[00:00:00.170] - Chris
In this episode of great practices. I'm talking with Paul Turlamesian, founder of Georgia Learns Now and a business consultant that identifies and solves real problems that plague businesses today. Listen in as Paul discusses the challenges of project teams working together, especially when their members have different opinions, his slingshot theory on how to accelerate project team growth, why it's better to ask for forgiveness than permission when implementing this approach, and the importance of being a good listener and learner. Plus, discover which two doors are available to you as a PMO leader and which one of the two you should choose every single time.
[00:00:41.570] - Narrator
It's hard to say when something is a best practice, but it's much easier to know when something is a great practice. And that's what this podcast is all about. Interviews with CMO and project management leaders, through years of trial and error, have discovered their own great practices and are now sharing their insights with you. Now sit back and enjoy the conversation as Chris Kopp uncovers another great practice in this episode.
[00:01:10.470] - Chris
We'd like to welcome you to this episode of Great Practices. And there is a concept in marketing that is called Know Like Trust. Before anyone is going to buy anything from you or a company, they need to know that you exist. They need to know who you are. They need to like you, your personality as a person, what you stand for as a company. And this will ultimately lead to trust because you're delivering on your promises. That's why inbound and social media marketing is so effective. Marketers show up day after day, month after month, sometimes year after year, to earn your business. Now, what if we shifted the script? We're not going to flip it all together, but let's say we moved this no like trust script over to another discipline and started using this in the project management and PMO space. Would our teams benefit from the process that marketers go through to Know Like and trust each other on our teams? Is there maybe an extension of Know Like Trust that we could apply, maybe adding value to the end of Know Like and Trust? Well, that's what our guest, Paul Turlamesian is going to uncover for us today.
[00:02:22.080] - Chris
Paul is the founder of Georgia Learns now LLC. This is a community of business leaders focused on leveraging the power of learning. So welcome, Paul, and we're looking forward to learning something from you today.
[00:02:35.110] - Paul
Thank you, Chris. Glad to be here.
[00:02:37.030] - Chris
So let's start, Paul, with just telling us a little bit about yourself and what you do.
[00:02:41.540] - Paul
So, to simplify it, I'd like to describe myself simply as a business consultant. There are lots of us. Our uniqueness of my work, I believe, is that I really crave and focus on identifying the real problem that exists. And then I stopped being a consultant. I'd be a contractor. And I said, now let's assemble the best team and let's go solve the problem. Once we're sure we got the real problem identified, let's assemble a team and solve the problem. I'm a math major, which means that I've been trained to challenge every assumption and to believe that one plus one equals eleven. The goal of this is to assure the performance. I want to be sure that the people I work with are performing. I want to accelerate their ability to learn and then adapt how they get educated. Usually we start with the education and hope you learn, and it's up to you to perform. We turn it around. We say make sure they're performing it's, accelerate how they learn, and then adapt to get them the right education. So that's what we do. Georgia learns.
[00:03:47.220] - Chris
Now, look, us know and I, and I love that too, because it's like you're just not a consultant that comes in and know, finds a problem and then leaves. Right. But you stay there and you help solve Is, which is really good place to be. So all right, well, we're going to talk about a problem that a lot of companies have today and that's really with their teams working with each other and getting along with each other. So let's talk about this no, like, trust concept and the PMO. Why is it so important to have this type of relationship with each other as a team?
[00:04:22.610] - Paul
I empathize with being a project manager, and honestly, my wife is a project manager. So for 35 years I've been living with the woes of what a project manager is, especially when I'm the project that's trying to be managed. Right. But what I've learned about project managers is that a project has a beginning point and an end point and lots of problems in between. And the job of a project manager is to manage those problems. They're going to exist. You want to minimize the impact, delay the impact, remove the impact. You've got to deal with it. And so the problems are going to be there. That's why you have a job. The challenge is that you're under pressure to deliver the outcome of that project, and these problems get in the way. What I like to tease people about is how are you going to solve these problems if you don't know, like, and trust each other? And yet that's what we got to do because we got to get in and running. We'll do some team building. We'll do a little bit of this, but we don't have a lot of time for that, and we don't budget a lot of time to know, like and trust each other.
[00:05:28.670] - Paul
We've got a project to complete and going on. So this is a real, I believe, from experience, from observation that we all have to deal with, but specifically project managers, because almost everything's a project.
[00:05:44.510] - Chris
Yeah, that's right. Let me ask you this question. Do you think that the problem in establishing this relationship is just not having enough time, like you just need to be moved wide open all the time or what do you think the problem is there?
