Project Management

Are You an Escalator or a Diffuser?

Over the past 10 years, Chris Cook has spent his career in the construction industry. He has a Bachelor's of Science in Industrial Technology Management with an emphasis in Building Construction Management and Master's of Science in Project Management. He is an accredited PMP. Follow more of Chris's insights at his blog EntrePMeur.

A problem arrives at your inbox. It’s something you never had to deal with before, so you seek advice. You walk into your senior manager’s office to seek counseling. They ask question after question about the problem at an exceedingly faster rate. You have no answers because this is your first experience with the issue.

Because no answers are presented, the senior manager gives you a list of items to do before taking care of the problem. You leave the office with more issues than when you arrived. Anxiety and stress increase. Your workload increases. The small flame quickly turns into a bonfire.

This senior manager is an escalator. Rather than defusing the problem or asking pertinent questions to help you solve it on your own, he or she increases the amount of work, stress and anxiety. You leave wondering why you ever asked the question in the first place. Knowing this could occur, you become hesitant to ask for assistance in the future.

The goal of any leader should be to defuse the situation. Bring a sense of calm to the problem. Young project managers will think this problem is the end-all/be-all, and you have to be there to provide comfort and assurance that everything will work itself out. If you add to this pressure, you might break the startup.

The phrase, “Employees do not leave companies, they leave managers” comes to mind in this …

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"The purpose of art: to make the unconscious conscious."

- Richard Wagner