Project Practitioners > If Not Experience, Then What? Part 3

If Not Experience, Then What? Part 3

By Chris Cook, PMP

READ TIME: 5 minutes


Last week, competition was discussed as another factor in the war against experience. Being competitive is part of the game. Hierarchies naturally form. Also, facing higher levels of competition constitutes a better background.


This week, being one who people want to play/compete with is another factor. In other words, likeability.


Take Wayne Gretzky for example. The greatest hockey player of all time had people lining up to play with him. He shared the puck with everyone, scored when the chance was open, and won at the highest levels. Gretzky did not make success about him. It was always about the team.


On the other hand, Kobe Bryant is a great competitor who won at the highest levels in his sport yet nobody wanted to play with him. His feud with Shaquille O’Neal is legendary and chronicled in many outlets. Together, they won three championships in a row. Had they stayed together, that number would have been far greater. However, both men had egos. Shaquille went on to play with other Hall of Famers while Kobe paved his own path.


Two great performers at their sports, yet one has a reputation for being a team player while the other does his own thing his way.


Take this likeability trait to management. All of the credentials and accolades do not add up to being a nice person. Rather than convincing others through case studies and examples, being nice can have someone go that extra mile without thinking about it.


Again, project management is people management. People are not robots. If you treat them as such, you are not very likable. You may think, “Who cares if they like me? I just need them to respond and act to my demands.” Guess what? They will not respond to your commands because they do not like you. They may see opportunities for growth but do not want you to succeed.


So how does one become more likable?




You have two ears and one mouth for a reason. This kindergarten saying applies to all ages. Stop talking so much. You do not become likable from all your stories of far off lands no one else has been to or never will be. No one can relate to that.


If you listen and ask meaningful questions based on what you are hearing, people start to like you. They want to tell you about their day and what they are working on. Draw the line at abusing your time with their ear beatings, but giving someone a few minutes hurts nobody.


By listening, you can give your team members want they want. Some want recognition, some want more pay, and others want more freedom. By listening, you find out the nuances of what makes your team click. Constantly lecturing turns you into the grade school teacher that no one has fond memories of. Instead, be the cool science teacher who knows you would rather be in art class, but if you continue to show up, you are going to see some pretty creative uses for science.


More than likely, your team is made up of paycheck collectors. Understand that and use it to your advantage rather than fight it with some corny team building activities. Give those people tasks to accomplish and leave them be. That is their role.



Focus on the person or problem at hand. Multitasking is for scatterbrains who leave open drafted emails and unsent text messages. They perform about 50% of all their work and complete none. One completed task outperforms their 84 open windows.


Not only focus on the problem at hand but turn your attention to your team members. Often, they will start to reveal things if you are perceptive enough. You see and hear the frustration. You begin to notice who works better with others. This perception and focus will produce more for your projects than some work practice template or the latest gadget.


Walk the Walk

Do as you say. I am tired of people who play boss or supervisor. They think a lead role involves orders and mandates. People do not respond to those. They want a human who understands their problems and is willing to work with them.


Imagine having a figurehead for a boss who thinks he or she runs the company because he or she signs the checks. They pop their head in the office to make an appearance, make a few comments like they run things, then head off on their shopping spree or jog.


This person wants to be the boss without being the boss. They say all the corporate words but take no actions. When it comes time to speak in front of a table of executives, they state their title and name then hand the presentation off to the more qualified, actual bosses of the organization.


People see right through this act built on an unstable footing of ego. Any pushback brings their reign to an end. No more talking. Just do it.




Likeability does not relate to being a pushover. People tend not to like those individuals either. You have to be confident in your words and actions. This confidence brings about trust. Your team members will know you have their backs when they are right, and you will have the right words when they are wrong.


Likeability creates an environment where people can share their thoughts without being afraid of repercussions. If you think the latest implementation sucks, express those thoughts. Amongst the river of ideas will be a kernel of truth to build off of.


Not everyone will like you. If you stand for anything, this is a good sign.


The battle on experience ends. But the war continues…

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