Managing the 4 WivesMuhammad Zeeshan Ali, PMP, PMI-ACP
In my other article, “Big Love – The Lucky Guy with 4 Wives”, I discussed that Project Manager role generally seems to people so intruding just like a person having 4 wives. Also this article enlightened on the challenges and sacrifices a Project Manager has to bear in order to manage the 4 wives (Customer, Executive Management, Team and Family) to ensure project success. Continuing on the same topic, I would like to share my thoughts on what can be done to make the Project Manager the actual “Lucky Guy”.
Manager the Customer requires the Project Manager to strictly follow the processes. The other thing Project Manager can do is to keep all the progress transparent to all and above all should keep maximum focus on regular reporting and all kinds of follow-ups.
The processes ensure that whatever is going on the project, it is passing through a set of processes and check-points related to those. Any failure is bound to be highlighted in timely manner when the work is executed through a standard process. Things automatically becomes transparent and it is easy for Project Manager to take appropriate step. The Project Manager should ensure that he/she is executing the communication plan effectively. Regular reports, with transparent facts, ensures that there are no surprises and to make sure that all relevant stakeholders, especially those required to take any action or provide feedback, should be followed up regularly.
Seasoned executives are more interested in any bad news or potential risk rather that the good news regarding the project. Secondly they like to get the bad news or risks as soon as it is executed. The more later any bad news or risk is exposed, its cost increases exponentially.
The Executive Management:
Executive Management is like a firewall between the Customer and the Project Manager. Therefore it is important to keep the Executive Management informed about the issues and their root cause along with suggestions. Another important thing is to utilize the Risk Management effectively to make the Executive Management is familiar with potential risks and also helps to pro-actively plan the risks before the even occur.
A good Risk Management plan will support the Project Manager in situations when things go wrong and all that the Project Managers has to do in that situations is to execute the pre-planned and pre-approved strategy for that situation. Such exercise ensures that the Executive Management is kept up to date with the situation as well as set their expectations to a realistic level and this helps the Executive Management to play their part effectively.
Since the Team is the core ingredient in the project therefore they need to be taken care very effectively to ensure project success. The thing above all a Project Manager needs to understand is that he/she is responsible for all the team. The soft skills for Project Manager and effective leadership qualities plays a vital role in managing teams successfully.
The Project Manager needs to spend some informal time with the team members to understand and access their personalities to see their strengths and weaknesses other than the technical skills’ perspective. No matter if you are a X-Type or Y-Type of Project Manager, it is not possible to crash a project effectively if you don’t have an effective bond with your team and are able to understand their personal issues.
Another thing that requires to be taken care of is that all the team members should have clarity on the project proceedings and challenges. Let the team be part of the planning and create a culture of “Courage & Respect” among the team members. Agile practices are very useful and practical in this regard as they help in creating a culture where the team decides how to do things and when something goes wrong, the team collectively takes care of the issue.
The other thing a Project Manager can do is to build the team technically and professionally to ensure the team grows in stature. I have discussed a little bit more about it in my article “Plan, Train & Delegate”.
The family is the one which in most cases is rightly complaining about the unavailability of Project Manager. The most challenging thing a Project Manager has to learn and adopt is to keep the right work-life balance. It often happens that the person is with family to spend some quality family time and then suddenly gets a call and gets engaged in some work.
The best way to go about is to set strict boundaries regarding work and personal lives. Use of processes and effective delegation of work can really come handy to lower the level of dependency on the Project Manager. The Project Manager can build its backup through training and delegation. All that will help to keep all the dependency off the shoulders of only the Project Manager. The Project Manager will be more in a Governance mode though guidance with minimum of effort.
Another useful thing is to take some time off every now and then so that everybody can realize that all work is not dependent on you and learn to work in a systematic manner.
Lesson Learned and Conclusion:
We need to put all core management philosophies into tangible actions and produce results. Get yourself relatively shielded from the day-to-day grind by all wives through better serve and effective engagement on expectations. Give respect to their opinion and defend each one from other interference because presence, communication, collaboration and support from all is vital for the project success. Work hard to keep healthy relations with all to ensure the high-performance of project.
All of the above responsibilities fall to the already over-burdened project manager but never express your frustration instead of actively engage, involve, respect and train. The most difficult wife to handle is your TEAM but make others happy too! Here you need to know that slow is fast and never live in the past.
OGMC provides a wide range of Trainings to give the opportunity to Project Managers to learn and enhance their capabilities to manage the “4 wives”.