A project manager confided she was distressed by complaints from her project teammates and customers; and being bogged down with increasing workloads. Her peers complained about how people on the project relate to one another, and customers throwing tantrums at her and the team without regards for courtesy. Because she engages people on their gripes, she has realized that she dealt with people issues more than in clearing her own work. How should she recover and move forward?
TBH, I tend to think there isn’t a generic answer. I’d say she should have Started off on the right foot at the start of the project. That's harsh :-P .. There should be experience from running projects and lessons learned from past projects – if not by herself, from others on and outside her project team. (In this KA, in assessing stakeholders at the start of a project). Regardless, she is already in the situation. A way forward could be to Ease off from the noise. Gradually change her approach or style in managing her project.
There are many resources and professional help, out there to maybe resolve or deal with the specifics of her predicaments; I’d suggest to –
- Set expectations on how you'd do your work, e.g. what working framework, ITTO approach, etc. you may lead the project team to adopt and adapt. This includes how you’d manage people – such as do you set goals together with the team and let them do their work. Or do you mostly set goals autocratically and micromanage. Most importantly, do you communicate with clarity and manage expectations consistently.
- Set guiding principles for success that will help the team in making decisions collectively, e.g. letting subject matter experts do the talking instead of channelling communications through the project manager or office. This is particularly important for your role – do you work on removing impediments and help the team pave ways forward, or do you mostly spend time as a postmaster and fact finding what went wrong.
It is a commendable principle and practice, by and large, to be attentive, to listen more and acknowledge what was said. In the context of work and that of a project, perhaps conversations ought to weigh in more on what the time is meant for → work lah. While it is virtuous to be human, it can be said there is a right time for the right conversation. Be firm, suggest a time and place for casual chats (if you can, make the time).
I find it helpful, to steer clear from –
- Characters and emotions.
- Talking about personal desires and affairs while at work.
- Unacceptable actions e.g. hiding information because of mistakes, past decisions, bad feedback, etc.