Author: Greta Blash

Maximizing Team Effectiveness

As Project Managers we are responsible for the team we have been assigned.  Often we have no input into the selection or replacement of the team.  In these situations we need to make sure that we are able to maintain the best people, while improving the effectiveness of the others on the team.

I recently read a new book entitled No Nonsense Retention – Painless Strategies To Retain Your Best People by Jeff Kortes.  Even though the book addresses management issues that may lead to people leaving an organization, there were many good points that would apply to Project Managers as they manage a project team.

Some of the must-do actions include:

     1.     Supervisory Training – Even if the project manager does not hold the title of supervisor or manager, supervisory training can improve their ability to manage others.  Uniform, basic and consistent – without training “like sending warriors out to fight a war with outdated weapons”.  If the company is unable to provide this, take the initiative to continue your personal growth through training or reading books and/or articles on management topics.

     2.     Manage by walking around – With today’s communication technology we are often more apt to sit at a computer (or smartphone) rather than speaking directly with our team members.  Because the majority of messages are conveyed through body language, tone of your voice, and other non-verbal cues, this lack of personal contact can lead to miscommunication, confusion and a host of other problems.  Obviously this is easier to accomplish when the team is co-located rather than a virtual team, but this one-on-one communication becomes even more critical in the virtual team environment.  Not only does the Project Manager have a better understanding of what is happening by watching and communicating with team members as they perform their tasks, but the team members have a chance to get to know the project manager through these interactions. 

     3.     Know and understand each team member – It is important to understand each team member, not in a prying manner, but rather to understand what is important to each individual.  If you know about a person’s life, you will understand what motivates them.  Just as it is important to listen to our children, we must take the time to listen to our team members.  Make sure that you are available and accessible to your team members.

     4.     Treat everyone with respect – Respect is about how you treat a person.  How you demonstrate how you value that person is appreciation.  These two actions can set the tone of the team.  One of the first actions is to remember the importance of saying “please” and “thank you”.  It only takes a few extra keystrokes or seconds to include these in every request.

Another important demonstration of respect is to avoid jumping to conclusions.  It is critical that when situations arise that you investigate the situation by asking questions and listening to all sides of the story.

Make sure you not only tell your team members that you appreciate them – but also it is important to show them appreciation.  I personally always have some little candy bars or other “kudos” to recognize small achievements and recognition.

     5.     Convey expectations – It is important to make sure and convey what is expected of each team member, and then hold them accountable when they don’t meet the expectation.  Without both parts of this action, the project manager often sends a mixed message.  In order to make sure that the expectations are met, the team members must have the tools and supports that is needed to succeed. This includes examining any barriers that need to be removed to help them get back on track.

     6.     Remove underachievers – When the expectations are continually not met it is critical that the individual be removed from the project.  This is one of the hardest tasks that a project manager must perform.  If substandard performance continues, it affects the entire project team.  At first the rest of the team often takes up the slack “for the good of the team”, but after a while the bar is lowered and the overall quality of the project suffers.  When a piece of fruit in a bowl starts to decay, it doesn’t take long for the rest of the fruit to become affected.  The same is true of project teams.

Even though the book was geared to retaining good employees from an HR standpoint, many of the points are very apropos to the over team environment on projects.  Since most of these points were directed at the supervisor or manager, every project manager should take the time to evaluate their “team management” sphere of influence, and see if some adjustments are necessary.

Don’t forget to leave your comments below.


Greta Blash, PMP has a broad-based information technology background in all facets of project management, training, systems integration and software product management.  She has provided coaching and delivered training seminars for various companies in the areas of Project Management, Facilitation, Strategic Planning, Information and Data Modeling, as well as the Integration of Data and Process Modeling Techniques. She has written numerous articles and frequently speaks on the topics of Project Management, Business and Data Analysis, and Business Intelligence at conferences worldwide. She holds a Master degree in Information Management and a Bachelor degree in Math. She is the current VP of Education for the PMI chapter in Las Vegas.

 

Five Principles for Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary

Ptimes_June1_Feature_croppedI just finished reading another book by Joseph A. Michelli entitled: The Starbucks Experience:  5 Principles for Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary [1] that contains a robust blend of home- ingenuity and people-driven philosophies that made Starbucks one of the world’s most admired companies. The Starbuck’s experience can be found at two levels of the company. Its corporate culture encourages its leaders to create a unique culture for employees in which empowerment, entrepreneurship, quality and service defines the value of the firm. Employees, on the other level create a unique and personal experience for its customers which act as a blueprint to turn an ordinary experience of buying coffee into an extraordinary experience. Since I am a true believer of the Starbucks experience I was wondering how these five principles could apply to project management.

