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The Adventures of Dan the Project Manager Man - A New Perspective

The Adventures of Dan the Project Manager Man

A New Perspective

As a project manager it is easy to get caught up in meeting deadlines, holding status calls, ensuring tasks are completed and driving towards go live dates.  It is sometimes easier to be the driving force instead of thinking what it means to be the driven one.

Carol, my manager, asked me to get involved in a project to develop project management training material as a resource, and not as the project manager.  I accepted, thinking that I would end up managing the process more than just participating in the process.   Smugly, I attended the first meeting, found out what was needed, and marched off to do my work. There were some tasks that I committed to completing that day.

When I returned to my desk I had a call waiting on me.  I found out from an upset client that I had failed to send them a status report they needed last week.  I began working on the report but it took longer than expected, and then I had to attend a client meeting.  Several emails had come in needing a quick response.  Once the meeting was complete I replied to the emails.  Before I was done replying to the emails a colleague had stopped by to let me know that their resource allocation was not correct.

In the back of my mind I knew that I needed to complete the assigned work from the training meeting earlier in the day.  Instead of it being a task I was ready to tackle and improve upon it was now becoming a burden because of my work load. 

Before long, I looked up at the clock.  It was 4:30 – the time I normally start wrapping up the day.  The project manager from the training meeting called me to determine the status on my tasks.  I told her I hadn’t started yet, but that I would get my tasks completed before leaving.  She wasn’t happy.  She began to remind me of what it means to be a good resource, and to have good time management skills.  Because there were other tasks dependent on my tasks, she wanted my tasks completed by 5:00 at the latest.

This created a lot of stress and regret for having taken on this project.  Now I was being pushed to meet a deadline; I didn’t like the project manager’s attitude.  She was not being fair. 

And then it dawned on me.  I began to think about how I make my team members feel when a task or project is due. Do I berate them?  Do I nag them?  Do I make them feel irresponsible?  I made up my mind to always treat my team members with kindness and respect.

I soon discovered that with support and encouragement team members are much more willing to do what is required.  When I berate, the task may get completed on time; when I encourage, the resource works hard to complete the task on time.

Have you learned the benefits of renewing your perspective and creating an environment of trust and respect?

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Comment by Dan Vickers on December 7, 2011 at 11:03am

Thanks for the comments William.  I hope you are doing well.  You are correct that principled management includes providing clear, honest feedback that doesn't demean anyone's performance - and yes, doucmentation is the key.

Comment by Dan Vickers on December 7, 2011 at 11:01am

Thanks Ned.  I would like to hear your story of the big carrot and the little carrot.

Comment by William Pirkey on December 7, 2011 at 10:49am
Yes, while trying to get current work out of the resource, you need to be encouraging. However, at the project post-mortem, one cannot be afraid to point out (generally speaking--not directed at any one person or group) that a common problem was late tasks/missed suspenses. Supervisors should be made aware of the performance of their personnel. (Oh, and document it!)
Comment by Ned Robins on December 6, 2011 at 10:15am

Agree with every word - but - also a firm believer in the story of the big carrot and the little carrot.

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