Saturday, September 27, 2014

Why are you a Project Manager?


You may be asking why this wasn’t my first blog. I believe we had to establish a relationship before this question was asked. So, why are you a project manager (PM)? If the answer is, why not, then most likely you don’t understand the question. Allow me to elaborate; in this work world of ever changing direction, scope, and responsibilities, why would you want to put yourself right in the middle of chaos? I understand that the job market is very competitive and that even PM jobs are hard to find these days. However, many of us can work at another role, a business analyst for example, or a technician. So, why are you a PM?

Many of us like the challenging and exciting role
This is probably the most appropriate reason and I admit that this is the top reason for me. I like being a leader and I believe I am a good communicator, but the challenges and the excitement of being a PM are the most alluring for me. And like any other role, with challenges lurks the dark side of agendas. As PMs we are more vulnerable to those that don’t have our best interest at heart. As a matter of fact, sometimes there are individuals that just want to prove they are more valuable by finding fault in the PM and just about everyone else. To that end, I would encourage everyone to read Dr. Sutton’s book, “The No A**hole Rule.”  I also encourage you to read “What every body is saying” by Joe Navarro, a former FBI agent, regarding how to read body language.
Even with the criticism by individuals who revel in everybody’s failure, the excitement of being a PM can be exhilarating. I remember when I was the PM on a project that led my organization in placing our biggest client into production. The feeling was something I can’t explain in writing, but suffice it to say, it was exhilarating.
Some of us like to lead
Speaking of challenges, being a leader is one of the hardest things to accomplish. And it’s not about titles and organizational charts; it is about perception. You know when a leader walks into a room, Heads turn, people sit up, those who are speaking to others stop to listen. It’s not about power taken from interrupting someone that is speaking. A leader knows when to speak up, and most importantly, when to listen. Leaders put themselves in positions that some would consider precarious. Others would shy away from leadership positions because of the need to make decisions, and here’s the hard part, be judged on those decisions. You see, it is easier being a follower and criticizing a decision, especially when others are piling it on. Leaders are not afraid of asking for forgiveness later rather than waiting for permission. You may think I am speaking of a PM that has gone “rogue.” On the contrary, the PM is tasked to make decisions and will be judged on those decisions based on organizational policies and procedures. Sure, we all like to break the rules once in a while, as long as we can back those decisions with strong evidence that the rule was hindering progress on a project. I am not speaking of a Captain Kirk type of person, but rather a Captain Jean-Luc Picard who understands his or her underlying role and is not afraid of risks if the benefits outweigh the costs. 
Some of us are very good communicators
I have discussed communications before in previous blogs. I believe communication is the most difficult part of being a PM and is, I believe, the biggest reason for project failure. I believe the root of communication begins with clarity and value. The customer or client must understand the value of the project in clear, concise terms that they will understand. What PMs sometimes miss is that the client may not be well versed in PM speak. What the client wants to hear is that the status is green, or if yellow, how to mitigate the issues. Also, in clear terms, what are the tasks for the client. Don’t be fooled; the client has tasks, even if they are to approve a change or a document. If the client does not understand the value of the project or even the value of their decision input, then the project is doomed to fail.
In summary, I would like to know why you are a PM, now that you understand my reasons. I encourage your feedback not only to me, but to all who read this blog.
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.

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