The five principles are:

  • Make It Your Own
  • Everything Matters
  • Surprise and Delight
  • Embrace Resistance
  • Leave Your Mark. 

Make It Your Own – With enough coffee, anything is possible. 

Project managers want the project team members to fully engage in their project work rather than simply going through the motions. Often team members don’t see how their efforts contribute to the success of the project and how the project can benefit the goals of the organization.  But project managers can provide a structure that allows team members to immerse themselves into their work so that they can inspire stakeholders and end users in extraordinary ways. Starbucks call this the “Five Ways of Being”:

  • Be welcoming; be cordial when you meet and greet other people and know their names
  • Be genuine; connect, discover and respond when interacting with others because you care
  • Be considerate; consider the needs of other above your needs
  • Be knowledgeable; add value to your effort by gaining as much work-related knowledge as required by attending training sessions, research background on the project’s subject matter, searching internet for information, etc.
  • Be Involved; active participation in all aspects of the project and not just your tasks, thus going beyond expectations.

Everything Matters – This coffee tastes like mud!  Well, it was ground this morning.  Old Vaudeville joke

The details matter. Missed details matter to stakeholders and end-users and can mean the difference between success and failure. What seems trivial to you may be very important to someone else. Ask the right questions looking for small stuff that needs your attention. Don’t make assumptions, especially if you know something about the subject matter. You may be overlooking something.

Surprise and Delight A cup of coffee shared with a friend is happiness tasted and time well spent.

Team members by nature are more comfortable with routine procedures and so are the stakeholders of your project. You should ask yourself, “What do my stakeholders expect from me and this project and what can we do to go beyond their expectations? Well a simple thing could be to bring donuts, bagels and Starbuck’s coffee to your next meeting or place documents in three ring binders with index tabs. But the best surprises are when your project finds better ways to improve your business and/or reduce costs in the organization.

Embrace Resistance – If this is coffee, then please-bring me some tea. But if this is tea, please bring me some coffee. Abraham Lincoln

Embracing resistance involves a set of complex skills that can enable a project to create relationship opportunities when confronted by skepticism, irritation or complaints. In projects inevitably something will go wrong and the project manager and team members must be willing to actively listen to criticism and address the complaints head on. When presented by a criticism or complaint, the project manager is given an opportunity to actually strengthen the relationship with stakeholders by thanking them for informing him/her of the problem so the situation can be handled immediately. Also the team members must be concerned about feedback, either positive or negative so they can also address issues that arise.

Leave Your Mark – Only one thing is certain about coffee. Wherever it is grown, sold, brewed, and consumed, there will be lively controversy, strong opinions, and good conversation. Mark Pendergrast

While achieving project success by improving the profits of the business or finding ways to lower costs are important, Starbucks believes an important part of business success is linked to the powerful impact that they have on their communities. Social involvement is integral to the Starbucks leadership mission by giving back to their communities and the environment.

Businesses are led by managers who understand the importance of investing in their people and their communities.

  • People prefer to do business with and work for socially conscious companies
  • The most talented and qualified applicants are increasingly considering a company’s ethics and community support as part of their decision regarding a position
  • Employee morale is three times higher in organizations that are actively involved in the community
  • When employees’ work environments match their personal values, they are more productive
  • Organizations that focus on environmental impact typically are valued more that those that don’t.

It doesn’t take much effort to find social programs your project team members can get involved with such events as walkathons, 5K runs, and various charitable events. This also helps to bond the project team members in a project.

For anyone who wants to learn from the best of the best, The Starbucks Experience, you will find this book a heady brew of unforgettable ideas. Take time to smell the coffee.

Don’t forget to leave your comments below.


Steve Blash, PMP  is an experienced IT professional project manager consultant providing leadership, mentoring, and training in Project Management. His areas of experience include business process improvement, business analysis, business intelligence, data analytics, project and IT management.

[1] The Starbucks Experience 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary, Author: Joseph A. Michelli, McGraw-Hill Press, 2007, ISBN:978-0-07-147784-0

Have a Nice Conflict

BATimes_May17_FeatureWe as Project Managers are often faced with difficult situations and have to resolve any and all conflicts that arise with our stakeholders.  We are very adept at our hard skills but often our soft skills go lacking.  One of the skills most often called upon, but in most cases the one we are the least comfortable with, is conflict resolution.  Most of us are conflict averse and unsure how to manage or resolve conflict.  We know that according to the PMBOK the preferred method of conflict resolution is “confrontation.”

