Project Managers: Managing the Right Way on Our Projects

project managers managing the right way on our projectsProject management is not just about experience, leadership and organization. It is also about management style, interpersonal relationships, conflict management, task delegation and communication. But I think most of us who are battle-tested realize that by now. It isn’t always about having the right technology experience or even hands-on experience, though I feel – at least for tech projects – that can, at time be very helpful and important to success.

Let’s consider the role of management types in the project leadership role and issues or concerns that can come from this…

Installing the wrong type of leaders in the PM role

When we fail to get the right people and the right skill sets in management, project management, and general leadership positions what were are doing is increasing our company’s or our project’s likelihood for failure. And we are setting individuals and teams up to fail as well. The problem is especially common in project management.

Technical people are often thing-oriented rather than people-oriented. They tend to be a little more introverted, meaning that they are oriented toward their internal world of concepts and ideas, rather than toward the external world. We find out quickly, though, that we can’t deal with people the same way we would deal with things – people are not logical, rational, and subject to mathematical analysis. We have to learn that quickly – otherwise failure in a people-oriented leadership role like project management is imminent.

Managing with the wrong style for the situation, project or team

Some managers still subscribe to an authoritarian view of management. These types of leaders often view people as unmotivated (or motivated only by money), untrustworthy, and incapable of thinking and contributing independently. Such leadership styles don’t work as parents on our children and they don’t work on our direct reports as supervisors or on our project team members as project managers.

Such views tend to be self-confirming. The manager behaves as if people are incompetent, then finds that they seem to be exactly that. What he isn’t getting is that often his expectations are driving that outcome, unfortunately. And because he believes that the employees will let him down, he never takes the risk of trusting them, which would have allowed him to find that they actually will perform quite well if given a chance. Trust, give them a chance…it will make the PM’s life and job much easier overall.

Summary / call for input

What we must do as project managers – if we hope to find success managing our projects and if we hope to have the time to dedicate to our own critical tasks – is trust. We must trust ourselves that we we’ve selected a skilled and competent team – or at least that we’ve provided enough input that our management has selected a skilled and competent team for us. And we must trust that our very talented project team members are listening and working toward the same common success goals on the project that we are. We often don’t have the time to do otherwise, though if we let resource problems go unchecked we still have no one to blame but ourselves.

What’s your take? What are we getting right and what are we getting wrong when selecting our project leaders? What is working in your organization or with your teams?

Brad Egeland
Brad Egeland

Noteworthy accomplishments:
*20 year provider of successful technical project management leadership for clients across nearly every industry imaginable
*Author of more than 4,000 expert professional project management and business strategy articles, eBooks and videos over the past decade
*Articles/professional content receives over 40,000 page views monthly
*Named #1 in the 100 Most Inspiring People in Project Management
*Named a Top 10 Project Management Influencer to Follow in 2016
*The most read author of expert project management content on Project Times/BA Times for 2015
*Named most prolific provider of project management content over the past 5 years
*Noted for successful project management and financial oversight for $50 million Dept. of Education financial contract/program
*Chosen by the Dept of Defense as a subject matter expert (SME) to help select IWMS software provider for the largest IWMS implementation ever awarded

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