If you can do something about it, why complain. If you can’t do anything about it, stop complaining. Let others do something about it.
In a project management training:
The Trainer: it’s absurd to think a project will solve all sector’s problem.
A participant (in awe): it’s like marriage!
Whenever a difficult project gets in or a simple project becomes complicated, I remember what was the key to making cake mixes successful. It was about taking the eggs and milk out of the cake mix, so that the maker can claim it as his/her own through effort and time invested.
Meaning + effort = happiness & productivity.
In the projects world, we usualy get adults as clients. Regardless of the age, you might experience a client tantrum.
They want it their way. They are noisy about it. They unnecessarily attract attention.
The first time i experienced it, it was scary. A deputy prime minister wanted it his way. He is running for president of a country now, by the way.
What can a project manager do? There is no universal soothing formula as clients are as different as the stars on the sky. I personally love reading about parenting and child growth, which offer great inspiration for kids and adults alike.
So, here are steps to take when the client has a tantrum:
Seat back and take a deep slow breath.
Scan your body for any tension.
Say confidently and softly: “I thank you for your concern for the project. I see you are upset right now and it feels for you good to shout/hit the table/kick the wall (depending on what they do). It’s your project and i am managing it to get the best possible results for you. I am here for you and the project’.
If the shouting/kicking continue, repeat. It’s also an advice found in boundary setting psychology literature.
If it does not work, here is a joke one of consultants i work with told me in a similar situation. A poster in a designer office said:
Design – 100 Euro
Design with you looking over my shoulder – 200 Euro
Design with you looking over my shoulder and telling me how to do it – 300 Euro
Design with you looking over my shoulder, telling me how to do it and me doing it – 400 Euro
Design by you at my computer – 500 Euro”,
I became a project manager by accident. Quite an intro, i can hear you say. Bear with me. More than a decade ago, the only opening at an organisation i wanted to work for was mysteriously called ‘project manager’. I applied, successfully passed the competition and they offered me the job. I hardly realised back then what the job is about and what to expect. I was all smiles on my first day at the new job. The organisation did its best, but it was also new and in the process of organising itself and the newly arrived team. I continued to put on a brave face. Very soon an avalanche of a multi million Euro projects portfolio, i was supposed to “manage”, challenged my smile with a smirk: “Let’s see your talents now”. Needless to say that as soon as my previous employer got back to me, I returned to the job i felt comfortable at.
In time, project management became a professionally delightful, although accidental, love. This perspective made me cherish my first experiences. I wish back then i had a mentor or coach to talk to, a source of info which would explain the tips and tricks of the trade, a network of beginners who faced the same “smirking face”. This blog is inspired by my younger self and the every day learner i am aspiring to be.
The kings and queens of project management will find this blog boring, and they are always welcome to share a tip or two. “Tips are like hugs, without the awkward body contact” I once read next to a tips box in a Juice Bar in an airport. So are the tips on this blog. Sometimes they are just my two cents :). Anyway, let’s get tipping for a delightful project management experience!