September 28 & 29, 2020 | Virtual
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This is (or, should be) a great thread. It is incredibly important to ensure that your project team knows that you, as the Project Manager understands that they are under similar stress to execute a quality project.
As a PM in a new organization, I used humor to break the ice. In my first Pre-construction meeting for a new project, I used a cartoon about Project Kickoff meetings and not covering the project scope, or schedule to the team. It was a good way to break the ice because the quality of the turnover meetings I guess locally have been very scarce (I didn't realize that at the time - Lesson Learned), so it hit home for most of them. But, the team is great, they rely on each other and they certainly know that I can be approached - which at the end of the day - breaking down barriers is as critical a step in resource management/team building as finding the right resource. If the team member cant talk about something small, then the likelihood of them reporting a defect, or critical issue during the heat of the execution is slim to none.
Great viewpoint on team building, Thanks!
To get the ball rolling, here’s a humor line I have used with teams related to estimating and schedule management (dry humor to point out a problem):
-- Deadlines do not get the respect they deserve, so be sure to salute them as they pass you by.
Humor is a great way to de-stress a team. Sometimes if team members have been storming for a while, a joke can defuse the situation...
I sometimes put "Easter eggs" as programmers call it, in my presentations to leadership. One one issue involving HVAC, I reported that our team couldn't proceed until the other team "Got all their ducts in a row." In another, where the required presentation format included "Requirements Impacted" I included: Two objects cannot occupy the same place at the same time ~ Pauli Exclusion Principle.
When it's a tough crowd, they are often looking to find some reason to pick the PM apart. I found that including some humor sort of jars them out of that mindset. It's hard to be angry at someone when you're laughing (even internally). It certainly made for less boring presentations.
I use self-deprecation for my humour. For example, I told people on my team that K.I.S.S. stood for Keep It Simple, Stéphane.
It's safe and helps you build trust.
Humor is a tool I use to build collaboration, and it has worked well for decades. I don't tell jokes, I simply look for the humor in daily events. People who laugh together work together better. The last team sent me a nice card when the project ended saying they will miss my humor. That was really nice!
Before engaging in humour activities while managing a project it is important to take the pulse of the members of the project management team before shooting your mouth of about any humorous topics. There has been situation that I have heard about were jokes have fallen flat because the individual was not aware of certain "in house" dynamics and situation that existed in the organisation and as result the jokes were not taken in good faith.
Daire is correct, I've seen humor cause trouble. Either there were "inside jokes" or technical jokes that weren't understood by everyone, or there were cultural / generational differences that caused some people to misunderstand the joke- if they even understood a joke was being told.
For example, try dropping a movie quote in a diverse group of people. It will be appreciated by some who recognize the reference, but cause confusion among those who don't recognize it.
Rather than supplying a one-liner, I'd like to focus on the importance of when to use humor. Most importantly, don't use humor until you've build credibility with the team. If you try using humor without first giving the team a reason to listen to you then you're going to be perceived as a doofus.
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