Professional project managers would agree that project management is no easy job. There are a lot of responsibilities, functions, problem-solving, and decision-making to consider in the realm of project management.
The saying goes that project managers have all the responsibility, but none of the authority. Furthermore, project managers are held to high standards and are often seen as “the bad guy” because they are often the bearers of bad news, the ones who delegate unwanted tasks, or the ones who manage tough deadlines, schedules, and budgets. So how do project managers stay popular in the world of project management?
- Be a team leader. The way project managers go about approaching team members on difficult topics or tasks can make all the difference. How, you may ask? Be a team leader. Being a team leader is much different than being a manager. Team leaders are positive, relate to their team members, and even encourage them to be successful.For example, if you have a task to assign or delegate that no one likes, rather than approaching a team member negatively in anticipation of a conflict or some form of retaliation, you can say, “I know this isn’t the most popular or exciting task, but you would be good at handling this because…” and perhaps mention a few of the team members strengths or work ethics that might make them feel valuable and special.
- Extending bad news the positive way. As mentioned above, no one likes to be the bearer of bad news, but we all need to extend it to team members from time to time. So how do we put a positive spin on this? During team meetings or weekly email updates or conference calls, mention a number of good things, commend the teams for jobs well done, and then approach the sensitive subjects.While this may not make the news better in theory, the approach is a little more positive and will most likely generate a more positive response. You can also offer to discuss any issues or concerns offline on an individual basis, if needed. This will make team members feel like they can approach you and discuss issues with you. This is a great way to promote the “open door policy”. Remember, conflict can be a good thing.
- Decision-making and problem-solving. Decision-making and problem-solving are probably two of the toughest areas in project management. These are two situations that are often tense and emotional and those involved are often in panic mode. However, the project manager’s ability and method of addressing them is often what matters more than the solution itself.For example, if you respond to colleagues, customers, or team members with the same panic or emotion, then not only does this not solve the issue(s) at hand, but it is also not effective. So it’s not so much what the solution is, but more often than not, how it is handled.
All in all, while project management isn’t the most popular role, you can be a popular project manager by having a unique outlook, a positive and professional personality, and being a team leader. Most will commend you for having such a great attitude which will improve your overall popularity. While project management certainly isn’t a popularity contest, it will be easier to do your job, it will be easier to work with others, and as a result, others will enjoy and look forward to working with you.