As a manager in charge of technical professionals, I have learned that managing projects with multiple team members requires certain people skills, as well as technical skills. In the world of management, there are many skills required when it comes to the management of people. These skills, and how you apply them, vary depending on the type of business you are in, as well as the type of people whom you manage.
You might look at this topic and completely miss what I mean by it. If so, then the very fact that you donít understand illustrates my point. Technical professionals, by nature, are very logical. While this is extremely helpful when working on projects, it can often be problematic when communicating with management, or anyone else for that matter.
Before I learned to communicate effectively, I had a very bad reputation. I could not be trusted to speak to customers or managers of other departments without having one of my immediate managers in the room. You see, when I would say something, what I said was logical and to the point. The problem was not the content of what I said, but the context in which I said it. In other words, itís not what I said that was the problem; it is how I said it. Luckily, my immediate manager at the time understood technical people, and would quickly translate what I said into the appropriate communication.
As luck would have it, the above-mentioned manager was later replaced. His replacement, unfortunately, was not so familiar with the workings of the technical mind. In the very beginning of working with this new person, it felt as if he was an adversary. He was always questioning the things I would say, and was never happy with my explanations. It didnít dawn on me until later that maybe he just didnít understand what I meant.
So, the next time I spoke with him, I took the time to think about what it was that I was going to say, and then how I was going to say it. It was difficult at first, since technical people seem to share an affinity for speaking quickly and very logically. But as I was speaking with him, he stopped me at one point and said ďI donít understand that, can you explain it to me?Ē I was shocked. We had been taking about this one portion of the project for 2 weeks, and the whole time he had absolutely no idea what I was even referring to. By just slowing down, and taking the time to think about what I was going to say and who I was saying it to, I was able to better communicate with my manager and we quickly got off to a great working relationship.
I quickly employed this method to all of the other channels that I communicated with. Within a few months, my bad reputation had all but disappeared, and I was actually sought after for technical discussions with internal teams and even customers, since I seemed to have developed an ability to discuss even the most complicated projects in laymanís terms even with non-technical people.