Difficult Person or Learning Opportunity?
“I can’t see any reason why I would ever use this information,” one of my students told me as I was helping him with an in-class assignment. The tool we were discussing is called a responsibility assignment matrix and it helps map out the roles and responsibilities of members on a project team.
“I always know exactly who is responsible for what, I don’t care who is reviewing an item or helping with that item, I just need to know who is responsible for making it happen,” he stated.
Earlier that day we had similar conversation over another tool. We were looking at a resource histogram and walking through the steps of how preparing a resource histogram (how many of what types of resources you would use in a specific time period) can help you create a project budget. In this instance what he said to me was:
“But you are taking information that shows the quantity of something on one chart and then discussing dollar amounts in a different chart,” he said to me. “That makes absolutely no sense, why would I do that?” he asked.
I could have taken the position that this student was being confrontational, but I did not. I realized that this was his learning style and what he was really trying to do was take what I was teaching and apply it to his own work life. That is wonderful and something I would like to see with all of my students.
The reason I was able to see the situation as positive and to view this student as a learner and not a trouble maker is because I was taking my own advice. I was remembering not to take things personally and I was remembering that other people’s behavior is not about me, it is about them. This has been a theme over the past few months because I have really focused on group coaching sessions on dealing with difficult people and launched a training course ‘Dealing with Difficult People’, with Cornelius Fichtner. Cornelius of The PMPodcast fame has also launched PM Lectures. The PM Lectures site offers fully downloadable training for project managers. I had the honor of working with Cornelius on the first lecture to be offered on this site. So of course it is very important for me to continue to practice what I preach.
PS – As my student and I continued our conversation and reviewed and discussed what I had presented, he was in fact able to see a use for the responsibility assignment matrix and how we go from a resource histogram to a budget. Of course that makes it all worth the effort!
Posted: October 20th, 2008 under Uncategorized.
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