Project Management

The Best Advice for Project Managers: Be Invisible

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 [email protected] Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

I was recently talking to a group of new project managers who were on a training course, and the instructor asked me if I could share a 10-second piece of advice that summed up how new PMs should manage their first few projects. I wasn’t prepared for the question so had to think on my feet a bit, but at the risk of sounding arrogant, I’m quite pleased with what I came up with—so I thought I would expand on it here.

My response was, “Try to be invisible.” What does that mean? If a project manager is doing their job well, then no one will really notice they are there unless directly engaging with them. If the PM has built a strong team and is proactively managing potential issues, then the people working on the project will be able to get on with their work without disruption. If the PM is aware of stakeholder needs, then those stakeholders will have access to the information that they need, they’ll have the context to interpret it, and they’ll know when they need to be more active to provide reviews, approvals, etc.

Getting to that point is a lot of work on the part of the project manager, but when it’s achieved the work appears to “just happen” without any conscious effort—hence being “invisible.” That’s not easy to achieve, even for very experienced project managers. So how does a new PM …

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I hope, when they die, cartoon characters have to answer for their sins.

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