Learn to get ahead and thrive, not just survive
As the project or programme manager (PM) you inspire your team. You work hard and keep the project on track. Without you it would all fold and crash right? Yes, that’s the reality for PM’s. What are you responsible for? Every damn thing! So why doesn’t everyone else get it?
You are often held to account if it goes wrong. An ordeal when you have team members and suppliers letting you and the project down. What are you managing? Not much. Generally, People, suppliers, budget, timescales, deliverables, stakeholders, quality, documentation, reports, meetings, teamwork, contracts, revenue, equipment, technology, concepts, behaviour, matrix resources, expectations, risk, issues … and more.
Ok, I am biased but to me you are a hero. Seriously, who else has that list of responsibilities to manage and be on the hook for? As an example a director is responsible for say HR, Operations etc. You have many more area’s you are accountable for. With statistics shown in the visual below, it is not surprising you may feel like its survival than thriving, as a PM.
Statistic courtesy of KPMG
You are a great project manager. You know it. Your client and stakeholders piss you off and just don’t get it. You work hard day and night (well at least the odd late night) to keep your project on the rails. You wonder why you even bother. Where do you turn for help?
Few managers, stakeholders or peers have the answers or time to help and support you. But there is hope! It doesn’t include praying, winning the lotto or eliminating all the stakeholders in a gruesome way, however tempting that may seem.
I had the very same issue with a project myself. The wrong internal stakeholder driving the project, making incorrect decisions based on gossip, making changes on a whim or rumour, not fact. Unreasonable clients who just want to change a few deliverables, every week! Lack of contracts and document sign off. Lack of support and resource, despite being promised they will all be available, as per the schedule. Heard it all before?
Imagine the scenario. Sales have over promised. IT didn’t have the budget or too busy to order what kit we needed to do the job. Test team had no spare capacity to schedule in all the UAT testing we had planned. Sound familiar? Luckily I managed to revisit the plan and re-organise after visiting my coach. I told management when they would get the rescheduled project delivered and why. This well-argued position bought us more time and budget to complete the project properly. Disasters averted and reputation intact. Thanks to help from my coach.
Thinking back, small things start to go wrong. A key resource goes off sick – irreplaceable, you are now told. News to you. Supplier late delivering key equipment and cannot be trusted to give you an accurate delivery date. Client changes their mind about the specification! And thinks he is being reasonable to ask for a design change half way through final testing. Resource manager takes your best developer and analyst off for another project. Of course, a director just demanded his new client project needs your key scarce resources more than you at a crucial stage!
Team members don’t show up for key meetings, always the people you need to answer important questions. Who do you want to strangle right now? Let’s make a list. The list is big enough for you to consider it a key task on the gantt chart. You capitulate on strangulation of those on the list, only because it will cause more resource problems.
Seriously, why do people assigned to projects not understand what they need to do despite being on projects previously? Ignorance? Bloody-mindedness? Stupidity? Despite being told what to do with written instructions outlining the goals, timescale and requirements. Nodding your head in agreement yet?
So, what choices do you have to stay sane and deliver a project with your name all over it? Talk to your busy boss? Nah, he is one of them making it hard to deliver the project. Appeal to the team to work the weekend and get ‘that’ look! No, that would result in a mutiny. Work more hours yourself? You already work 55 hours a week and take work home!
The answer is get yourself some coaching, to help you take control, set achievable goals and keep yourself from pulling your hair out, assuming you still have hair. Talking through the issues and challenges helps you see it in a different light. Gives you strength and belief to succeed, after suffering already from the pressure. Talking to someone who fully understands and has been there before.
These discussions don’t work down the pub with a mate or team members, as they either don’t understand or may have their own agenda. A coach will motivate you to stay on track with your goals, focus on priorities, manage upwards, help understand what the key objectives are and support you in being successful for the whole journey. The investment in a coach will last a lifetime and keep you from running naked through the accounts department in a state of madness screaming gibberish about missed milestone sign offs!
My phone number, website and email address is shown below, stay sane by contacting me for a chat or set up a coaching session now. Before the men in white coats come knocking on your door to take you away.
You can book coaching sessions for yourself and for the team. This can be arranged for yourself as a personal career benefit or a service your organisation provides as a benefit to staff members. Be happy, victorious, find your spirit and be courageous. I look forward to talking to you soon.
Phil Lyon is director and coach for Moretolifecoaching.com
Contact: 07590 590171