Management Tips

Is using FEAR any way to manage a Project?

Why are Project Managers hated so DAMN much?

  • Is it because of Gantt Charts and ridiculous schedules that don’t make sense?
  • Is it because they are consistently seen as micro-managers who make you feel like you’re a tool?
  • Is it because they wear suits and ties a lot?
  • Is it because they walk around telling people what to do all the time?
  • Is it because they only come to see you when they want something?

(And you know they are going to make your life miserable with their last minute requests.)

  • Is it because they are controlling?
  • Is it because they are always bottom line driven?
  • Is it because they commoditize resources?
  • Is it because they talk too much?
  • Is it because even though they want your opinion they just don’t listen?

Is it ALL OF THE ABOVE?

There are a lot of reasons not to hate them too, you know. I just can’t think of any right now and I AM a project manager. CRAP!

There’s a reason for that which I will get to.

Before I do you have to remember that Project Managers are people too. They are just known as the slimiest, what just crawled out from under that rock, scary, unfriendly, single-minded and narcissistic type of people.

Hard truth, huh?

No but really, all kidding aside, it really does take a certain breed to fit the stereotypical Project Manager typology. You know, that data focussed, highly commoditized, bottom line driven mindset.  Not really a very friendly description, is it?

So what makes a good Project Manager these days or is there even such a thing?

A good Project Manager is someone that is not seen as a Project Manager the same way that a Stealth Bomber is not seen by radar. Lethal and invisible. Well, maybe not such a good analogy but it beats the other silent and lethal analogy but then again I have heard Project Managers being referred to as farts especially if they are older. That old fart is making my life miserable. Ouch. What the….

Get back on point, mister.

The point is that the old school traits and methods of Project Management are just not good enough anymore (if they ever were). After all, when you boil the pot dry a Project Manager is really a leader and if you are going to like and trust your Project Manager they are going to have to be able to lead. A person, who can remain humble and who has the understanding and ability to elevate the members of his team, has the essence of a good leader. After all it’s the team that make up the sum of its parts and it’s those parts that get the job done. The Project Manager’s job it to make sure the team reaches its goal, that’s it! Another updated Gantt chart, unrealistic deliverable or overbearing unfathomable time sucking make work task won’t help in rallying the collective battle cry.

The data driven Project Manager is dead.

Just like 40 is the new 20 or different is the new black, the Project Manager who wants to find success, where success is partly defined by the number of likes he might get by his actions, is one that understands the human side of ability. Understanding that personal interaction is an asset, being able to listen, act as a colleague, understand that he is fallible, being humble, patient and most of all cool are all attributes of a person who fits the new mould of modern day, real world, practical, results driven project management.

It’s not a title. It’s a part of the job in a team.

So, now you don’t have to hate them SO DAMN MUCH anymore.

The new school of Project Management is built on simplicity, moderation and nuance all playing into a deeper understanding of the needs of the project. The ability to see beyond the schedule, resource allocation and commodities that make up the fundamentals of the basic project delivery model take us to that place where a holistic overview and sensitivity to the needs of the team and the clear understanding of the objectives and true goals of the project define the key drivers to success.

As I look for the tools to make this happen I am lead to the fundamentals of soft skills; attitude, communication, mentorship, interpersonal relationship, time management and empowerment to name a few. As such, a deep antithesis to the standards of old school Project Management practices. Of course, you still need a schedule, critical path and a good understanding of your resource needs but understanding people is the underpinning that makes for a good Project Management foundation.

The structure that surround the core skills of a Project Manager are there to elevate the team and encourage sound planning to ensure the configuration of the processes for successful delivery remain flexible and are able to adapt to change.

That’s basically it.

 Flexible. Encouraging. Adaptable. Realistic.

F.E.A.R.

Am I joking? Not on your life.

Well kinda. The acronym is a joke but the words are not.

 

Do you have any suggestions that would help us become better Project Managers?

What Project Management tips do you have to share that really work for you?

Do you know any FEAR-ful project managers?

About this Author: Ralph Dopping (195 Posts)

A quirky sense-o-humour coupled with an indelible sense of stylish sarcasm makes it difficult to take the world too seriously doesn't it? My faves: fun, passion and hard work. I work here everyday: www.designdialog.ca


6 comments
Hajra
Hajra

I worked with a Project Manager for about a year and yes, I hated him! Not only was he rude and egoistic, he never had a sense of time! But yes, I learnt he was using fear to make us work. For some reason, we all feared him and when we had to go in for a meeting; we all dreaded what was to come. I think fear isn't something that should be used here; what happened was even we he asked for opinions, we ended up giving him crappy ones because we knew he wouldn't take it. But I think it is more individualistic, just because one of them is bad, doesn't mean all are like that. It maybe his personal nature that makes him that kind of person. I refuse to believe a profession can make such a devil out of you ;)

Bill Black
Bill Black

Met a few of all types in my time - It is not just Project management it is also Team Management and many miss that. In line with my favourite subject (IPD) I wish the PM would realize their role as "Integrator" more as I believe that is where the essence of project/team management - certainly all the good ones I have met seem to have applied that.

rdopping
rdopping

Hajra, thank you for your comment. FEAR was meant to be a tongue-in-cheek acronym for some real positive methods that I hope that I can employ in my work. I think you got that and I thank you for your comments. You seem to be wonderfully devilish yourself ;-) It is very nice to have met you. Here's to social media and to effective, people centric and real project management.

rdopping
rdopping

Thanks Bill, one thing I may need to do is read The Commercial Real Estate Revolution again. Team management is a big deal, I agree and cannot be overlooked. That's the point really and thank you for highlighting it. Interested to hear more on Integrated Project Delvery from you. It is certainly an interesting model for collaboration and certainly dovetails nicely into the ideas that I hope to instill in my own thinking and the teams I am involved with. It seems that no matter the system the role and value of the PM is less than opaque. Even the model at the http://www.ipd-ca.net/ doesn't define the PM as a team member unless they are considered the Agency or are likely the Contractor (the example I studied is an American model - California). Yes, just one example, I know. The line of thinking is, as we know, very non-traditional, in the A+D world so it will be interesting to see how it plays out over time. Likely P3 and Design Build are meant to follow this type of model and since my visibility and participation on these types of projects has been limited I find it difficult to argue for or against. The one thing that is for sure is that as a rule a collaborative attitude yeilds better results.

Hajra
Hajra

I did get that; I just had a very bad time working with THAT project manager, so I vented :( Here's to effective social media!

rdopping
rdopping

Venting is good. And, yes, here's to effective social media. Have a great weekend.