But how do you “confront” a situation without experiencing a lingering effect? What you may think may be the right way to handle a conflict – may be perceived as the wrong way to the other person. Each person handles situations differently and understanding both ourselves as well as the other person helps to determine the best way to approach each of these individual conflicts and turn them into a positive change.

I recently finished reading Have a Nice Conflict [1] by Tim Scudder, Michael Patterson and Kent Mitchell. This book takes the Relationship Awareness motivational theory and explains it in a simple story format, which allows us to see ourselves in the behavior of the one of the main characters. This helped me bridge the gap from theory to real life, as well as making me want to learn more about the theory itself. It not only helped me understand myself and some of my behaviors but also reinforced the importance of collaborating more effectively with others through the appropriate choice of behaviors.

Since the subject was very timely to my current assignment I took the time to do a little more in-depth research on The Relationship Awareness Theory. I discovered that through the research that has been done, the theory helps us understand and infer the motives behind behaviors of both ourselves and others both when things are going well, as well as when there is conflict. The theory helps people recognize that they can choose the behaviors that are consistent with their values while also taking into account the values of others.

The four fundamental premises within Relationship Awareness Theory (as expressed in the Relationship Awareness Theory Manual of Administration and Interpretation) are:

  • 1. Behavior is Driven by Motivation for Self-Worth
  • 2. Motivation Changes in Conflict
  • 3. Personal Weakness are Overdone Strengths
  • 4. Personal Filters Influence Perception

This motivational theory combines the psychometric inventory of motivation from the work of Freud

and Fromm and addresses the motives that are behind our everyday behavior when we relate to others. Through a Strength Deployment Inventory, a set of Motivational Value Systems (MVS) has been developed, which describe self-worth in terms of positive strings, as shown in the table below [2]:

BAtimes_May17_Greta

We each need to identify our “color” and then choose what is right for the situation as well as the person with whom we are interacting. What color would you use to describe yourself?

Blue: Altruistic-Nurturing with concern for the protection, growth and welfare of others

Red: Assertive-Directing with concern for task accomplishment and concern for organization of people, time, money and any other resources to achieve desired results

Green: Analytic-Autonomizing with concern for assurance that things have been properly though out and concern for meaningful order being established and maintained

Red-Blue Blend: Assertive-Nurturing with concern for the protection, growth, and welfare of others through task accomplishment and leadership

Red-Green Blend: Judicious-Competing with concern for intelligent assertiveness, justice, leadership, order, and fairness in competition

Blue-Green Blend: Cautious-Supporting with concern for affirming and developing self-sufficiency in self and others and concern for thoughtful helpfulness with regard for justice

White: Flexible-Cohering with concern for flexibility, concern for the welfare and members of the group and for belonging to the group

These Motivational Value Systems have identified colors which relate to general themes or motives and the corresponding behaviors. These represent ways of relating to others when things are going well. There are four primary types of strengths and three blends. For example, “Blue” has to do with a desire to be altruistic and nurturing. People who are motivated by this desire tend to be seen by others as helpful. Each individual has some amount of each “color” but since no two individuals are alike, the strength of the “color” varies from individual to individual.

The first recommendation for the main character in the book was to identify his individual strength, or color, which translates into the basis for his behaviors. We all need to take the time to identify the “color” which matches our behavior. We also need to examine what effect our behavior has on others who have different strengths. Often we can avoid unwarranted conflict when we understand that others do not share our beliefs and motivations. As we become aware of the behaviors and gratifications that others seek from us, their behaviors become more understandable and we can avoid conflict that might have previously arisen.

The third premise of the theory which consumed the major part of the book, and that really struck home with me, comes directly from Fromm: a personal weakness is no more, nor no less, than the overdoing of a personal strength. We need to understand that personal strengths can quickly become personal weakness when we use, or “misuse/overuse” these strengths in a negative manner. This overuse may actually bring on conflict by our own behavior. To be self-confident can be a positive thing, but being overly self-confident may be looked upon as being arrogant. Overdoing of a trait, for example, is trusting to the point of being gullible, being cautious to the point of being suspicious. Perceived overdoing occurs when someone with high motivation values of one “color” interacts with someone with high motivation values of another “color”. This is often an over-reaction of a behavior in someone that we personally would feel as inappropriate for ourselves. When these strengths are overdone the ability to achieve a mutually productive environment is threatened. We need to assess the effectiveness of our strengths and beliefs and determine how best to apply these as we interact with people.

