What We Liked
To get readers going, Author Anthony Mersino provides an Emotional Intelligence Mini-Assessment self-test. This is a table of twenty questions to which you answer "Yes" or "No". To get your personal evaluation, you sum only your "No" answers and read of the findings in a second table that puts you into one of four categories, effectively: "You're OK"; "Not bad"; "Not good"; and "You really need to work on it". Of course you want to know where we landed? - Squarely into the one that says: "Could use some improvement in a few key areas." If only we had known sooner.
But in Chapter 1, Anthony states frankly:
"It wasn't until I decided to include emotional intelligence as part of the curriculum for the project management course I taught at Northwestern University that I began to read the published materials on the topic."
That leads us to believe in an apparently common practice: Teach first and learn afterwards. How prescient! We know of teachers (not even project managers) who follow in the same path in project management and that makes us worry about the competence of the next generation of project managers.
Advisedly, Anthony spends some time in discussing and defining what Emotional Intelligence is. He suggests that there are three variants:
- "The ability to monitor one's own and other's feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one's thinking and action."
- "The abilities to recognize and regulate emotions in ourselves and in others."
- "Knowing and managing our own emotions and those of others for improved performance."
The last variant is Anthony's own interpretation in so far as it applies to project management as well as to life in general. In fact, he suggests that Emotional Intelligence is vital to Project Managers for three reasons because:
- Each project is unique. As PMs move from project to project, [they] constantly experience a change of teams, sponsors, and other stakeholders.
- Projects are temporary, they have a beginning and end, putting pressure on PMs to move quickly leaving little time to develop strong relationships.
- PMs typically have limited power and authority over project team members. PMs need to use more sophisticated strategies to achieve desired outcomes.
Accordingly, Anthony has built his own model framework of Emotional Intelligence for project management as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Emotional Intelligence Framework for Project Management
Based on this framework, and like building a house from the ground up, Anthony develops his ideas in the remaining chapters. His material covers a lot of familiar territory especially on the topics of emotions, relationships, leadership and so on. However, the difference is his attempt to show how these apply when it comes to managing the people working on a project.
Perhaps the most interesting for us was Item 5, Team Leadership. For example, under the heading Methods of Project Communications, Anthony provides a table of typical means of office communication and against each is Tips for Maximizing Effectiveness. In the case of Email, he suggests: "When in doubt, let an Email sit over night or get a friend to read". Either way is like reading the original draft as an incoming message, with a new pair of eyes. That is valuable advice and people should do that far more often.
Chapter 8, Creating a Positive Team Environment also provides valuable insights. In a section titled: How PMs Set the Tone and Direction for the Project he lists:
- Establish team values
- Enforce the rules
- Stand up to management
- Hold others accountable
- Recognize individuals
These are elaborated in the sections that follow. They are all familiar topics, of course, but nevertheless it is useful to be reminded of them.
Conversely, what characteristics make a project great for the team members? Participants of past projects have suggested:
- Interdependence among team members
- Diversity of team members
- Mutual respect
- Challenging work
- Shared common goals
- Everyone committed
- High performance of all members
- Synergy amongst the team
8. Ibid, p5
9. Attributed to Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer
10. Attributed to Daniel Goleman and Gary Cherniss
11. Mersino, p8
12. Ibid, abstracted from p16
13. Ibid, p25
14. Ibid, pp164-165
15. Ibid, 191
16. Ibid, p189