In Part 1 of this two part series on what are basically my top four actions to incorporate into your PM behavior and persona in order to keep your team following you and respecting your leadership, I covered these first two items:
Take responsibility – take ownership of the project and outcomes and don’t throw others under the bus when issues come up. Work things out as a team and take the responsibility for the problems that have been encountered.
Be the expert – you don’t have to truly be ‘the expert’. But it is critical that you are up to speed and can handle the project, the subject matter and direct the team and customer while giving them the confidence that you understand what is happening and what needs to be done…and that you can make the important decisions when they need to be made.
In Part 2, we’ll cover the final two items on my list of four: praising the team, and being accountable.
Get used to it – the project manager may take on heaps of blame for the problems that the project encounters. There always has to be a fall guy. But the PM won’t always be the one receiving the accolades when the project is a huge success. Sure, you will get praise, but it will be spread around and it should be. And part of that is your responsibility.
If you want to be seen and acknowledged as a truly selfless leader, then make sure that every chance you get you praise the efforts of your team to executive management and the customer – preferably in front of your team members. Even if they aren’t there to witness it, they’ll likely eventually hear about most of it in the way of feedback from management and the customer. But doing it in front of them or on memos and status reports that they’re copied on gets the job done faster. And at the end of a successful project – or even a very successful phase of a project in motion – put out an in-house ‘press release’ that calls out the team members by name and identifies highly productive efforts from some or all team members that are worthy of praise and attention. Actually, if you really want to win points – call out everyone even if they didn’t put forth extraordinary effort. A win is a win and any successful project is a huge plus.
The customer is going to demand it. Your executive management team is going to – at some time or another – probably demand it as well….especially if anything is going wrong on the project. Trying to pass the buck, being passive aggressive, or aloof in your project management, cryptic in your problem resolution and reporting, or neglectful or slow in your project status reporting and management definitely does not portray you as the project leader you need to be. In fact, it makes it appear that you are actually hiding some undisclosed bad news or project issues that you are hoping to resolve quickly or you are otherwise are hoping will just ‘go away.’ They won’t, and you’ll lose every ounce of respect you’ve built up with your management and your project teams.
Conduct regular status meetings with the team and the client. Be completely transparent with the information you are reporting. When your team knows they are completely in the loop and part of the true management of the project, then they’ll take ownership, be accountable and probably follow you anywhere. And when the project customer knows that you are being completely accountable to them for everything project related and can trust you to the ends of the earth, then they will be more likely to be fully engaged throughout the project, they’ll maintain confidence in you and your project delivery team, and they’ll be much more likely to be a highly satisfied customer who will work side by side with you through the good and the bad on the project.