Thanksgiving blessings for Project Managers

turkeyIt’s Canadian Thanksgiving – a tradition which started as an occasion to celebrate the seasonal harvest but can also be extended to honor the bounty of the full year.  While it is a dark day for many a turkey, for the rest of us, it’s a time to enjoy some quality time with friends and family.

We project managers spend so much of our time preparing for the future and living in the moment that we can sometimes forget the blessings of the past.

Here is a list of just a few of the (project-related) blessings we should be thankful for.

A meaningful project: It might seem odd to start the list of with this, but without a project to manage which adds measurable value to our businesses while simultaneously richening our portfolio and experience, why’d we get into this profession to begin with?

A committed sponsor: A good sponsor can make a successful project as surely as a bad one can sink it.  If you are lucky enough to have a good sponsor for your project, rejoice and thank them – they have likely kept all manner of distractions from hitting you while simultaneously shouting the praises of you & your team to all who will listen.  If you don’t, ask yourself, have you done everything within your power to get them to effectively commit?

Vocal stakeholders: Yes, they can be frustrating, and yes, they can be misaligned, but give me a stakeholder who openly resists instead of the one who smiles to my face but stabs me in the back.  If nothing else, challenging stakeholders provide us with excellent practice for crucial soft skills such as expectation management, negotiation, influence and persuasion.

A self-managing team: John “Hannibal” Smith frequently said “I love it when a plan comes together!“, but I’d prefer to say “I love it when a team comes together!“.  If you have a team which produces more than just the sum of its parts, recognize their efforts and accomplishments frequently, but most important, stay out of their way!

Supportive resource managers: With the exception of project managers working for projectized organizations, the rest of us need to forge productive partnerships with the resource managers who own the direct reporting relationships with our team members.  These positive relationship need to work both ways.  A resource manager proactively lets us know if a higher priority initiative is coming along which might require them to pull one of our team members but will also go to bat for us to get us the best possible resources for our work.  On the flip side, we’ll keep the resource manager in the loop if we are forecasting a lesser or greater draw on their team members.

Our peers: Whether you work within a PMO or have a loosely established community of practice, the support and knowledge provided by fellow project managers is critical to our success.  Applying lessons found out the hard way by them, getting the inside track on how to work with certain stakeholders or team members and learning exactly how to fill out that cryptic project artifact are just a few examples of how our peers support us daily.

The profession: I’ll close out my list with the project management profession itself.  While it can generate a lot of frustration to work in a profession which focuses on unique endeavors possessing high degrees of uncertainty, most of us got into this gig for the challenge.  Yes, you could have joined any one of a number of other jobs which would have provided you with more predictable and positive daily feedback, but you can’t complain about the lack of variety when it comes to ours!

So take a moment to reflect over the past year and raise a glass to all which we project managers have to be thankful for!

Categories: Project Management | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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