Through this book, Have a Nice Conflict, I have taken the time to reflect on situations of conflict that I have found myself. Through this reflection and additional research I feel that I more fully understand conflict and realize that there are tools that can be used to address, as well as avoid, conflict which in turn can lead to more positive relationships and outcomes.

Don’t forget to leave your comments below.


[1] Have a Nice Conflict, Tim Scudder, Michael Patterson, Kent Mitchell, Personal Strengths Publishing, Inc., 2011, ISBN: 978-1-932627-11-4

[2] http://www.personalstrengths.com/sdiblog/?p=129

Ten Lessons for Leading During Crisis

Ptimes_May18_FeatureOne thing I like to do is to read books on topics from other industries or disciplines that are related to project management and this week I read a book by Linda Henman on ‘Landing in the Executive Chair’ [1] where she talks about what a leader should learn in order to prepare for a crisis and what a leader should do during a crisis. Her book is essentially oriented towards business executives but there is a lot in it that also relates to managing projects.

Experienced project managers know that projects rarely go according to plan and sometimes a crisis will rear its ugly head when you are least expecting it. At the same time, this crisis can provide an opportunity for the project manager to excel, so project managers will find these ten lessons of great value in preparation to minimize the impact to their projects and their organizations.

In her book she quotes an English proverb; ‘A smooth sea never made a skilled mariner’ and I can attest that a smooth running project never makes a skilled project manager. I have managed several high risk projects that had failed previously and I have also managed projects where a crisis occurred and provided me the opportunity to demonstrate my leadership capabilities.

Lesson 1: Heed the Early Warning Signs

There are often early warning signs that a storm is brewing. Sailors have a saying, ‘Red sails in morning, sailor take warning, Red sails at night, sailors delight.’ Take notice of early warning signs in your project. Be aware of persistent customer, stakeholder or project member complaints, rumors, turnover in the project, and resistance to change due to innovation or technology.  These always seem to start off small and begin to swell. Don’t ignore them and find out exactly if there is the potential of a problem brewing over the horizon. 

Lesson 2: If You Can’t Prevent a Crisis, at Least Contain It

After a crisis has occurred, you will want to contain it as quickly as you can by getting accurate information as to what was the real cause of the crisis and what are the ramifications. Next you need to act quickly and decisively, communicating correctly to all levels while behaving ethically as you attempt to contain the crisis. These are the tools of Crisis Management which the project manager must deal with whenever an event occurs that may threaten to harm the project. Three elements which are common to most occurrences of crisis management:

  • threat to the project
  • element of surprise
  • short decision time

You want to stop the ship from sinking.

Lesson 3: Never Run Out of Altitude, Airspeed and Ideas at the Same Time

To ensure project success, the project manager should employ the following techniques during a crisis.

Altitude – This relates to maintaining focus on the big picture required for the leadership of a project such as project vision, critical thinking, ability to prioritize, motivation, and continually moving forward to accomplish objectives. 

Airspeed – This relates to the velocity and forces that make a project go forward such as building relationships, having a good sense of humor, motivation through follow through, willingness to listen, capacity to convey respect to others and their ideas, and confidence to tell project team members what they need to know. All of these fuel us to provide the airspeed to keep the project moving onward.  

Never Running out of Ideas – This relates to the project manager’s ability to brainstorm and incorporate creativity, maintain enthusiasm while challenging existing processes, inviting input from others from a variety of perspectives, and a willingness to try novel approaches and champion innovation. The author states: ‘Having ideas makes us mentally flexible, which in turn equips us to see things from several perspectives, tolerate uncertainty, adapt to changes, and solve problems in new ways.’

During rough seas, a skilled captain not only knows how to successfully navigate through the rough waters but at the same time displays confidence to the crew.

Lesson 4: Face Reality

There comes a time when we must formally acknowledge that a crisis has occurred and communicate this to everyone. Don’t ignore or deny the urgency and severity of the crisis but rather confront it and take charge of the situation. Don’t blame other people or external events for the cause of the crisis. Your job is to take resolve the situation as best you can. 

