How Lonely Is the Project Manager?
By Vineet Guliani
If the title reminds you of a melancholic song of the 60′s or The Lone Ranger movie of 30′s, this is something that project managers deal with on a very regular basis in the 2010′s, no pun intended.
What many new/aspiring project managers do not realize is, that project management is actually a lonely job.
As organizations evolve and move towards matrix structures (weak/strong/balanced), PMO and generalized project managers are becoming more and more common.
Project Managers, more and more are moving into formations where they do not have a team to call their own. Resource managers own teams. Project Managers build one for the duration of the project, and then the team members go back to their teams at the end of the project.
So, the camaraderie that exists amongst the technical team members is something project managers do not get to enjoy.
This situation has been further exacerbated by outsourcing and off-shoring where a project manager may be managing a team of techies geographically located 1000′s of miles away in a different time zone and in a totally different cultural setup.
People transitioning from a developer or technical lead role to a project manager feel this phenomenon more than any other group of people moving into project management.
So, the question is how to deal with this situation?
Here are some suggestions:
- Find friends amongst the PMO. Share ideas, problems, situations and try to collectively build a school of thought. Helps the organization, helps the project managers.
- Create and deploy a knowledge sharing center. Share the wealth of knowledge, tips and tricks that a project managers gains on job with resource managers. Resource managers and project manager can gain a lot from each others experience, perspective and insights about various stakeholders like functional managers, matrix managers, 3rd party vendors etc… and can utilize this information towards future project success.
- Find motivation in evolution. Evolve, improve and drive for superiority. Beat yourself at it. Not an easy task to do, but remember the Chinese civilization. They invented some things uniquely advanced because they did not know if another civilization like them existed somewhere else and if it was more advanced than them.
- Build tools, fix processes to drive efficiency into project delivery.
- Explore being the big brother (or sister). Mentor young enthusiasts. I would rather suggest, not only mentor the younger energetic team members but also the senior and nerdiest ones on project management. Sharing project management perspective with highly technical and perfectionist minds not only makes them more aligned to organizational priorities but also helps them find the right mix between their quest for perfection and project ROI.
- At the end, remember that the project manager is the glue that binds together a successful project team.
Vineet Guliani, PMP is a senior Project Manager in Toronto, Canada. You can read more from Vineet on his professional blog, http://vineetguliani.wordpress.com/.