Sometimes the biggest issues facing a project manager, are the ones no one wants to talk about. These tales talk about that gorilla in the room and how to tackle him.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
But I like cake Gorilla
I look up from my computer screen, grinning. "So, Hogarth, how can you tell the project manager in the room?"
My Gorilla turns from the mini Christmas tree on my bookshelf. Holding the tiny glass ornament in his big hand he cocks a hairy eyebrow, "How?"
"By the knives in his back!" I grin merrily at the self deprecating joke.
Hogarth cocks his head to the side, peering at me quizzically, "But I like cake."
"What?" I return Hogarth's quizzical gaze. "Hogarth, what are you talking about?"
"I like cake, I'd rather use those knives to cut up the project end celebration cake."
And my retelling of a classic project management joke runs smack dab into the practicality of my Gorilla. In his own cake loving way he reminds me that there is more to a project than earning initial trust and delivering the project. In the 21st century, nine times out of ten, you have to get that team turned around and do it all over again.
Suddenly the joke loses its appeal. Not because we project managers can't make fun of ourselves, but because of the grains of truth in the joke. I touch on this in my 90 Day Gorilla post, but it goes beyond that first 90 days. If you are not constantly working on your relationship with your team, you will soon find that team wants nothing more than to see you go away. Sure you've helped their efficiency, you've helped their profitability, you've helped their exposure, but if they don't want to work with you, you've not helped yourself and the team won't work as well the next time.
Mark Horstman talks about MBWA, Management By Walking Around. This is just the tip of the iceberg, but is a great example in a nutshell. The key point on this is if you do not constantly work to make sure you have a good relationship, then at the end of the project you will be the one with the knife in your back, instead of using that knife to cut the cake.
Veteran, the Project Manager wars
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Take a little bit of the Lazy Project Manager, sprinkle in a healthy dose of Manager-Tools.com, a shake of Covey's 7 Habits and mix it with a “been there, done that, got the polo shirt” project management professional and you have Joel Bancroft-Connors, the Gorilla Project Manager.
In my time as a project manager I’ve made my own share of mis-steps and seen some outright disasters. My goal is to help others not make the same pitfalls so many of us have made already. If, in the process, I can bring a smile to a face then all the better. A happy project manager is a successful project manager.
In my spare time, between family and job, I love to write. Whether it's the Gorilla blog or fun fiction, putting pen to paper gives me a great amount of satisfaction.