[00:05:57.810] - Paul
Time is an easy way to apply the problem, but we don't have the mindset. Sometimes our mind is and then even if we do have the mindset, we haven't been really trained to it. We don't have the tool set, we don't have tools that are focused on building this. So we just gloss over it. And we have lots of tools for managing a project and keeping a project going, but we don't have a set of tools to build relationship, build trust, build that acceptance of different perspectives. There's probably not even a word in the language to describe what we're seeking here.
[00:06:36.910] - Chris
So that's interesting because you're basically saying maybe even if we had enough time, if we had plenty of time, we wouldn't know what tools to use to necessarily put this together. Right? Yeah, that's a good way of looking at it there. All right, so you've developed a concept lately that's going to help establish these strong relationships. Can you share what this concept is with us?
[00:06:57.560] - Paul
Yeah, I'm going to share the concept, I tell you. And this concept didn't just pop into my head. We've been challenging ourselves and struggling with it formally for about twelve years, trying different things, applying different things, making a lot of mistakes in a way and watching what's emerged from it. And I jokingly to simplify it, call it the slingshot theory. And I don't think I've ever used a slingshot, but I've seen a YouTube video on it and I think it involves taking a step backward, stretching ourselves in the direction opposite that we think we're moving in, and then releasing that power to move forward faster and further than we could have before. So that's the notion. So what it says is how do we consciously take a step backwards, assure that the relationships between the individuals on the team are there, and that relationships mean I know the other members of my team, I know what they value, I know how they're being compensated and how they survive, and I know what they're afraid of. We're commonly asked people how they're compensated and think that their compensation drives things. They're also driven by their fears.
[00:08:15.570] - Paul
And if I don't know what my teammates are afraid of, I'm at risk of aggravating their fears and accelerating their fears and slowing down my progress. So we got to take a step back, understand those aspects of my team. Can we build the relationship? Can we create the trust by being vulnerable with each other and exposing our fears? And then can we care about so much for each other that we can advocate for who we are in some aspect of our life, even if that aspect is very different from I am? Can I advocate for something that's very different from who I am for this teammate? Of mine with authenticity if I can't if that's something that's holding me back now I got to go solve a problem with this person. They got to solve a problem for me, and I don't even accept them and value them as a human being. How much are you going to pay me to work with people that I don't value as a human being and don't value me? So that's what we got to we got to find a way to do this.
[00:09:10.370] - Chris
This sounds maybe somewhat counterintuitive then, right? I mean, it's like you are you're talking about taking that step back, and it's hard to take a step back, right? Because people are busy. There's deadlines, there's financial pressures. Everything's always moving forward. And if you go to your manager or executive leaders and say, yeah, I'm going to go this other direction and I'm going to spend some time doing these things over here, that may be a hard sell. So how would you implement this with your project team?
[00:09:38.120] - Paul
Number one, don't sell it.
[00:09:39.920] - Chris
Interesting be it okay if you can.
[00:09:43.070] - Paul
Be authentic, you as a leader have got to take the risk first. You've got to be authentic. You got to say, this is what I really want to accomplish with this team. I'm worried. I'm concerned. I see some risks. I don't think we know each other well enough. I don't think we're at risk because we don't value each other enough. I could prove me wrong. I want to be wrong, but I'm going to be vulnerable and authentic, and I'm going to be curious. Help me. You enlist them to help you overcome your fears, and I wouldn't be surprised if some of them say, thank you. I was afraid of that, too. But you've given me permission now to express my fears because you did it. So I wouldn't ask for permission. I wouldn't sell it. I would just be it. So you got to believe in being authentic, vulnerable, and curious. And if you as a leader can do that and show that in every action you take, I really believe your team is going to love you for that and love being part of the team with that because it allows them to be the same.
[00:10:46.560] - Chris
But isn't part of being a leader having all the answers and knowing where to go? I mean, isn't that what part of a leader is being?
[00:10:52.960] - Paul
I love that. That's what it used to mean. That's what it used to mean. And that's part of the problem. One of the analogies I like to use is that if I, as a leader, I, as a project manager, I'm about to walk into the room, and there's two doors that I can walk through. One door is labeled Answers Only, and the other door is labeled Questions Only. Which door do you choose? Choose questions only. You're only going to ask questions. And when you walk into that room and the audience in that room sees which door you open and came in through, they know you're going to ask questions. They better be prepared to answer questions, as opposed to if you come in with answers only, they're thinking, okay, here comes all the answers. Not going to listen to us, doesn't care about us. Which door do you want to be? So come in through the questions only door. You're only going to ask authentic questions. Boy, you'll get really good at that. And if you have any trouble practice with Chat GPT, ask it authentic questions, it'll give you authentic answers and it'll teach you how to ask better questions.
