soft skills. In Six Sigma, DMEDI helps define the parameters of a process that leads to improvement.

The acronym stands for the following steps. Think of these in context of developing soft skills.

Define – Define the nature and scope of the goal. This not only is crucial in setting a process in motion, but also provides clear goals to measure success.

Measure – The key to further developing measurement for success is that it must be quantifiable and understandable.

Explore – Carefully consider all the options to pursue that will achieve the goal.

Develop – At this stage, the time has come to build out a concrete plan to follow.

Implement – Putting the plan into action. This also requires frequent testing to ensure a plan is working, using the measurements developed in step two.

While typically used to improve processes, these steps also can aid with developing soft skills. Setting goals in soft skills and using a Six Sigma method such as DMEDI can help project managers attain the soft skills they need and put them into action.

PMI and Pulse of the Profession are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

The post Develop Your Project Management Soft Skills with Six Sigma appeared first on Six Sigma Daily.

By: James LoPresti
Posted: August 21, 2017, 1:15 pm

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