Lesson 5: Prepare, Don’t Practice Bleed

Practice bleeding is a term the author uses to describe the tendency to suffer before the real pain begins. This relates to how you handle risks that you have identified through your risk analysis but are unable to avoid, transfer or mitigate. You have accepted the chance that the risk can occur and that there is a high probability that it will play havoc with your project. The anticipation of the risk is causing the project manager, and the team, great pain and suffering (bleeding) well before its occurrence.  This in turn interferes with your ability to manage. Others will notice the distraction and your leadership will be in jeopardy.

Lesson 6: Be Realistic but Optimistic

Many people panic and become very pessimistic during a crisis, which can definitely and severely impact the project.  As a result, project team members will spend more time taking about the crisis than trying to work on it. It is best to be realistic and communicate a genuine, yet sensible assessment of the situation and be optimistic when seeking solutions.  Get the team involved to find work-around solutions.  All hands on deck.

Lesson 7: Take Charge of Communication

When a crisis takes place, people in the organization and project look for leadership to take charge and that is you, the project manager to tell the facts, define the situation and to provide hope that the situation is in good hands. The project manager should consider what needs to happen to lessen the crisis, what ambiguities needs to be cleared up, what needs to be communicated and what are people most concerned about.  Be aware of your non-verbal body language so that it is in sync with both your spoken and written messages. People can sense when they don’t match.

Lesson 8: Encourage and Listen to Impolite Candor

As a project manager, do you squash debate in favor of politeness or do you encourage robust difference of opinion?  After a storm has blown you off course, you want to make sure that you get your project back on course as soon as possible.  You want your team and the stakeholders to be open and feel free to express any and all alternatives to solving the problems caused by the crisis.   

Lesson 9: Exude Powerful Vulnerability

During a crisis, project managers can feel overwhelmed with responsibility and usually will try to solve the problem themselves. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses and admitting to your limitations will actually benefit you by acknowledging them and then enable you to find the right people to help you resolve the situation. This action will in fact strengthen your leadership ability since nobody really expects you to have all of the answers or go it alone.  You are the captain of the ship

Lesson 10: Respond Appropriately to the Media

When a very serious crisis occurs, many large organizations have public relation (PR) specialists who respond to the press but they need the detailed facts before taking action. The project manager needs to 

  • Cooperate with the PR specialists and not obstruct their discovery efforts
  • Minimize the lag time between the time the problem occurred and the response needed. Gather the facts as quickly as you can
  • Don’t respond to unfounded stories
  • Be transparent and avoid no comment. If you don’t know, then say you don’t know and convey that you will find out the answers as soon as possible
  • Don’t try to minimize to situation by comparing it to worse ones. Remember the PR disaster after the BP oil spill
  • Communicate effectively and don’t try to confuse the facts

I have only selected one chapter from this book to write about in this article but there are many other exciting leadership ideas contained in the other chapters such as decision-making, problem solving, attracting top talent, planning successfully, leading a team of virtuosos, and becoming a champion of change. I think that this book; Landing in the Executive Chair, should be required reading for project managers looking to implement effective leadership strategies in their projects and their careers.  

Don’t forget to leave your comments below.


Steve Blash, PMP  is an experienced IT professional project manager consultant providing leadership, mentoring, and training in Project Management. His areas of experience include business process improvement, business analysis, business intelligence, data analytics, project and IT management.

[1] Landing in the Executive Chair, Linda Henman, Career Press, 2011, ISBN: 978-1-60163-153-4

Who Manages the Project Manager?

If the project manager is responsible for projects with the responsibility and authority for a project, what is the role of the manager of the PM?

Little if any discussion is held regarding the organization in which the project manager resides, and more specifically to the management of the individual project manager.  Even in the many discussions of the PMO organization, the emphasis is on the role of the PMO and the support provided to the project management function.  In most organizations the project manager is given a process to follow, project governance standards to meet and project approval expectations.  The actual project work is expected to be determined by the project manager to be able to deliver a successfully completed project (on time, within budget, fulfillment of scope as well as customer satisfaction).

In the PMBOK there are a number of pages dedicated to talking about the role of the project manager in different types of organizations (functional, matrix and projectized).  The organizational structure has a great impact on the ability of the project manager to actually manage projects.  These also have an influence on the project team members and scope of the projects themselves.

Given the expectations of the project results, what is the real role of the manager of the project manager?  To ensure that the standards are met (an auditor of the process and results) – or a traditional role of a manager (a mentor and professional development facilitator)?

So what are the characteristics of a good manager?

