Advice for Junior PMs – #2 – Get uncomfortable

Starting with a new organization or with a new project team can feel daunting.  There are many people many years your senior, and you somehow need to establish that you are not only there to help the organization, but to help these people be successful in their roles as well.  This situation often arises when you do not get to select your project team.

So what do you do to be the boss without coming off as arrogant?  Why, you slip into Project Controller Mode!  All of the sudden, you are not the one coaching and mentoring, leveraging the expertise of the team to plan activities, or managing risks like a boss; you are merely reporting budget and status to your sponsor with the hope that the project “team” can get the job done.

In a strange turn of events, nobody cares that you are uncomfortable.  In fact, more people will care that the team are not working together effectively and are only raising risks when they become issues.

So get uncomfortable.

When working with teams, call the team together for a planning meeting.  Discuss how you are concerned about the lack of communication.  When someone gives you a glib answer, ask the question, “Go ahead and tell me the steps you will take to complete this task.”  Don’t be afraid to be that “And Then” person.

When working in the broader organization, talk to people about your project.  Ask to go to departmental meetings to discuss the project.  Bring relevant SMEs along with you to answer the tough questions.

Most importantly, always solicit suggestions for your personal improvement.  Adopt a Continual Improvement culture.  The worst that can happen is that someone doesn’t give you any feedback.

Has your discomfort lead to project issues in the past?  How have you dealt with them?  What would you have done to mitigate this?


About Jason H Zalmanowitz
I am a nerdy Management Consultant / Project Manager with a MBA, have spent the majority of my career working for consulting firms in Calgary, and I race in triathlons because of (and thanks to) my wife. As a Project Manager, I have managed field implementations, strategy development projects, software development projects, and hardware implementation projects. As a consultant, I have helped companies articulate how and why they are going to implement and interact with sustaining technology to support their business.

3 Responses to Advice for Junior PMs – #2 – Get uncomfortable

  1. Pingback: Advice for Junior PMs – Introductory Post | Unnatural Leadership

  2. Pingback: Advice for Junior PMs – #3 – The value of a kick off meeting for a small team | Unnatural Leadership

  3. Pingback: The Essentialist Project Manager | Unnatural Leadership

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