As a project manager, your team is often a group of people who don’t understand the goal and have come to the ‘party’ late. Many of them will have been to parties with a very similar outcome.
It is interesting because this isn’t just a project management problem but is also a general management problem. We are always more comfortable with people who fit the mold than those who communicate what they believe is right. There are others who will tell you what they think you want to hear rather than what you need to hear.
Recently, I met with a group of individuals to talk about project strategy for a corporate initiative that will fundamentally re-architect the company. One of the team members asked ‘do you have a communications degree?’ Another remarked, ‘ if you don’t, how can you possibly know what to communicate?’
When you show up at a meeting with your posse (aka the support group – you know them – they never argue with you), you are sending an important message. The message? I need backup and confirmation that I am on the right track. This strategy works as long as the people that you surround yourself with will tell you ‘that the emperor has clothes’. Pragmatists will always tell you what is rather than what you want. It will be uncomfortable, but sometimes discomfort is character building.
Statistically, 70 – 90 % of a manager’s time is spent communicating. No where on planet Earth is a communications degree a requirement to manage a project or outcome to a successful conclusion or to communicate with a customer or a stakeholder. In fact, on most undertakings, the first question must be about experience and contribution not what was the undergraduate degree that you earned a lifetime ago.
The golden nugget for today is ” if you aren’t challenged by the people around you, you aren’t challenged at all. If you surround yourself by people who make you comfortable, you won’t grow.” If you aren’t willing to grow, “get on your horse, partner, and ride on out of town.” I think that was John Wayne but could be anyone who has been on the receiving end of someone who didn’t understand that team work includes diverse opinions that can synthesized into a single vision.
Surround yourself with people who tell you what is .. rather than what you want to hear .. the sound of reality will be amazing.