[00:11:58.760] - Chris
Yes, that is so true. There is no doubt about that. So let's face it, getting to know everybody, getting to feel comfortable with everybody. You may not like everyone once you get to know them, but can you get to the point of trusting those that maybe you don't like?
[00:12:20.730] - Paul
Number one, you don't have a choice. You have to if you're going to be successful with the team, because again, you're not going to get anywhere with your team if trust is not a component of it. But again, you got to exhibit. So you got to be committed to it and doesn't mean you're going to like it, doesn't mean you're going to like the process itself, but you've got to be committed to it. And again, it comes down to truly being curious and valuing and understanding their perspective. If somebody on the team is saying something is always bothering you, has always got a yah bot, has always got something to slow it down, probably not good to confront that publicly and not even to confront it privately, but privately to learn about it. Help me understand with authenticity, not as a criticism. I really want to learn more about your perspective, why you think that way, how you think that way. Learn from that perspective, reflect on it in terms of why it still bothers you. You don't have to accept it, you don't have to change, but understand yourself and to say, Why does this bother me?
[00:13:27.970] - Paul
What have you learned about yourself? Because somebody else's perspective bothers you. And then as a leader, force yourself to come back and think, here's how you can support them if they feel supported in their belief, not you've accepted and adopted, but hey, I respect you for your opinion. I'm going to help you be more effective in having your opinion heard. Will you be more effective in helping us be successful with the project? You don't have to like them, but if you can respect them and have them feel respected, wait, that makes a whole difference. If I know I'm going to be respected despite my opinions, it makes a whole difference.
[00:14:09.230] - Chris
And that's a really good point because there's always that is it better to be liked or respected conversation, or that dialog that goes on as a leader, right so that's really what you're talking about. Just applying that everywhere is if we have that mutual respect for each other, we can get a whole lot of stuff done. So that's a good way, then. It sounds like you're really capturing on how to work with those with different opinions, maybe even dissenting opinions. Is there any other suggestions, any other advice on working with those that just may totally not see eye to eye with you?
[00:14:42.720] - Paul
Yes. It starts with your own mindset. We really got to believe that none of us knows everything. The room is smarter than the smartest person in the room. We've heard these things. Why would we want to handicap anybody on our team by not allowing them to be their best? I, as the leader of that team, have got to assure that everybody is bringing their best. So my hint, my technique is really become a great listener, become a great learner. There's a book that was given to me as a gift about two years ago. I love about it. I talk about all the time. It's learning as a way of leading. How do I prove to my team that I am the best learner in the room? I know the questions to ask with authenticity so I can learn. And what I've learned from this book I gave you a little bit earlier. The two doors in the room come into the door that's focused on asking questions versus answers. Secondly, after you've got those answers, go back and reflect by looking in a mirror, not out the window. By looking in the mirror, you said what I learned about myself and then come back with the notion of building a stronger foundation and a stronger basement, as opposed to saying, here's the roof, here's the limits.
[00:16:02.280] - Paul
How can we expand our potential by having a stronger foundation based on what I've learned about myself? Because somebody was brave enough to differ with me. That helped me learn about myself. We're going to fix a problem and expand and build a stronger foundation. Easy to say, hard to do, but it's that mindset that lets me now approach the problem, to now find the tools that help me do that. How do I reflect upon myself? How do I then focus on building a stronger foundation for the team to work with? And I can enlist the help of this person that's opposed to me. Hey, help me. How do we keep this going in a way that your perspective and mine can both survive and get to the next level? I like to say to people, can you be with me and against me? I need that opposing position, but be with me and against me. It's like a building with the two pieces of wood lean against each other to support each other. You got to be with me and against me.
[00:17:05.130] - Chris
There's a concept I heard the other day that your network should begin where your experience ends. And I think to an extension, this is the same thing here. It's just like you already know what you know, so you could continue to surround yourself with people that know the exact same thing and have your exact same opinion, or you can extend out, know these others that have a different opinion, a different view of that's, that's.
[00:17:29.960] - Paul
Growth for you and for the team.
[00:17:31.640] - Chris
[00:17:32.400] - Paul
[00:17:34.130] - Chris
Paul, anything else you'd like to share with our listeners today to help their teams perform better?
[00:17:40.530] - Paul
Yes, I want to share one more wet thought. There was another book that I read called The New Leadership Literacies. This is a book that came out in 17 so pre COVID. I think its concepts were accelerated by COVID. So even more important, even though it's now a six year old book, and the one thing that I would like to emphasize from that book, it's got five concepts in there, but the one that I want to emphasize is to face your fears directly. Identify what you're afraid of. Don't hide it, don't minimize it, identify it, name it, name it. Authentically. I am afraid of the following. Be vulnerable. Let your team know what you're afraid of and find those. Allow them to also be vulnerable and face their fears, especially when they may be conflicting. Face your fears, identify them. Be curious together. How might we work on this? Fear together. And it's especially valuable if you have people with conflicting fears. If you're all afraid of the same thing, you're all going to come up with the same solution. We need to find those conflicting fears and then stay in relationship and be curious with each other to find a way to resolve those conflicting fears.
