Project Practitioners > What is a P.R.O.J.E.C.T. Manager? Part 7 of 7

What is a P.R.O.J.E.C.T. Manager? Part 7 of 7

By Chris Cook, PMP

READ TIME: 4 minutes


It is the final week of my exploration into the question, “What is a project manager?” In previous weeks, I discussed all of the ‘P,’ ‘R,’ ‘O,’ ‘J,’ ‘E,’ and ‘C’ nouns used to describe a project manager.


This week, ‘T’ 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 seven.



I do not mean this word in the traditional sense of being mean, overloading your resources, and micromanaging. Project managers are detail oriented putting emphasis on scope, schedule, and budget. A taskmaster does not lose focus on the important details.


To-do lists become relied on to ensure the right tasks are being done at the correct times. ‘Why?’ is an important question in determining priority.


A taskmaster can be compared to a ringleader at a circus. You ensure the events continue in the order presented, and everyone leaves a happy customer.



The teacher is an obvious role of a project manager but needs to be stated. Teachers research the latest news in their field to deliver an updated message to their students. Even if you are a history teacher, there are always new findings that lead to new discoveries.


The same goes for a project manager. Learning the latest news helps your organization and team stay proactive. Passing the news onto people who can benefit creates a learning environment. In the world of teaching, being a student is required. This role reversal helps the teacher learn how to deliver an effective message.


Seeing both sides of the teacher/student interaction allows a project manager to more effectively deliver a message to the team that is translated easily and can be performed. There is a cycle in delivering a message that includes feedback. If a teacher does not respect this feedback loop, communication becomes one-sided and ineffective.



Being at the head of the table can cloud an individual’s perspective. This scenario leads to ‘my way or the highway’ style leadership in that you listen because of my job title. As a teammate, all suggestions are viable, and the project manager gets on the same level as the team.


Instead of talking top-down management, you are communicating laterally to your team. They understand the message clearer when it is presented to them in a digestible manner. A forwarded email from your boss to your team gets stuffed away in a folder or deleted. A personal message from you relaying this information creates a better understanding for your team.



Killing ideas quickly should be a focus for project managers. Your team should try to kill ideas at every angle. Ask questions to narrow further any issues that may arise with the project. If the project or idea survives all killing attempts, the idea is formidable.


This terminating aspect of a project manager helps to save time and resources that can be better used elsewhere. No one likes wasting time as it usually comes with a cost. Seek and destroy bad ideas. Poke holes in arguments whenever possible. A terminator is problem seeking.


A terminator can also refer to a deal or project closer. Getting the project signed off on means the client is happy with the result and willing to complete the project officially. Signing the contract or closing a sale ensures work for your organization and may lead to better opportunities for yourself.



Team members will not like the direction of a project. Two or more individuals will not like each other. Senior management and stakeholders will have differing opinions. People will bring their struggles outside of work to work. All of these scenarios are very likely throughout the duration of a project.


Enter your therapist role. You will have to listen, give feedback, and attempt to problem solve while leading the project to success. Part of keeping a team performing at a high level is to create chemistry. Each role supports the other. A team of all superstars does not necessarily make the best team.


As a therapist, you have to get your team to see it a certain way. Staying neutral while getting results is a challenge. Playing favorites only lead to more issues your therapist side will have to encounter.



Thinking leads to creating. As a project manager, you must always be thinking. Whether it is the next step or the next project, running scenarios in your head will become a habit.


Can these individuals get along? If not, how can they be productive? Is this the right step for the organization? If so, how can we get started?


Sharing information becomes a thinking game. If you tell your stakeholders, what is the impact? Can you and your team survive the consequences? Is it better to withhold certain information from certain individuals?


All of these games benefit a thinker. You do not want to be viewed as a liar. Also, do not overthink. The lines can get blurry. Honesty and openness can benefit a thinker. It develops trust within your team and organization.



A transformer takes an idea and makes it something great. You see a blank canvas to create beautiful art. Taking the project plans and turning it into something beneficial, from paper to actuality.


Transforming your team is another way to excel in your organization. Setting goals that appear unattainable yet placing reachable benchmarks along the way to ensure you reach those goals.


Also, transform yourself as a project manager by looking inward to see where weaknesses lie then learning ways to fix them helps you become better.


Being a transformer is all about creating better, whether it be projects, teams, organizations, stakeholders, and yourself.



This article ends my seven part discussion answering the question 'What is a project manager?' I tried to encompass a majority of the roles a project manager must take on to be successful.


Of course, this series of articles does not broach each and every possibility. It creates a discussion of the variety the project management profession possesses. No matter the industry, these nouns throughout the past weeks should touch on a situation you recognize.


Are there any 'T' nouns that come to your mind to describe a project manager?

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