The Good (and Bad) News about PMP Project Managers

One of our goals as a Project Management Professional is to bring value to our organizations through the delivery of successful projects. As such, we are mindful of upper management and/or Client’s expectations and perceptions of how things are going. What about your project team? Are you as mindful of how they perceive the project is going as well the role you play as a PMP Certified Project Manager?

You should be for two reasons: First, having this insight will help you know what you are doing that is working and to continue doing those things. Second, having this insight will help you know what you are doing that is NOT working (even though you may think it is) and stop doing those things.

Some may consider it intimidating to ask their teams about what they like or don’t like about how the project is being managed, so we’ve done that for you. The following is a summary of questions we asked various project team members about the upside and downside of working with Project Managers.

What are Some of the Ways Project Managers Help You?

PMs See The Big Picture: Most team members we interviewed feel that a Project Manager can bring value by seeing and communicating the big picture. This ranges from those who are working on the foundation of a high-rise building to those who develop code. These resources are all heads down on the task at hand and don’t have the luxury of looking around to see where others stand. It is of great value to them to have someone connect the dots and maneuver the pieces of the puzzle into place.

NOTE: See the Resources section in the right sidebar for an insightful article from Jennifer Kahnweiler, Ph.D. that can help you see the Big Picture by actually being less focused as a Project Manager.

Run Interference: We all work in the mode of constant disruption. The phone rings, people stop by our office, and last minute meetings pop-up. It always seems that the next crisis is right around the corner. Some people like working in that type of environment, others don’t…especially project team members.

Do you want to bring real value (and efficiency) to your team? Run interference when it comes to these disruptions. Give your team hour after hour after hour of uninterrupted time to work. Clients and other departments need to work through you, meetings need to be scheduled through you, and you need to determine if a crisis is really a crisis before getting your people involved and pulling them off the task at hand.

Know Something about Everything: Everyone knows it’s impossible to know everything about everything, but as a Project Manager you can bring great value to your team by at least knowing “something” about everything. You don’t need to know every detail to the n-th degree on a project, but you do need to know that the n-th degree is happening somewhere. This will allow you to bring people together, minimize redundant work efforts and keep things moving forward.

What are Some Things Project Managers Do That May Get In Your Way?

Act as Nothing More than a Personal Assistant: We’ve all seen Project Managers that feel their ONLY role is to schedule meetings, take minutes, and forward e-mails. No more, no less. If you find yourself acting as the human version of Microsoft Outlook, STOP…immediately! Seeing the Big Picture, Running Interference, and Knowing Something about Everything are all activities that require action, interaction, reaction and effort. This cannot effectively be done by hiding behind a keyboard and monitor.

Schedule Too Many UNECESSARY Meetings: Everyone knows that’s what Project Managers do, right? If there’s a question…we need to schedule a meeting. If there’s a problem…we need to schedule a meeting. If there’s a «fill in the blank» …we need to schedule a meeting. Project Managers have the reputation of scheduling a lot of meetings. Many are legitimate, others are not. Many include just the right amount of people, others do not.

Team members understand that meetings need to occur to work through issues and keep everyone on the same page. It’s the UNECESSARY part that is the problem. Be judicious in the number of meetings you schedule, be selective in who you invite to these meetings, and be conscious of keeping these meetings as short and productive as possible.

Ask Your Team

It is important to be mindful of what you are doing and how things are perceived by Clients and upper management. It is also just as important to not lose sight of how your project team views how you operate…and whether you are helping them, or perhaps getting in their way. Ask your team if you want the real information in your specific situation. You will be pleasantly surprised and that much more effective when you understand how you are viewed as a PMP Project Manager by those you manage.

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