Elizabeth Harrin's must-read guide to communication and collaboration in project management
Published: 10 December 2014
We tend to take communication and collaboration for granted in groups and teams. It's a very dangerous assumption and Elizabeth Harrin's must-read guide will give you some great pointers on the skills, process and experience of engaging people and working together, whether your job is to lead or to follow.
1. Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers (2nd Edition), Anthony Mersino: Amacom, 2013. ISBN: 9780814432785
This is the book I wish I had written. It centres on the fact that even with the best project management skills in the world, projects still fail without good people management skills. The author includes practical tools and self-assessments, and I felt it was well-structured with a focus on being able to improve your skills.
2. Communicating Projects, Ann Pilkington: Gower, 2013. ISBN: 9781472408327
This is a process driven book that fully explains the processes of communicating formally on projects. There is a short section on using social communication tools. This book on the list is the most aligned to the project management lifecycle, covering the most appropriate approaches to use at various times through the project depending on the stage you are at.
3. Results Without Authority (2nd Edition), Tom Kendrick, Amacom 2012. ISBN: 9780814417812
Now that command and control is recognized as an ineffective way of managing projects, project managers need alternatives that work when they don’t have authority over the team. In this book the author includes examples from his own experience which demonstrate the techniques of getting project work done through others without direct authority. Very useful and highly recommended.
4. 42 Rules of Employee Engagement, Susan Stamm: Superstar Press, 2009. ISBN: 9780979942884
A short book that includes 42 short ways that you can engage others and communicate more effectively. It’s not rocket science but sometimes we need a reminder about what it takes it work well with others.
5. Business Networking: The Survival Guide, Will Kintish: Pearson, 2014. ISBN: 9781292009377
This book follows the story of Brian and his journey into business networking. It’s a fast read and if you aren’t confident networking in and out of your organization, then it’s a good introduction. It also makes the point that networking is what your manager expects you to be doing – it’s no longer a nice-to-have element that sets you out from the crowd, it’s your job.
6. Conflict 101, Susan H. Shearouse: Amacom, 2011. ISBN: 9780814417126
This book reminds us that conflict on teams is inevitable. The aim of this book is to help you manage conflict more effectively by managing it at a lower level. It includes lots of stories to illustrate the points and it’s easy to read. In fact, it instantly made me feel better about my bad day when I started reading in on the Tube.
7. Collaboration Explained: Facilitation Skills for Software Project Leaders, Jean Tabaka: Addison Wesley, 2006. ISBN: 9780321630056
Many books talk about how important collaboration is but this is a pragmatic and practical book about collaboration that actually shows you how to do it. I thought there were lots of techniques in here that I could use.
8. Shine: How to Survive and Thrive at Work, Chris Baréz-Brown: Penguin, 2011. ISBN: 9781101565810
This is an upbeat, pep talk of a book so if you aren’t in the mood to be told how to do more and be more, then put this aside until you are in the right mood. There are lots of sound bites too, many of which will help you work effectively with others, including making sure you have the information required to be useful and impress others on your projects.
9. Confessions of a Public Speaker, Scott Berkun: O’Reilly Media, 2009. ISBN: 9781449388706
Project managers often hide behind their desks or laptops but if you agree that they should be out there, talking about projects then this book will help you develop the confidence and practical skills to deliver formal presentations, regardless of the size of audience. Lots of real-world advice on coping strategies, focusing really around thinking through what you are going to say and making it relevant.
10. Generations, Inc.: From Boomers to Linksters – Managing the Friction Between Generations at Work, Larry & Meagan Johnson: Amacom, 2010. ISBN: 9780814415764
If you are working with different generations this is a good book to help unpick the challenges of collaborating in a multi-generational workplace. Heavily U.S. specific, nevertheless there are some interesting insights that can be applied to working effectively with project teams in the UK and around the world. A good guide to office politics, too.
11. Strategies for Project Sponsorship, Peter Taylor, Ron Rosenhead & Vicki James: Management Concepts, 2013. ISBN: 9781567264074
One of your main points for communication and collaboration is with the project sponsor. This book will help you communicate and work effectively with them, regardless of their experience at sponsoring projects. Plenty of practical advice for new sponsors as well, so you could pass your copy on to them.
12. Communication Skills for Project and Programme Managers, Melanie Franklin & Susan Tuttle: Stationery Office, 2008. ISBN: 9780113310814
This is probably the most basic, introductory guide on the list, so if everything else looks too in-depth, start with this one. It’s tailored to PRINCE2 project environments. It’s a short book that will help you brush up on the basics and it covers how to communicate and what to communicate when on a project.