Illusions or first mistake of project manager
So it’s your time of glory. Finally, you became the one whom you didn’t even dream to be in childhood, but with pure enthusiasm wanted to be as soon as came to IT.
Finally, you’ve joined the junior officers ranks and now legally allowed to wear mustaches. You became project manager – young, promising, power-thirsty and ready to conquer the highest peaks specialist who had heard somewhere, read and learnt something about managing people, who finished some courses and maybe even got a few valid certificates. Now the gates of perspectives, dreams and ambitious plans are wide-open before you.
It’s not surprising you couldn’t sleep before your first official working day as PM. You were building strategies and plans, thinking of upheavals, reforms and coming up with your own style of management.
This is not a fairy tale.
You were building the illusion that from the very first minutes slipped through fingers like a sand. But I assure you it is not global conspiracy – books you’ve read had never lied to you and the courses were run not by charlatans, but smart and really sensible people. It’s just not a fairy tale you got in. People you start working with are not book heroes. They are real people – unique, capricious and naughty. They are people whose attitude and beliefs are changeable and mood swings are normal thing.
And here you are, disappointed and stuck in the impasse of misunderstandings and minor conflicts with your teammates, intensively trying to tie them by the nets of procedures, regulations and your own rules. But very soon you realize that procedures are improper, regulations are stupid, and your rules steadily and consistently hitting the rocks of stubbornness and ignorance of your teammates. So you’re trying to change procedures and enhance regulations by your own, as you think, correct vision. But you’re still a junior officer and your ideas, to put it mildly, are not interesting for guys at the top.
What’s next? Don’t you deserve to lead your own “Spartans”? Disappointment is growing. You lose enthusiasm, motivation and stimulus to work. Your confidence has been shaken, it’s the first serious crisis with you as project manager. You start to analyse actions and recall the time when everything went wrong. Why all approaches you’ve learnt by heart are not working as you’ve expected? Why the effect is completely different than in the books?
Don’t build illusions.
There are no fast and the only right answers to these questions. However, the situation like this can be easily avoided by not building any illusions. Don’t project the “book histories” on real people, because all the subtleties of the person’s behavior can’t be predicted by any author. All these thoughts about managing people are no more than the theory. This is direction that showing the destination point, not a specific route you should go by.
Let’s be realistic, most often we build teams with material that is available. It doesn’t mean it’s bad or good. To be honest, it doesn’t mean anything at all. Even the most beautiful diamond is the achievement of a master, not nature, that provided the material. What needs to be done, it’s to find the right approach and the right tools to do things right.