One of the first things we learn about office etiquette is to not discuss salary, religion, or politics with our co-workers. I mean especially this year, with the recent election, politics should definitely be off the table at work. Everyone is entitled to their own values and beliefs, but we still all need to work with each other regardless of where we fall.
As a project manager, there are additional areas we need to stay away from to keep our project teams motivated and to make sure they respect our position on each and every project.
That’s Not My Job!
We are often asked to perform some remedial tasks that honestly should be performed by the project team members. However, we NEVER want to give off that we are too good for small tasks. Say the team wants to have brain storming sessions a few times during the beginning of the project and the project sponsor has asked you to schedule those meetings. That isn’t a meeting you need to be involved in, but you’ve been asked to set up these meetings. Your best response is more along the lines of, “I can get this scheduled for you, but in the future to avoid confusion on who is leading these meetings, it would be best to come from you.”
I’d like to float an idea past you.
Instead of this passive comment, as a PM you want to command the room or virtual room. The more confidence you show to the project team, the more they will rely on your ideas and suggestions in project completion. There is no place for a PM to be modest or timid. Welcome and listen to all feedback. This is always a good listening skill, just don’t doubt your stance on the project.
I can’t talk right now.
Communication is the key to all things project management. If you show you don’t have time for someone, you are giving them the impression that your time is more valuable than their time. We are available to collaborate, listen to frustrations on what is or is not working, and get general updates on a project. When someone asks for your time and you are indeed in the middle of something, make an offer that you will finish what you are in the middle of first and then chat or schedule some time later. It’s ok to set boundaries, but there is a better way to comment when letting them know what they have to say is important to you.
We’ve always done it this way!
This statement is a project management killer. We want to always be on top of new ways to complete projects quicker and at lower costs. Say you have someone from one of the project teams come to you letting you know some of their frustrations and what they think may work. Why not look into it? As the PM, the teams rely on you to help them become more proficient in their processes. A little research into a new way to complete a task or project can go a long way in future projects.
I don’t like this project.
This should just be a given that we don’t want to say this to anyone. Our attitude reflects onto each and every project we work on. If we are optimistic in the processes and how the project is coming along, then the team will also have a better outlook on completing the project. Deep down you truly may not like a project, but we don’t want to portray that onto anyone else. Look into the possibilities of how to make the projects better. There may not be any solutions, but at least you have made the effort and continue moving the project forward.
These response areas can happen in any department, company, or industry. We often hear them among the water cooler gossip, right? It’s good practice to keep a better outlook in life than to constantly focus on the negative but even more so in project management. We are the leaders to ensure projects are completed on time and within budget.
Keep it positive!