[00:18:59.890] - Chris
Great advice. Well, Paul, we appreciate you jumping on today and we certainly have come to know, like and trust you better in this conversation that we've had today. Now, if there's somebody that would like to talk further about this topic, what's the best way to reach you? How can they contact you?
[00:19:18.770] - Paul
Number one, as you think about reaching me, which I hope you'll do, challenge me, think about something you heard that you didn't like today that'll help me grow and it'll help you grow. So think of a challenge. You can call me 404-375-8758. Let me know how you found my number, my email, paul t, first letter, my last name. T at I five letter I word five, spelled out five alliances.com. Thank you, Chris.
[00:19:54.810] - Chris
[00:19:55.170] - Paul
I hope I get all kinds of emails and text messages.
[00:19:58.200] - Chris
Well, that would be great. And you're going to notice that on the way out of the studio, the door is on the left. It's the one that has all the questions on it right there. So that's the one you could take from there.
[00:20:09.380] - Paul
Good man. Thank you. On the way out.
[00:20:10.870] - Chris
All right, Paul.
[00:20:11.400] - Paul
Appreciate it. Thanks.
[00:20:12.200] - Chris
Talk to you soon.
[00:20:12.790] - Paul
Take care. Thank you. Bye.
[00:20:18.710] - Chris
Well, that was another great episode of great Practices, and we certainly appreciate Paul joining us today. What were some of these great practices and insights that came from this episode? Well, first of all, I appreciated the fact that Paul's wife is a project manager and he's been subjected to 35 years of project management himself. So that was kind of a good way to start the conversation right there. But really, Paul was focusing on mindset more than anything when it came to building these relationships because it's a matter of, even if we had enough time, do we have the tools that we need in order to do that? We've got the tools to manage projects, we've got the tools to manage PMOs, but do we have the tools that are necessary in order to manage these relationships? And have we been trained on these? He has the concept of that slingshot concept where it was a matter of maybe going back in the opposite direction, maybe going backwards to spend a little bit of time as far as shoring up the relationships with the team before going forward. But by going backwards, spending that extra time, you get that much more energy, that much more acceleration in order to move forward.
[00:21:31.060] - Chris
So I like that concept there. As far as that slingshot idea and the fact that he said basically when it came to implementing this approach, don't sell it, don't ask for permission, just do it, that's going to be the best way to get this done, is just be it. Just do it. And you're going to find that the team is going to respond very favorable to you being vulnerable to you as a leader, not having all of the answers to you as a leader, asking the questions and being able to make sure that everybody is on the same page and is working on the same problems together. Which brought us to the two doors that he mentioned, right? He said that if you had two doors and you could only choose one of those, one of those doors was answers only and the other was questions only. Which one would you choose? Well, the better of the two certainly is going to be questions only because that's going to put you in a much better position, get much better information, much better feedback from your teams in order to make the right decisions going forward.
[00:22:38.450] - Chris
What if you don't like that person particularly? What if their viewpoints are constantly opposite of yours? They've got very different opinions than you. Get over it. That's basically what he said, right? Because their opinion matters. Listen to them. Take it offline if necessary. It's not like you have to accept their opinion. It's not like you have to change the way that you're going to do things. But he did bring out two points, is challenge yourself on why their perspective bothers you so much. And then secondly, look at ways that you can support them, even if it's not going to ultimately let them do what they wanted to do or go in the direction that they wanted to go in. They will have been supported, they will know that they have been heard, and they will know that their opinion counts. When it came to any other advice and suggestions, he said, become a great listener and become a great learner. If you have both of those qualities as far as the way that you lead your teams, you're going to find that you're going to be very successful when it comes to running your PMO or your projects that you are running.
[00:23:46.470] - Chris
So we'd like to thank Paul again for being on today and joining us on Great Practices and sharing those insights with us. And do you have a great practice that you'd like to share? Go to thepmoleader.com click on Explore Great Practices Podcast and fill out the form at the bottom of the screen. Someone will get in touch with you shortly about being a guest on the show. Also, be sure not to miss a single episode by subscribing to Great Practices on your favorite podcast platform. And if you like what you've heard, we've had a lot of great guests and we've got lot more in the future. Be sure to share this with your manager, colleagues, and anybody else you think would benefit. Thanks again for listening today to this episode and keep putting Great Practices into practice.