Saturday, August 10, 2013

If it is the PM’s project then why isn’t the PM allowed to manage it?

Of all the questions and remarks I receive, this is by far the one I see most often. To be more direct, “What is the position title? Project what?” You see, I believe that if the title has the word “manager” in it, then the organization must hire managers. If they do not expect the person to manage, then I strongly suggest that the title be project administrator. As a matter of fact, I know of one organization that refuses to use the term Project Manager (PM).   But on the other hand, some PMs deserve to have the title of project administrator. Yes, I know there are some organizations or even some program managers who are micro-managers that are difficult to work for.
Thus, there can be many different perspectives regarding the PMs’ role and how they are viewed in an organization. What I would like to discuss is how a PM can get a feel for this organizational challenge. This can occur when a PM interviews for a position or is part of a merger or a re-org. But there may also come a time where a PM must take a hard look at him/herself in order to manage effectively.
When a PM interviews with a firm…
A PM (or any interviewee) can get a good idea of how an organization values their PM staff by the questions asked during the interview and the reaction to questions by the PM. A PM can get a sense of what the core beliefs of an organization are by the way the organization speaks to them. This is especially evident during the interview with the hiring manager. Watch how the hiring manager speaks--not just what the manager says, but how the manager says it. Watch not only the facial expressions, but also the body language. There has been many Myers-Briggs or DISC studies to distinguish the type of person the PM will be dealing with. I will not go over the published studies, but I am cautioning the PM to be aware of them and use them to distinguish how a manager will deal with the PM and the company PM community as a whole.
                        When a PM is part of a change in the organization…
Mergers and re-orgs are part of the changing landscape that a PM must deal with. With those changes, there may also be changes in how senior management deals with the PM community. In a PSO, this type of change may come every quarter. In a PMO, this change may not come as often, and presents a challenge to PMs who are used to a certain type of management. I caution and challenge every single PM reading this blog of this certainty: change is the new normal. Be prepared (as the Boy Scouts correctly state) for anything and everything. I am not suggesting there won’t be any surprises in the form of management change. That would be foolish. However, I am stating that our mentality must adjust to the new normal. And this change may take the form of how senior management deals with the PM community in that organization.
The PM must look in the mirror…
There is an old saying, “To thine own self be true.” Know yourself, and if you see that change must happen, the best place to start is with yourself. There are many organizations and personal coaches out there that can help assess your professional or personal life and provide you with sound, measureable steps to improve yourself. Or, if you believe you have all of the certifications professionally that are needed for a PM, then maybe you have to look away from a professional perspective and look to a personal one. I cannot provide a one-size-fits-all statement or belief that would satisfy every reader.  You have to take control and manage yourself. Once that happens, then you can manage others. If you show improvement, others will notice, including senior management. Once that happens, then the PM may receive more authority of the project and/or resources. Until that happens, then the PM must manage with what the PM has.
I am open to discussion at any time on these blogs or anything else related to project management you would like to explore. If you would like to comment about this blog, please do so by posting on this blog or by responding in an email at Benny A. Recine. You may inspire a blog article. I look forward to your comments.

1 comment:

  1. I would love to ask that question of my last manager. I was hired on a 6-month Project Management assignment because, as the management told me, “We don’t know how to manage projects”. However, they never let me manage the project. Additionally, they rejected any suggestions I made pertaining to the project or the plan they provided to me to manage. I only administered the project plan and then was blamed for the slippages. In this case, and as you pointed out, I believe the program manager remained too hands on. I recently blogged on delegating and invite your readers to visit that discussion in my blog: