– Hi! Where are you?
– at work.
– what are you doing?
– seating behind my desk.
If a project manager is at the answering end in this dialogue, i would become worried.
Projects lives are outside project manager’s office. A site to inspect. A group of people to meet. A team’s office to go to. We live in an era where more and more project work is done long distance – by e-mail or by phone, or “on remote control”, as i call them. A project manager cannot really barge into the team’s room, when located miles away. Unless he/she has super powers to get there in a blink of an eye or can teleport the team.
In today’s globalisation, “relationship building, paradoxically, becomes more crucial than ever”, the authors of the “The New Leaders” book believe. Since working on remote control projects, my awareness of it became even more acute. I am on email at least 75% of time. When signs of potential misunderstandings arise, i pick up the phone or call for a skype call.
I also have created a tradition of “Friday Delight”. It is an exchange by email with members of the team on a variety of issues of common interest, for example, highlights of a training they went on. Or i just ask them to send to all their favourte tune of the week, inspired by Taylor “The Project manager who smiles”. It’s a good indicator of their mood, usually. Through Friday Delight, we also learn about team members’ important life events, such as marriage for instance. I found that it builds a sense of rapport. If for some weeks i do not initiate an email with ” Friday Delight ” in the subject line, i get messages from members of the team reading ” i miss Friday Delight”.
Stay close. Build relations. Enjoy it together.
According to this article, the four types of project managers are:
The audience of the article is top executives.The article claims any organisation would need a few of each to identity and pursue growth opportunities and that it is the executives duties to identify the right type of project managers for the types of projects to be implemented.
I do not like categories and i am biased when it comes to project managers categories (clearly! exclaims my professional pride). Thanks to Daniel Kahneman (“Thinking, fast and slow” book) i understand that it is a psychological fact – to judge and categorise. It has to do with human brain biases. Putting aside my initial reaction to categories, after having read the description of the four types i realised that i a might be mutating as a project manager. I can be any and all at the same time. Almost a self-proclaimed Wonder Project Manager (you get the self-ironic tone here).
Reading it from the project manager’s perspective, the article gives ammunition to project managers when in a position to ask for a particular project to be assigned to them. Enjoy reading and enjoy managing your projects with the best of your skills!
The 4 Types of Project Manager
At my last medical check-up the doctor asked me to rate my level of stress from 1 to 10. It was a 5 for me.
Projects dynamics create premisses for stress. Self-management, team-management, stakeholders management, deadlines, milestones, critical paths bring presure and be inheritely stressful. It is a project manager’s job to monitor his/her own level of stress and the level of stress of team members to identify signs of burn-out and look for preventive remedies.
This requires a number of emotional inteligence competences and extra care. For inspiration, i read The New Leaders: Transforming the Art of Leadership by Daniel Goleman, Richard E. Boyatzis, Annie McKee.
When stress is unavoidable and it becomes part of daily work life, you can find here useful advice provided by Rebecca Knight, in Harvard Business Review, 7 August 2017.
https://hbr.org/2017/08/how-to-work-with-someone-whos-always-stressed-out with some Do and Don’t.
Slow down. Manage with care.
Listen to Imany:
“Thank you. It is the first time someone asks about our experience with the new processes”. I still remember the voice of the regional branch director i heard about ten years ago.
The project was a simple deal to the project team in the bank’s head office: design, test, launch. As the launch was done in all regional branches, i anticipated animosities. I had no clue of the kind to expect, as the product was new and the processes – run in a change management environment. My risks mitigation strategy was simple: a feedback form and a call line for the branches to give their immediate feedback. As a result IT, client communication and staff learning issues were signaled on time and the project team was able to deal with them efficiently. At the receiving end, the customers felt no bumps and continued their business as usual.
Creating a framework for feedback is also a reliable tool for the project manager to address low or mediocre performance in the project team. When facing a confused or angry user at a phone call or email distance, team members tend to understand better how much depends on how well they do their job.
If of interest, you can read more on this here https://hbr.org/2017/04/what-to-do-about-mediocrity-on-your-team?utm_campaign=hbr&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social.
Listen. Learn. Give back. And repeat.
Who loves logframes? I do not.
Several years ago I was drafting a logframe for a 2,5 million Euro project. I puffed and huffed over it for couple of days. It would not make progress. It was still an empty table. Then I realised that disliking it, cost me more. More time, more effort, more energy.
I came across this article these days:
How to Get Excited About Topics that Bore You, by Barbara Oakley,
A useful reading on how to overcome the boredom or the feeling of discomfort towards something that is necessary to be done.
The story of the logframe has a happy ending: the project was approved and successfully implemented. Keeping my mind on the long-term perspective was indeed beneficial.
– She did not like the tone of your email, said my boss, referring to a consultant on the team.
I was shocked to hear that. I went back to my email. I re-read it. Had others read it. Back then, I did not realise it was about the way the receiver reads it and about the environment/stage she was at that time.
This knowledge came to me couple of years latter at an emotional intelligence training. When the trainer guided me to a research by Daniel Goleman: “we tend to misinterpret positive email messages as more neutral, and neutral ones as more negative, than the sender intended. Even jokes are rated as less funny by recipients than by senders”.
This is important to pay attention to especially in remote-control project management, where you cannot pop-in the teams offices and where most of communication is by email. To prevent and/or overcome eventual misunderstandings, I aspire to practice face-to-face or Skype or video-conference contacts on a regular or just spontaneous basis.
If you are interested, here is a reference to the above mentioned research http://www.danielgoleman.info/email-with-care/