When Does 'Protecting' Your Team Become a Negative?

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at andy.jordan@roffensian.com. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

From the very beginning of our project management careers and training, we are told how important our soft skills are in being successful. I’m not going to argue with that, but I do wonder whether there is a point where we overuse some of those skills.

Specifically in this article, I want to look at the role the project manager plays in protecting the team from some of the outside influences on the project. This is an element of leadership I consider to be crucial to the project’s success, but it is something I feel can go too far—especially in the modern project delivery environment that requires project teams to understand more about the reasoning behind their project and why it matters.

The concept of protection
The foundation of protection for the team will always exist. Project managers act as a shock absorber for the team, absorbing some of the requests, concerns, issues and other items that come from outside the core and freeing resources up to focus on completing the tasks they are assigned to deliver.

This benefits the team in a number of ways. Not only does it avoid diverting focus from the tasks that actually deliver results, it also helps ensure the team members have a common understanding of the issues that impact them by channeling the message through a single point: the project manager. The approach also simplifies the communication …

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