The Best AdvocateMuhammad Zeeshan Ali, PMP, PMI-ACP
Imagine a situation where you have worked really hard and to the best of your potential to provide a near absolute masterpiece. Now you need someone to represent you in a manner that all the effort and skills utilized are fully depicted to all the stakeholders. That calls for a reliable person whom not only you can fully trust but also someone who understands the ins and outs of the effort. For any project, it is generally the Project Manager or the Project Lead who always prove to be that “Best Advocate”.
A successful Project Manager is always like a father figure, to the team members, taking care of all their needs, sheltering them and appraising them. I have discussed in my article “The Best Teacher” how the toughest managers are later remembered as the best. What team members need to understand is that each manager is different, what matters the most is how good he/she performs her duties. There are many activities that a Project Manager performs, behind the scenes, that adds to his/her role of “Best Advocate” but unfortunately most of such activities remain unnoticed.
One of the most important tasks, the Project Manager, performs is encapsulating all the work done by the team into processes and make it much more formal looking. It is like the team performs all the work but that is in raw form in terms of representation. The Project Manager takes the raw work to a more formal state and makes the work representable. This helps not only keep things transparent to all but also able to highlight and represent the achievements of the team in a much more effective manner.
The processes implemented by the Project Manager are often subject to objection from the team members and are always termed as additional and unnecessary work. But those processes enable professionalism among the team members. Those processes enable us to add checkpoints at multiple levels which always proves very useful in early detection of an issue or risk.
The Project Manager provides the team with guidance when a risk has been triggered or if there is any issue. It is common for a Project Manager to go out of the way to sort out the issue and provide the much needed support. The other things these processes and ground rules do is that they gradually prove as a source of career growth for the team through guidance and delegation. A Good Project Manager always has a clearly defined and comprehensive career growth roadmap for each of the team members.
The most important characteristic of a good Project Manager as an advocate is that he/she acts as a firewall between the team and the other stakeholders. The Project Manager absorbs all the pressure and translates that into positive motivation to the resources. The good Project Manager always takes responsibility for all the team despite the fact that it was a case of success or failure.
All the team promotions and appraisals are prepared and recommended by the Project Manager. The Project Manager is the one who responds to the questions by the senior management regarding those resources and advocates them throughout that process.
One thing that often goes totally unnoticed is that the Project Manager is the first one to start the day and the last one to end. It is not necessary that the Project Manager is physically present at the location but he/she gets engaged with or even before any of the team members starts the day. The Project Manager, in the similar fashion, is kept engaged till or even after the last team member finishes.
All of this discussion summarizes into a simple thing that a good Project Manager is your “Best Advocate”, sometimes even a better one than yourself.