There are times as a Project Manager that you have to rise above the drama that unfolds not just on your project but in the work environment around you. That is part of day to day work life but the Project Manager has to stay focused on the project objectives at hand and by acting that way show an example to your team to follow. This holds true for all those in leadership positions. Dont get involved in the drama that others choose to create.
Take the high ground, no matter how hard, and act with a high level of emotional intelligence – you will make a difference to some, if not all, around you.
As Project Managers we always look to have our plans set, budgets tracked, scope understood and generally controls in place to lessen the risk of failure. All these things are great to have but let’s not forget that to be truly successful you need a team to perform together and your job is to have them perform at their best.
Individuals on a team aren’t always at their best – we all have our days when things just don’t seem to be going right and we feel like we are achieving little of any value. As the Project Manager and leader of that project you must be able to see that and act.
One of the easy ways is to constantly keep three words handy when you speak to your team members – ‘can I help?’.
It doesn’t mean you always can – it just means you are there if needed and helping your team
As Project Managers our aim is to gain respect from those around us as we guide a project team and ultimately a business to deliver results from its investments in projects. This can only be achieved by holding everyone accountable to their piece of the project puzzle.
There is an art to Project Management and sometimes non more so than having people held accountable to do their part on a project. This can be made even harder with an organization in the midst of change (as we all seem to be in todays business world). The art comes from the delivery of the message when someone is not pulling their weight on a project and needs encouragement to ensure they complete what they are accountable for. There will be occasions when they do not complete what is assigned and there poses the project manager with a problem to solve.
Letting them slip and impacting other parts of the project ensures that the PM has not done their job. Holding them accountable and escalating the problem could (and i say could) impact their work on the project. But it is the job of the PM to have those conversations and work with team members to ensure they know what is expected of them and once in a while call them out. It needs to be done with respect and at the right time.
It is never easy but everyone on the project team and in the organization as a whole must understand it is part of the job and support them in doing it.
There is a quote I use when training for years on Project Management around the human factor in the difference between doing Project Management well or poorly. It identifies to me the utmost importance for the art of project management and how fine a line that is to be successful.
It says –
“Plain and Simple, project management is an operational practice; the means to an end. Practiced well, it leads to value; practiced poorly it does virtually nothing except give itself a bad name.
This raises the issue of the human factor. Project Management is nothing more than a construct with methods and practices that support it (Science). The difference between doing it well and doing it poorly therefore must lie with the practitioners, those who manage the practitioners, and the organization support provided to project management within the organization. Were this not true, every organization that practices project management would realize similar benefits. We know this is not the case”
Recognizing that I would say that project management is considered to be 80% art and 20% science. Project fail or succeed because of people, not because of technology, tools, or techniques. Projects are really technical opportunities or problems with human dimensions.
I have been convinced for some time that the truly best Project Managers have an in built passion for delivery and achieving what some may see as the impossible. That is a difficult trait to teach someone and it is also hard to interview for but worth the time to discover.
That passion has the ability to
– build teams that demonstrate each day that focusing on a vision together achieves so much more that looking inwards at just ourselves
– inspire team members and those around them to perform to the best of their abilities
Look for passion in your Project Managers to drive results
Having got the contract negotiated and signed it is time for the kick off to the project and it is up to the Project Manager to partner with the vendor engagement lead to get the project off to a good start. The kick off should be a joint effort to develop and also present and should focus on the objectives of the project, measures of success both organizations seek and the roles everyone will play in meeting the agreed upon plan.
1) Understand key contract negotiated points and ensure they are enforced
2) Meet with and approve the key vendor supplied resources ensuring they have sufficient background in what you are undertaking, relevant industry knowledge (if applicable) and that they can fit within the overall team and culture.
3) Focus immediately on putting together the project roadmap with your vendor and have the whole team buy into it
4) Agree rules of engagement to work jointly together along with known escalation paths.
It is well known that starting off well and with a solid foundation of openness will pay dividends in the end but it takes effort and understanding on both sides to create. There will always be issues to address and disagreements along the way but you can establish the guidelines in how to deal with it via a well planned kick off.
Next – Resolving Issues
Over time I have been part of many projects involving managing the role of a vendor and have decided to document some of those experiences and lessons learned to try and establish the mythical ‘best practice’
After the selection should come the decision and the inevitable contract negotiations where the role of the Project Manager needs to be clearly understood to enable a workable business relationship with the chosen vendor. Contract negotiations can become tough when discussing key terms and as much as the Project Manager needs to know about those terms, they don’t need to be directly front and center of them.
Here are a few simple rules for this stage around the role of the Project Manager
1) Ensure there is one and only one focal point for the vendor in terms of the contract and that it isn’t the Project Manager who needs to have a good working relationship for the implementation.
2) Make sure the Project Manager contributes to the negotiations and has key implementation specific terms included in the contract
2) Also ensure the Project Manager clearly understands the other contract terms so that they can be planned for and managed.
3) Ensure that the Project Manager is clearly set up as the focal point for the vendor during the implementation
4) Agree up front the project roles and responsibilities for the implementation and that the Project Manager is to manage the vendor and project on your behalf.
The contract negotiations is an opportunity for both sides to assess the potential working relationship fop the implementation and beyond. The Project Manager can learn from that and also set up key management expectations to drive a successful project.
Next – The Kick Off