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Biggest problem that PM’s face in our jobs
G’day folks - what is the biggest problem you have to deal with? I’ll kick-off by stating mine is influencing stakeholders when I am not their direct boss / functional head. Getting them to do what I want. Soft, inter-personal skills are important.
What is your biggest problem?
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Emotional Intelligence is one thing that I am working on improving so that I can improve my influencing and communication skills.

I agree, influencing stakeholders is the holy grail of PM skills and it requires, as Rami stated, that we continuously work on our emotional intelligence.

Influencing comes naturally if it is based on an ethical foundation of perceptions and behaviours, embracing values like respect, fairness, responsibility and honesty, which helps to be regarded as integer and trustworthy. Which helps with having influence in a positive way.

Avoid negative influencing by force, deception, lies - it might succeed but at the price of your own mental health and the suffering of others.

There are many tools to learn how to influence - for example building trust by the ABCD model, making people receptive by SCARF, or just negotiate to win-win using crucial conversations as described by Grenny.

Many thanks Rami & Thomas for your feedback. I’m curious, do you have an experience you could share to help contextualise?
1 reply by Rami Kaibni
Nov 25, 2021 9:55 AM
Rami Kaibni
I have some decent scenarios that happened with me over the years but it’s too long to put it in a comment. I will write something up as soon as I have some time.
Grant -

The biggest problem I've seen has been dealing with the multiple impacts of leadership teams being unable or unwilling to take on only as much concurrent work as can be successfully delivered by their organizational capacity. That root cause results in all kinds of evils including:
- Multitasking
- Unpredictable availability of team members
- Over-commitments
- Distracted sponsorship
- Checklist PMs

Stakeholders, changing needs and interests, politics
Nov 25, 2021 2:26 AM
Replying to Grant Madden
Many thanks Rami & Thomas for your feedback. I’m curious, do you have an experience you could share to help contextualise?
I have some decent scenarios that happened with me over the years but it’s too long to put it in a comment. I will write something up as soon as I have some time.
If "Getting them to do what I want" is your objective I can see where the problem is. Getting them to do what the projects requires to achieve success should be the aim and this can only be achieved if you recognise that what you want is not always best for the project.

From my perspective the PM's challenges evolves as the project advances. Using the traditional infrastructure delivery model: in the conceptual phase working with the stakeholders to define project needs is key; during detailed design it's about focus, scope management and integration; during construction procurement it's the fair recognition and assignment of risk; during construction it's monitoring, quality control and change management, and during closure it's documentation, contract completion, user acceptance, and occupancy.

I'm sure my list is not all inclusive but I want to make the point that the PM challenge (problem) is not one issue but many and that these are subject to change.
One continuous problem for a Project Manager is the bias in criteria from different Management Individuals, mainly when a particular Management person isn't open to resolving the situation with votation/majority punctuation. This issue may limit a Project Manager to organize and orient his work.
Veronica, yes, management can be a issue.

If the PM is able to influence the stakeholders in management, above the project, it can be mitigated.

For example, I make sure that adversaries of a project are on the steering committee where other management people can help rule them in. Or a sponsor that has no time for the project may just be bad in delegation and instilling trust in him or her and planting the idea to assign an acting sponsor worked for me. Or working in a matrix with more than 2 dimensions can be helpful and gives you some freedom because you just cannot ask 3 people for approval every time (they would not want it).

Stakeholder management is a challenge, but within this knowledge domain, the area which presents the “biggest problem” is when the practical (e.g., PM process and leadership-based practices) meets its surreptitious arbiter of truth – underground corporate politics.

Referencing the thoughts from @Thomas: In absolute terms, we should never influence by force, deception, or lies, as any PM action not based on an ethical foundation will find itself discovered in regret, loss, and ultimate failure.

At the same time, addressing subterfuge-based corporate politics requires awareness and political astuteness that some may say is outside the boundaries of project management or, maybe better stated, our ethical scope of operation.

Question: Is it above an “accountable PM’s” pay-grade to leverage the corporate politic to protect the integrity, outcomes, and deliverables of a project that is under siege when all normal and process-based channels of remedy have been exhausted?
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