Libro The Complete Project Manager

Be respectful as a Project Manager

As project management practitioners, we deal with people on an almost daily basis. And as more and more projects go global, team members from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds are being asked to work together.

Some years ago, I worked on a multinational program team. The U.S. program manager supervised a group of project managers from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Germany, France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Russia and the Middle East.

The first thing the program manager did was to hold a meeting covering the program’s mission, objectives and scope. His main objective, however, was to bring this culturally diverse team together face-to-face. It was a fantastic opportunity for the team members to learn more about one another’s behaviors and ways of communicating in a relaxed environment.

Not every multinational team will be lucky enough to meet face-to-face, however. So project managers must be able to identify and understand cultural and communication differences from language, tone and inflection. Here are some tips:

  1. Learn to listen for cultural differencesand immediately recognize problems that may arise. Often times, our cultures influence what we say and how we say it.
  2. Honor those differences.Effective communication comes from celebrating—and taking advantage of—our differences, rather than ignoring them.
  3. Study up on the work habits and attitudes of different cultures.For example, Germans are known for their discipline, while the Spanish and Italians tend to be less disciplined but more creative.
  4. Remain independent.Showing sensitivity to these issues doesn’t mean losing your sense of self. The objective is not to become a member of the other culture—it is more a matter of recognizing the differences.
  5. Don’t generalize by gender.Men are not always from Mars and women are not always from Venus. Cultures may establish perceptual stereotypes, but what motivates people and builds their self-worth is not determined by gender.

If you respect the others’ cultures and differences, they will respect yours.

Today is a good day to start!

Alfonso Bucero, MSc, CPS, PMP, PMI-RMP, PfMP, PMI Fellow

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