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Look after the emotions and the projects will look after themselves

Do you like mathematics? I love maths, always have. I was good at it so I typically got good teachers that inspired me, which made me love it even more.

Too often, though, I hear people say they hate maths. Not because it’s hard or boring. Some actually say they used to love it. Most people tell me they hate maths because they had a terrible maths teacher in high school. Maybe that's why I'm not so keen on English. But I digress…

I went to two different high schools. When I look back at the two schools and compare them, it's not the quality of the education I rank them on, nor is it the school trips, camps, or discos. What I rank those two schools on is the friends I made and the social interactions I had.

I've worked in several different jobs and, again, it's the like-minded people and the social interactions that stick with me as I reflect back on current and previous jobs, not the individual projects, the various technologies or the quality of the local food... Well okay, maybe the food. Seriously though, of the jobs I've had, those I've enjoyed the most are those that have given me the best social experience.

Having lived in a few different cities, the pattern is the same: like-minded people and a positive, stimulating social experience are what drive me. People excite people; the right people inspire people and make them into better, more interesting people who, in turn, inspire others. Conversely, people are also capable of depressing people and bringing them down. Life is full of both kinds of people. In fact, the world is divided into two kinds of people: those who divide the world into two kinds of people, and those who don't.

So where is this all going?

As someone who thrives on positive social interactions with like-minded people, I have been applying this same social observation of subjects, schools, cities and jobs to my role at Intergen and to my project work.

Here's the essence of it: If we promote an atmosphere of positive social interaction amongst people who genuinely want to succeed for themselves and for those around them, and encourage them to do the same, then our exploits have a much greater chance of success.

Look after the emotions and the projects will look after themselves. 

But wait, aren’t we a technology company? Isn’t the technology still important?

Of course it is. Technology is what we do, but we’re also a professional services company and our staff and business partners are very important to us. The same values apply to the construction industry, hospitality, health, or dare I say it – even international sport!

A retired teacher last week told me that one of the problems with society is that schools teach 95% facts and 5% attitude. Whereas employers look for 20% facts and 80% attitude - confident they can teach the facts but aware that changing an attitude is more difficult. That certainly applies to my approach when I interview people. Sure we look for smart people who can deliver quality solutions, but above all we’re looking for a cultural fit.

I have never been more satisfied in a position as I am now and that is a tribute to the people in our team, our office and our company. Everyone is bright, cheerful, and positive and has a lot to offer both technically and socially to the teams and projects they are involved in. Being immersed in all this I feel like I did in my maths class in primary school - although my writing is a lot messier these days.

Look after the emotions and the projects will look after themselves. See every opportunity as a chance at positive social interaction and even the most dreaded events can leave you on a high if they go well.

Any individual can turn a situation around by looking after the emotions of those involved. Let's not give anyone the excuse to say they liked something until they had a terrible teacher.

Posted by: Bryce Saunders, Senior Consultant | 19 June 2008

Tags: Project Management

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