Technology has inundated our lives to the point where just the thought of leaving your phone elsewhere is paralyzing. You must be connected at all times just in case. In case of what? The unknown.
The unknown is scary. What if somebody called me? Who could have called? What if I am the only one with the answer? How will the project survive without me?
These fanciful ideas of your own importance are common because of this constant connection to the world. Your team probably appreciates your occasional absence. They’re likely to be getting on just fine. Instead of a watchful eye of which they are wary, they can actually get some work done. If your team falls apart the moment you’re not there, it may be an indication of your management style and a lack of capacity and capability that you’ve built in your team).
Technology emphasizes that desire to be important. Social media shines a spotlight on our highlights and pushes away any lowlights. Who wants to see you pulling your hair out because of a delayed vendor when they can see pictures of your vacation from a year ago?
Technology is not all bad. It has made project management easier. You can track, control, and execute projects much more quickly with the advent of cell phones, laptops, and software. With its constant connectedness, you can reach anybody at any time anywhere in the world. There is no excuse for not getting a message as one can be sent a million different ways.
However, with the implementation of technology, project management becomes people management. Technology levels the playing field of knowledge. Anyone can search online for the answer. There is no need to memorize facts or statistics when a smartphone in our pocket has processing power never seen before.
If you think you need a fancy application or the latest tactic to manage a project, you are looking in the wrong places. Get back to people management. Soft skills are the differentiator in project managers nowadays.
So, what characteristics are key for effective project managers?
If you have a strong relationship with a vendor or owner, they are more likely to go that extra mile in times of need. If you are a name on a computer screen with a fancy signature line, you are a cog in the machine.
Many times, I have had to make a call on Friday evening for a vendor or technician to drive across town in weekend traffic to take care of an emergency. Continually, these individuals do not hesitate to do so. If you treat them right, week after week, they will reciprocate.
You provide these vendors and subcontractors with continual work, and they find it easy to drive across town to take care of your issue. You become a priority because of your treatment towards them.
If you treat people with respect and decency, the favor is returned. If you try to catch them in lies and provide screenshot texts of agreements you had, they start to question your motives.
The planning is done. The words have been spoken. The team is assembled. There is only one thing left to do: act. Start doing the things you talk about doing. Technology makes it easier to share your opinion. If you are reading this, this qualifies as such.
Rather than just talking about what could be done better, I would rather share stories of things I have done and what I could have done better for your benefit. Do not make the same mistakes and here is how to avoid those traps.
Let your resume and reputation do the talking for you. There is no need to hang countless framed pieces of paper in your office to prove your authority. We can all agree that a string of initials is a great accomplishment for anyone, however, its important to be aware that your authority is not linked to your credentials but rather your actions and your interactions with others. Your credentials don’t necessarily guarantee that you can take a team, turn them around, motivate and uplift them.
Time management expert
If an activity or team member is not moving the project forward, it can be time to purge. Eliminate any unnecessary tasks. Answering every email as it comes in is a time waster. Reacting to every work order, a tenant submits as if it is ASAP is a time waster. These activities only increase stress and lead to less production.
Set out blocks of time to deal with important issues. No distractions, just work. If you have to-do lists of activities that never get done, how important are they? Probably not very. You should purge those immediately.
Doing more with less is the goal. Use the 80/20 analysis to find the activities with the most impact, the team members, vendors, and so on. Once identified, start to cut loose the baggage. All the negative impacts on the project must go immediately. No hesitation.
Technology is great when it works. However, lately, I have seen an increasingly negative impact due to the increased use of technology. Bosses are asking employees to be available during vacations, weekends, or after hours. This blurred line between life and work does not work in anyone’s favor.
When you build positive relationships with the people you work with, you become someone they want to speak to and to whom they are willing to offer help. You display your leadership through action rather than processes or practices designed to turn everyone into a robot. You purge those individuals and activities who do not promote this environment. Positivity and optimism are themes amongst successful teams. The moment there is fighting and finger-pointing is the second the bell curve starts to decline.
Christopher Cook, PMP, MSPM, has an extensive career in the construction industry. Throughout his career, he has been awarded over 40 construction projects that have yielded a 10% profit for each organization. He has a Bachelor’s of Science in Industrial Technology Management with an emphasis on Building Construction Management and Master’s of Science in Project Management. To find out more about him visit EntrePMeur. Christopher writes about strategy and cost management.