READ TIME: 5 minutes
It is week six of my exploration into the question, “What is a project manager?” In previous weeks, I discussed all of the ‘P,’ ‘R,’ ‘O,’ ‘J,’ and ‘E’ nouns used to describe a project manager.
This week, ‘C’ nouns will be discussed. Again, this discussion does not encompass all that a project manager can be, but it delves into the core and creates discussion.
Let’s get started with part six.
A calibrator is an equipment used to adjust an instrument accuracy often associated with a particular application. In this case, project management is the application.
Best practices are an idea I frequently criticize. These methods need to calibrated often to stay ahead of the curve rather than reacting to the latest information. A project manager should continue his or her education to remain proactive and tweak any practices in need.
For instance, if tracking a project becomes an issue, adjust the system to make it easier for both field and office personnel. A confusing system becomes frustrating for both parties and ends up not getting used. The misuse leads to performing work without getting paid or being underpaid for quantities you produced yet do not have the evidence to support.
The success of a project boils down to making money. If it makes money, success. If it loses money, fail. Being a capitalist keeps this simple equation in the spotlight. Decisions are made based on money. Can you perform this extra work outside of the scope that might delay the project? It is possible depending on the multiple applied to the additional work.
In construction, time and materials work ends up being 1.5x the original bid price. Extra work comes in around that same multiplier. Is this advantage worth the time? A project manager needs to decide the impact and judge accordingly.
An ideal scenario is a project not only lines the pockets of the contractors involved but also benefits the public. The capitalist side of a project manager may lean more towards lining the pockets than helping the greater whole.
Does managing a team ever feel like a dance to you? When things are running smoothly, there is a rhythm. Missteps occur then the entire operation is impacted. Like a dance, these parts have steps to them. Before you can run, you crawl.
The Project Management Book of Knowledge is arranged in a particular order to ensure the greatest odds to succeed. These steps are in place for a reason. You can improvise within the steps themselves, but skipping them leads to risks.
The domains and knowledge areas go from left to right, top to bottom. Performing these steps requires choreography from the project manager. Because you have intimate knowledge of each step, you can lead your team through them and cover all bases of the project.
In the end, your dance ends up being a successful project. Of course, there will be hiccups. People will not hit their spots each and every time, but the overall impact will be positive.
Instead of always teaching and giving knowledge, being a classmate allows you to learn. To sit back and take notes gathering new information to become a better teacher. This idea goes back to continuing your education and not being afraid to learn new things.
Feeling stupid is scary. You have probably worked hard at your job and become an authority in the space, whether in your organization or a further outreach. This comfort zone atrophies those muscles that got you where you are today. Becoming a student feels like a step back. School was years ago. Most people have moved beyond the classroom environment.
Reverse those roles and become a sponge for information. Everyone is a source for learning. It does not have to be project management related either. Learn a new hobby, something new about a team member, or try a new food. It might not make sense at the time, but those new skills and experiences will pay off.
Project managers and teams almost always work together. Projects run in congruence, so resources are regularly needed. If a person is running out of work on one project, I am positive that individual could be used elsewhere.
The same could be said for equipment. If projects are located within a reasonable distance, equipment can be shared amongst teams. Rain days are an issue in construction. Some functions can be performed in the rain while other projects may be shut down. These instances are perfect for swapping out equipment to help make both projects run smoother.
Collaborating brings about creativity. New ideas get spread through sharing. You start to find newer ways to do things. With this new knowledge, you become a better project manager and maybe help others in the process.
Project managers need to create. Whether it be a document for the team or a sponsor, creating is always happening. Ideas are shared then spread to expand the organization’s brand or outreach. Products are developed to increase awareness and lead to sales.
Creation is at the heart of project management. Clients remain happy when you create something that satisfies their requirements. This production leads to more creations. Eventually, you have a customer for life because you have established your ability to create.
No matter the industry, creating is important. Marketers need to create content to the products their organizations created. Construction is creating something out of raw materials. Developers are always trying to create the next big thing that all users need to have. Project managers are the lead on most of these teams.
Being critical not only of others but also yourself is an essential skill. Placing blame becomes easy. Because so and so did not do this or that, the project failed. You review your team and become very critical of every misstep along the project. When it comes to looking inward, we become lackadaisical.
It was not my fault this project failed because… (fill in the blank with another excuse).
Sometimes, people are too critical of themselves. Things can happen. Mistakes are made. It is our response that determines the outcome. When it comes to criticism, moderation is necessary. Consistently beating down without building up only frustrates those around you. Repeatedly building up without criticism leads to a distorted view of one’s performance and ability.
Project managers are a multitude of roles packed into one. Throughout this discussion, many of the responsibilities have been labeled. This new crop of nouns gives further insight as to the role a project manager plays within a team and organization.
A key role from this section is classmate. Taking knowledge you already have and applying the latest information to that foundation. Learning new skills and techniques is a powerful way to encourage others to do it as well as better lead your team.
What are some of the other 'C' nouns used to describe a project manager?