Project Practitioners > The Best Ability Is...

The Best Ability Is...

By Chris Cook, PMP

READ TIME: 5 minutes


In sports, being and staying healthy can be the difference in finding yourself on the field/court and riding the pine. If you show up and stay available, you have a chance to play. If you remain in the trainer’s room with ice bags covering your body, your chances of playing are drastically reduced.


No one plays from the trainer’s table. Next man/woman up is a classic sports take on replacing talent. A player gets traded or injured, next person up. The person who has been showing up consistently and putting in the work has the best chance to fill the newly opened position.


Who would you select? The talented person who shows up whenever and leaves whenever or the hard worker who is on time and ready to play. Even though the more talented player may seem like an obvious choice, the hard-working gym rat may get the nod.


The best ability is availability. If you are not on site or in the office, how can you expect to be called on? Reliability is part of availability. People need to be able to contact you in times of need.


How to make yourself available:



  1. Show Up…

Part of being available is being available. Do not give yourself the option of an out. Showing up is mandatory. No one wants to hear about your aches and pains. Everyone else made it to the office. What makes you special?


Your team relies on you for leadership. I work with a plumber that calls me at every turn to give him approval for repairs. Is this necessary? Of course not, but he feels more comfortable in that environment, so I comply. He is the only vendor who requires such attention. Even though he has the answers and the right direction, he still wants that approval to move forward.


Without showing up and answering those calls, work most likely does not get done. Showing up also leads by example. If you are never there or always away, your team will question your dedication. How come you get to show up around 9 am when everyone else has been here since 8 am? Why do you get the option to call into the meetings when everyone needs to be there?


These exemptions lead to frustration. This aspect of availability is one of the few things you can control. Many other aspects of being a project manager are out of your hands. Showing up is not one of them.


  1. On Time…

Everyone’s time is important. Yours is no more important than the intern’s time. A 10 am meeting means the meeting starts at 10 am. Not when you get there because you control the message and want to feel needed, but when the appointment was set.


Being on time is another aspect of availability you control. If you know the weather is going to be bad, leave 15 minutes earlier than normal. Everyone is always busy. Your busy is no busier than somebody else’s. Be respectful of all people’s time.


How do you feel when someone has a meeting scheduled with you, and you end up sitting in the room by yourself for 10 minutes beyond the original time? You feel like this does not matter to the other person. Your time is not as valuable. You come in prepared to discuss the details of the project, and meanwhile, the other person is rushing in without any notes or even a pen.


Do not just show up, show up on time.


  1. Ready to Work

Now that you have arrived on time, be prepared to work. Have a notepad and pen ready to take notes. Have the plan and specifications at your disposal. Being a warm body in a room provides nothing. Participate in the discussion. Ask questions relative to the material being discussed. Keep up with the conversation.


Nothing kills the momentum of a meeting than a person asking a question the group has already answered. It is fantastic you arrived on time, but be a contributing member of the meeting. You are there for a reason. Represent the owner proudly. Stick up for your vendors. Pass along the information you gained from the meeting to your crews and team members.


Your subcontractors are expected to not only arrive on site but have the tools and materials necessary to complete their tasks. What good is a mason without mortar and a trowel? What good is a carpenter without a hammer and tape measure? What good is a project manager without a scope and schedule?




Being at your desk on time and ready to work is 80% of your job. You can be the best project manager in the world, but if you are only present a few hours a month, you might as well not even show up. Your talents are wasted because you are not present.


Being on time is part of being present. If you arrive an hour later than the rest of the team and leave an hour earlier, your dedication will be questioned. People will start to follow your lead and arrive a little later then take off a little earlier. Why not? You do it. Monkey see monkey do.


However, if your team sees you arriving every single day, on time to all meetings, and ready to take notes and put pen to paper, what is their excuse? The person who is in control is doing the basics and fundamentals so that the rest will follow.


You can take all of the exams and learn all of the knowledge. Sometimes, the best ability is availability.

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