Remember being a child and saying, I won’t ever be like that when I grow up?
Recently I’ve found myself becoming someone I had vowed never to be. You know the one: that always asking for updates, breathing down your neck, annoying person? Yup, that very one! I’m sure everyone has had experience with them. You jump into a bathroom stall or hide under your desk when you see them coming to avoid them. Well maybe not that extreme, but you know what I mean.
Why did I become this person? Well, it came with the job description… I became a project manager. And I love my job!
I’m generally a nice person. Seriously! People that know me would say that I am someone that is easy to get along with, easy to talk to, good at building relationships, honest and trustworthy. Sounds like I’m full of myself, doesn’t it? Maybe a little, but this truly is me. So why do I feel that there are times people would rather avoid me? It’s not me, it’s the job, at least that’s what I tell myself.
Project Managers Keep Projects on Track – We Are Here to Help You!
Let me give you the reasons why you shouldn’t feel compelled to hide from me. Seriously most public bathrooms don’t smell too good.
A project manager is usually under a lot of pressure to ensure a project is meeting a deadline. Trust me, I don’t want to keep asking you, “are you done yet?”. However, as a PM, I do need to let the stakeholders know that we are on schedule. Timelines can impact business decisions, resource planning, billings, licensing, and renewals among others.
So the next time your PM asks you how much work has been completed and then starts checking it against their baseline schedule, it’s not because they don’t trust your work, It’s because we are trying to see if we are still on schedule. And if not, then we need to plan our response to the stakeholders or to internal resources. Be honest: if it is taking you longer to get the work done, then tell us. The sooner your PM knows this, the better it is for the team/entire project.
Another thing I find myself asking the team a lot is, “Are you sure?” Again, not second-guessing, but we really do want you to be sure, and if there are any doubts, let us know! This question gets asked a lot during initial estimations. Don’t be an optimist! Wow, I don’t think I’ll get asked to do motivational speeches anytime soon! But seriously, if you want to be an optimist and give the best case scenario, but also provide the worst case. What if things go wrong? It helps the PMs create a schedule/budget that will most likely reduce stress on the team later. Trust me, we do this for our entire team’s mental health!
I know there are a lot of other annoying habits that PMs have, but hopefully, you get the gist of it, it’s just part of the job. There is a reason we are bugging you for information. The outcome is that the projects run smoothly.
Let Us Know About Vacation Time in Advance
Now I do want to touch on the hardest part of the job, one that no matter how much experience you have as a PM is just tough. Vacation days! If a PM knows at the beginning of a project that someone will be taking a vacation, well that’s easy, we can bake the time into the schedule. But when we are approached mid-project on taking an extended vacation, say a week off, well then the stress starts building. Seriously, I want you to enjoy your time off, everyone deserves a break! But what about the project?
Many times it’s unavoidable, and if that’s the case, well it is what it is and we’ll deal with it. But if possible, even if you have an inkling that you may take some time off while the project timeline is being set, speak up. It’s better to deliver a project early, if you decide not to go on vacation, than to deliver late, by not anticipating vacation times. Oh, and usually we put in extra days in the schedule to manage sick days and one-offs. We’ve got your back!
So come on out of the bathroom stalls, we can see you under that desk, it’s ok! As much as a PM is there for the customer and their project, you are our team, our colleagues, and we want to make sure that we work hand in hand with you, make the project a success while also making it fun to work on.
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