Tell me, how do you think things through? Do you look at a big problem with all its facets and panic, not knowing how to overcome all the little hurdles you need to in order to solve it? Yep, me too.
What about when you do understand what you have to do, but you don’t know how to do it? Does it make you break out in cold sweat? If you do, you can join my club.
Do you wonder if you have the ability to win people over so that they accept what you’re telling them and believe in you? I won’t lie, I struggle with that everyday.
These happen to all of us. We would not be human if it didn’t. So why do I believe that some people – and I include myself in this group – are born to manage projects?
I guess to oversimplify a complex thing, the first thing I’ll say is that every project is a learning curve. It’s either a new initiative in an old organisation, an old initiative in a new organisation, or a new initiative in a new organisation, but what it will definitely be is different from anything you’ve ever done before. Because if it was done before, they wouldn’t need a project manager to tell them how to do it again.
Mind you, not everything will be different (or my experience would count for nothing) but there will be enough new challenges that you’re swimming in some new waters each time.
For me, putting order to chaos thrills me. Yes I panic when I get that first macro view of the problem and I will spend a long time believing I can’t possibly figure it out. But I will worry at it, and obsess about it, and then suddenly I can see it, how to make sense of it, and that panic subsides.
And then when I realise what I need to do, and again I need to organise my thoughts, figure out the steps, talk to people, work out how to eat that proverbial elephant one bite at a time. And then document it all so I remember it and I can show other people how I intend to do it.
This is when I have to involve the people who want me to fix the problem. I overlay over the top of my ideas their wants, their needs, their choices and their constraints and use every single endearing personality trait I possess to ensure that they trust in me, that they believe me, and that they accept what I’m telling them.
IF that happens, I need to get other people together who will help me achieve it all. And I have to make sure they have the right skills and the right aptitude to do the job.
IF they do have the skills to do their jobs, then what I have to fix is every single thing that may be blocking them from actually doing it. Every day. While also reminding them daily what they have to achieve, and by when.
And always, always talking to the people who want me to solve the problem. So we all remain clear on what we all want to get out of it.
IF it changes, to explain to everyone how it may change the way the problem is solved. If they still want to change it, then to reorganise my ideas, my plans and my people to make it happen.
And knowing every step of the way that I may fail. I may screw up. I may put the wrong jigsaw puzzle piece in the wrong place and not realise it until it’s too late. I LOVE it anyway.
Because a Project Manager who was born to it will feed off that rush, and be prepared to ignore the tedium, the doubts and the stress just to feel it.
Who will be willing, at the end of it, to hand their work off for someone else to look after, knowing you did the best job they could have, and knowing they now have to move on to the next problem to go through it all again.
That does take a person who is born to it, in my opinion. Because who would do it otherwise?