Harnessing Generational Challenges for Effective Project Management #PMOSym

PMO Symposium, 11-14 November 2018, Washington D.C. USA

Session Description: Wow! Five generations in the workforce: iGen or Generation Z, Millenniels (aka Generation Y), Gen X, Baby Boomers, and Traditionalists (those born before 1945). Project managers will need to communicate, understand, and motivate their core/extended teams capitalizing the workforce. This is a skillset that can be developed via learning and adoptive practice. Join Brigid Buchheit Carney as she uses Senn Delaney’s behavioral styles and Knoster’s Managing Complex Change. Senn Delaney, like DISC, will teach participants about behavioral styles and how to flex to others. The Knoster model will teach participants how to develop a communication framework for success.

At the conclusion of this session, participants will be able to:
1) Solve tough behavioral challenges by better understanding team dynamics.
2) Shift beyond traditional leadership by using a framework for communications.
3) Predict communication breakdowns and resolve them.

Speaker:  Brigid Buchheit Carney is the head of operations at Argus Group in Hamilton, Bermuda.

[These are my notes from the PMO Symposium 2018 . I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, so they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]


  • Why focus on generational challenges and behavioral styles?  Your projects will involve people from five different generations. Each of these team members also has their unique behavioral style. You need to craft your approach and messages for each generation and each style.
  • The Generations.
    • Traditionalists — born before 1945
    • Baby Boomers
    • Gen X
    • Millennials (Gen Y)
    • iGen (Gen Z)
  • Knoster Model for Managing Complex Change. Designed to develop organizational awareness and understand why projects fail. If you are missing any of the following elements, you will run the risk of failure.
    • Vision –Do you understand what you need to do AND why you need to do it? If you don’t understand why you are doing something, you end up in confusion, falling short of your goals.
    • Consensus — with five generational styles, you need five different ways to build consensus. Without consensus, you have sabotage and blame.
    • Skills — an absence of skills leads to anxiety
    • Incentives — an absence of appropriate incentives leads to resistance
    • Resources — an absence of adequate resources (including time for development, planning, reflection) leads to frustration
    • Action Plan — an absence leads to false starts and the sense of being on a treadmill
    • Culture = the way we do things
    • For more information on the Knoster Model, see
  • Senn Delaney Behavioral Styles.
    • Conductor
      • They are Type A and do not like to be told what to do
      • They strong-willed, self-motivated, results-focused
      • When crafting messages for them, focus on
        • results
        • decisions
        • efficiency
    • Promoter
      • They are enthusiastic, energetic, persuasive, adventurous, creative
      • They like shiny objects and hte next big thing. It is very difficult to get them to focus. However, they are really helpful when you need to deliver a difficult message.
      • They are happy to help others.
      • You have to help them keep their focus.
      • When crafting messages for them, focus on
        • big pictre thinking
    • Analyzer
      • Give them data, don’t ask them to go with their gut.
      • They will do things to the best of their ability. They know they are better at things then others.
      • Crafting messages
        • researchers
        • 2+2=4
        • Facts and figures
    • Supporter
      • They are relationship-oriented, team players, consensus builders
      • They will always ask for help.
      • When crafting messages for them, focus on
        • decision by committee
        • last to speak
        • subject mattter experts
        • speak face-to-face, but start with social conversation before jumping into the heart of the matter.
  • Exercises that appeal to each style.
    • Controlling
      • Mini-PM RAID log boss (RAID = Risks, Assumptions, Issues, Dependencies)
      • Don’t to a “ra ra” activity
    • Analyzing
      • Yes…and… exercise
      • Time-boxing — this avoids analysis paralysis
      • Five Whys
    • Supporting
      • Affinity brainstorming
      • Polling
      • Telephone — ask this supporter to be your communication maven
    • Promoting