Do you have the Spirit of Being a PMP Project Manager?

The following is a true story told from the viewpoint of a vendor who was implementing a technology solution in their client’s environment. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

It was the end of a 6-month software development project and we were in the throes of deploying the application across multiple locations. As one would expect, not everything was lining up perfectly and issues were beginning to surface. To help navigate through those tough times, it became necessary to implement a daily status report that was required to be submitted to the Client’s Project Manager at a certain time each day.

One day, the report was late. Twelve minutes late to be exact. A phone call was made by the vendor PM informing the Client PM that the report was running a bit behind, but that it will be there later that evening. The reason? The vendor PM was on site with the Client’s project team triaging and resolving an issue that was causing a substantial delay…an issue that ended up being a problem on the Client’s side.

No matter. The Client’s PM went up the food chain in both organizations and made a big deal out of the fact that the report was late making no mention of the reason why. This caused unnecessary escalations, took valuable time away from what was important, and strained the relationship.

Now, we’ve all had similar experiences with varying degrees of wonderment and frustration, but there are some lessons that can be learned from the fact that this particular PM missed the spirit of being a Project Manager. Below are three of them:

Don’t Get Caught Up in a Checklist Mentality

Just because a task is on a list that states that it needs to be done at a certain time, on a certain day or in a certain way doesn’t mean that it is locked in stone. All projects are living, breathing entities that ebb and flow like the tide. If you are not aware of this fact, you will push (the good) people on your team away and become relegated to nothing more than a list-checker and not a solver of business problems.

The reality is that things will never go as planned. It’s not that there is always a problem, either. Opportunities present themselves, economies of scale can be taken advantage of, or new technologies become available. Rather than unwittingly marching forward oblivious to these things, always ask if what is next on your list is still relevant and meaningful based upon the changing circumstances and priorities.

Give Your Star Performers Some Space

There are two schools of thought when it comes to the equal treatment of un-equals. Some feels that everyone must be treated exactly the same way, at all times, with no consideration of past performance, period. Others feel there is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of un-equals. I subscribe to the latter.

If you have performers on your team who have a track record of success…leave them alone. Don’t poke them with a stick. Let them use their judgment, discretion, insight, experience and wisdom to make the right decision at the right time and give them 100% support.

Focus on the End Rather than the Means

The front-line of any project can be ugly. Dates get missed, misunderstandings arise, feelings may get hurt and sometimes people lose their jobs. The front-line of any project can also be beautiful. Breakthroughs are made, friendships are forged, deliverables are inspired and there’s the sense of pride and accomplishment when the team reflects back on a job well done.

Rather than get caught up on all the details that occur on the front-line, get comfortable with the fact these things happen (the good and the bad) and it’s part of the process. All of this jostling and activity result in innovation and completion..which ultimately means the end of the project.

The Spirit of Project Management

Obtaining your PMP Certification is no small feat and something you should feel good about. However, don’t miss the spirit of being a PMP Project Manager and unwittingly relegate yourself to becoming just a checker of lists. The spirit of being a PMP Project Manager is about getting the right things done at the right time, solving business problems and bringing value to the organizations that are fortunate enough to have you on board!

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