Personal awareness for project managers

This blog was first published in 2008! Over the last 12 months I have had many conversations with  project managers and personal awareness does not seem to be as high as it could be. I have therefore slightly amended the original blog below. I hope you find it useful. 


‘The bad news is that time flies. The good news is – you’re the pilot’. Michael Altshuler

Project Manager Alan Peter* had a reputation and was known throughout the organisation – for all the wrong reasons!

‘Ron,’ he confided, handing me a glass of red wine ‘the problem is I cannot settle down. I seem to flit from project to project without any clear steer’. He gave a half smile, took a sip from his glass ‘To be honest, I am not clear what my overall plans are for today, and as for next week – phew! – no chance!’

I said nothing as he motioned us to sit down on lounge chairs at the end of the bar away from the main hubbub of the conference lunch.

He went on, ‘You see, I love email….’ he paused and ‘….and I have been told I interrupt too many meetings and people……’ He quickly took a large gulp of his wine.

I watched him as he then started to twirl the stem of the large glass.

He was really disorganised.

‘How would you describe your meeting style Alan’, I ventured.

Did the wine help him be more aware?

‘My meeting style? Hah!’ he shook his head. ‘Well, kind of…er…’he struggled for words, ‘Open, yes definitely ‘ open’! I let him continue. ‘No agendas Ron, usually last a good couple of hours.. …is that the sort of thing you mean?’

He then gave a hollow laugh, ‘Yeah, its rubbish isn’t it! Ok, OK, Ron, what’s going wrong? What can I do about it? I’m not enjoying my work and I do get the feeling people do not enjoy working with and for me.

Well I said you have taken the first step. He looked at me and asked, ‘what do you mean?’

‘You recognise that something is not right. You are not enjoying your work. You are suggesting that you do not seem quite as well organised as you should clearly be. You admit to a number of areas where you can improve on. Many many people do not get anywhere as close as you to looking at themselves and admitting to areas to improve on.

He visible perked up at this point.

‘So, let’s come back to what you can do about it……’

Personally aware but what can you do about it?

We spent 6 sessions going over his work. I acted as his coach and listened to him, asked appropriate questions and made some suggestions, including getting some feedback from his colleagues. It was as he said very painful. He read, he analysed and found out that he was known throughout the organisation – for the wrong reasons. So he started to do things differently. He started to change his behaviour.

That was 8 months ago and now he has smartened up his act. He has developed some really strong self management techniques. He regularly delivers against his milestones and his reputation has risen in the organisation. He even has a favourite quote:

“For every minute spent in organising, an hour is earned” Benjamin Franklin

So project managers, how aware are you of how you spend your time?  What do people say about the way you organise yourself and others? Where do you need to develop and what new behaviours do you need to adopt and which ones to let go? Over to you!


Picture courtesy of Google Images (Usage rights/labelled for reuse with modifications)

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