Earlier this week, we discussed some best practices for project management, as well as strategies for managing the politics that are commonly involved in the project management process. Today, we’ll look at some additional pointers for navigating this project management process. At the end of this article we’ve also included a presentation that encapsulates the key elements to navigating project management politics.
Promote full disclosure and openness
Know that the job of a leader is not to make the right decision, but to make sure the right decision is made. Part of succeeding in this is getting the right people in the room. Very often, the answer is waiting to be said, so learn to listen just as well as you talk. Set a standard of communication by encouraging open and candid discussions. Look at the facts in an honest way all the time (don’t sugarcoat problems). Promote full sharing of information, bring forth issues and deal with them (it’s ok; there is no such thing as a perfect project).
Decipher between good politics and bad politics by sharing information openly (unless there is something confidential to say, your stakeholders should be saying it at the project meeting table, not forming a line outside your office after the meeting). If you get caught choosing sides based on anything other than facts, you’ve already lost by way of practicing bad politics.
Restrain your self-brilliance, have humility, and acknowledge that you are there to serve
You have likely been chosen as the project leader for good reason. At the same time, be humble and acknowledge how fortunate you are for being in that project management position. There are probably millions of people out there who would do anything to be in your shoes, but circumstance has not given them the opportunity you have. Therefore, know that you have deep obligations to perform your duty as project leader with diligence at all times.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking success is a given (your past success is not a guarantee for the future, or even for the present). You’ll need to strive for it through the standards you set and live by today, right now. When living by these standards, know that you will be measured by what you leave behind.
Acknowledge that everyone on the project (including you) is there to serve. No matter what the incentive or compensation system is, do the right thing for the project anyway. When problems inevitably arise (no project is ever perfect), make sure the right people are there to help solve it. It is important to also remember that project success is team driven, not individually driven.
You are bound to get the most performance out of your stakeholders by giving them the authority to speak up as individual leaders amongst a group of leaders working together for the common benefit. You will learn more about your stakeholders this way, and are likely to uncover immense hidden potential.
The success of your group as a whole tells people a lot more about your leadership and project management skills than your individual success.
For more guidance, check out our Guide to Navigating Project Management Politics presentation.
Demetrios Gianniris is Director of Startups, Relocations and Projects (SRP) at Eze Castle Integration. He is responsible for overseeing the daily administration and operations of the Project Management team, including project design development, construction management, professional services and information technology consulting. Follow Demetrios on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dgianniris.
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