One of the most common mistakes I’ve made as Project Manager was to end up stuck in my office sending e-mails and issuing reports, instead of communicating with people to understand what’s going on.
Sure, project management is about managing scope, budget, time and quality. However, interacting with and managing people is, more than anything, what project management is first and foremost about.
And, as any endeavor related to human beings, it is complicated and incompatible with one-size-fits-all approaches. Project managers should be able to wear many hats, in the sense of using different approaches to interact with their teams and stakeholders, based on the characteristics of their team and the nature of project they are managing.
Here are 10 different approaches a good Project Manager should be able to adapt to, like changing hats, based on the circumstances that he is in:
Director. Telling others what to do, giving direction and adopting a competitive attitude, driving the team to win.
Facilitator. When facilitating, the Project Manager coordinates the input of others..
Coach. The coach PM helps others to achieve their goals by training and mentoring at both the individual and team levels..
Supporter. The supporting PM provides assistance to the team along the way, ensures that no obstacles are on their way and is more of a servant leader than a director.
Consultant. The consulting PM uses her influence and/or expertise to shape the project and achieve results. Wearing the consultant’s hat, the Project Manager obtains other’s opinions and acts as a servant to the team.
Politician. Always trying to influence the team and reach consensus, the Politician PM encourages team participation in the decision making process. Team members “own” decisions as they are made collectively by the group, which results in improved teamwork, however, sometimes always requiring group agreements to make decisions can lead to bottlenecks and delays.
Bureaucrat. Procedures, Procedures, Procedures!. This bureaucratic style may be considered boring and counter-efficient, but is sometimes appropriate for project in which details are critical, or in which compliance to government or other regulations is an important requirement.
Motivator. Charismatic Project Managers usually wear the hat of Motivator to energize and encourage their team in performing work and achieving goals. Motivation is considered a very important element of project management, or getting anything done in a more general sense, however, the strong presence of a charismatic project leader, can make team, and ultimately the success of the project, fully dependent on her presence.
High-Level Overseer. Allows the team to self-organize, using a laissez-faire approach, “allow to act”, “allow to do” and leave alone. The laissez-faire PM is not involved in the day-to-day work of the team, but manages and consults when needed, using this approach mostly when working with experienced teams skilled enough to be empowered and self-organized.
Analyst. The analyst PM is driven by his own technical expertise and ability, usually making or shaping the technical decisions of the project, which is then communicating to her team.