We as project managers are “managers” who are responsible for developing and managing our project teams – but given the temporal nature of projects, this management is of limited duration and the team being managed changes frequently.   This is not the “manager/management” that I am referring to.  The more traditional personnel management role involves responsibility for administration, setting goals, mentoring and training to promote personal and professional growth.  The main job of a manager is to get things done through others rather than do it themselves. Since many managers of project managers were previously project managers themselves, it is hard to let go and “manage and lead” rather than “do.” 

When you engage staff, empower them, and let them grow and contribute – the results are very good.  The employees, and their attitudes, make all the difference in the world. 

Managers who are able to surround themselves with the best people with have the best chance to succeed.

Having been a manager at different levels in multiple organizations, I can attest to the fact that it is very hard to be a manager, much less a good manager.  The skills required to inspire, lead, make difficult decisions, properly allocate resources, hire the “right” people, etc. are some of the hardest skills to master.  In addition, mastering management skills requires a high level of interpersonal skills.

So what are the characteristics of a bad manager?

Unfortunately, organizations today seem to continue to reward those who sacrifice their time, their family and their lives over those who find ways to manage effectively, and become more efficient.  They regard this behavior with promotions and advancements.  These individuals may be highly qualified hands-on team members, but seldom have either the experience or skills to manage.  Because of this lack of experience they often do not have the soft skills needed to manage. 

Even the PMBOK provides a framework that an experienced project manager can work within and choose what is appropriate for each project.  Many of these processes, especially within the Human Resource and Communications knowledge areas, are applicable not only to projects but also to management in general.  Without previous experience the inexperienced manager often resorts to doing things as they have done in the past, rather than being able to apply what is appropriate for each situation they encounter.

Some of my personal observations of bad managers include:

Negative vs Positive reinforcement

The manager feels more comfortable criticizing poor behavior rather than providing a positive reinforcement environment for positive employee performance.  This may come as a result of feeling that no one can do the job as well as they might have done themselves. This negative view will not allow problems or mistakes to be forgotten and reminders of these negative events are continually mentioned.  This often includes quickly pointing the finger at the project manager when things go bad.  On the other hand when a project effort is successful, these same managers are the first ones to take personal credit for the success.  Rather than being a win-win situation, it quickly becomes a lose-lose environment where there is little incentive to strive for successful outcomes.

Conflict Management

Without the basic management skills, managers often lack the courage to deal with, or completely ignore a difficult situation (avoidance).  By not addressing these situations there is no leadership and the staff does not have a clear understanding of the appropriate actions to take.  Even on the PMP exam, the best way to handle a situation like this is “confrontation” – confront the situation and move on. It’s always easier to move to the outer edges of the conflict management chart rather than orchestrating a lasting solution.

Motivational Theories

Because of limited experiences, a bad manager often causes dissention among staff members by his or her actions and comments, often becoming a Theory X manager.  This can result in either taking an arrogant or authoritarian stance or micromanaging. Over time, and given more training and experience in a true personnel management role, hopefully the communication and personal skills will improve and allow the leadership style to move towards a Theory Y position.  This trust by management in the staff will increase the positive attitude of all, especially experienced project managers who resent being personally micro-managed.

Experience of the manager

In the economy we are living in today many very experienced project managers are now working in an environment where they are reporting to a manager who has very limited experience, both in management as well as the job itself.  This is often the result of internal promotions where a person who has progressed through many roles within an organization is therefore being rewarded for their years of service, rather than their experience and skill in the position they are assuming.  Is this a perfect example of the Peter Principal? The most important skills of a manager are vastly different from those of a technical lead. How is mentoring possible when the “mentoree” is often far more experienced than the “mentor?”  Obviously everyone can learn from others, but there is a fine line between providing guidance and being condescending. 

All of the above situations drain the spirit and commitment out of the best workers and rewards poor workers who learn how to ‘game’ the system and do just enough to survive.  But can a positive work environment exist, and successful projects completed when a negative environment exists?

Sometimes I wonder if it is only me who continues to have bad managers or whether my husband is right when he says there really are very few “good managers.”  In fact he attended a project manager’s conference last year where in one session of 30 project managers, over half were asked by their management to commit unethical activities. Some of them admitted they had no choice, some refused and some changed companies. 

What do you do when you find yourself in this situation?  What if you believe that your manager feels intimidated by you – even to the point of sabotaging your work or taking credit for it?  Should not a manager look for individuals with extensive experience (which might be more than their own hands-on experience) since if the efforts of the group are successful, then the manager will in turn be successful?

I invite you to express your experiences with your current or previous manager, either good or bad.  I would really like to know about your situation and how it made you feel.

Don’t forget to leave your comments below.

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