I’ve heard the life of a project manager being likened to a circus juggler – a key difference is that the balls being juggled are hand grenades and the pins of each grenade are connected to each other!
Given competing demands and agendas, what should a PM focus on? If they dedicate their time to the customer, does the team feel neglected? If they focus on project administration, is the customer fuming?
Consistent practices supported by good automation can go a long way to helping a project manager offload “hard” skill activities such as maintaining schedule & financials or generating status reports. However, even with this, there is the need to find the right balance across “soft” skill activities. This is where we I restate what I said in my last article “you can’t manage what you don’t measure”.
A technique that may work for you is to create a simple one page table every week that has the following sections:
- Your team
- Your customer
- Other Stakeholders
Every time you provide service to or have a significant, meaningful communication with one of the first three groups (asynchronous reporting or firefighting is NOT servicing!) award yourself a point in their section. If at the end of the week you find a significant imbalance between the scores for the first three groups, you know where to focus.
The inclusion of the last group might seem odd but is critical – award yourself points for any activities that are related to professional development or contributions to the PM profession. While it might be challenging to include opportunities for development within a busy weekly routine, not consciously planning time for these activities may eventually result in job dissatisfaction, career obsolescence or burnout.
With a bit of measurement and discipline, you’ll become an adept juggler in NO time!