to start making some changes. I would suggest four
initial areas to start thinking about changing.
The first is your self-management style. Take
an objective look at how you manage things on a
day-to-day basis. Are you constantly in adrenaline
mode, responding to project fires on a daily basis?
These recurring and ongoing problems, which
require your attention all the time, mean stress
and anxiety in the long run. Would you describe
yourself as a “hero” project manager? It’s a difficult
concept to attribute to oneself, but you could actually be the reason for the fires in the first place,
enjoying the attention that being the fixer brings.
Your stress levels could also be the product of
people in and around the project: a demanding
stakeholder or unproductive team member who
requires extra attention. Maybe the milestones are
unrealistic, or you just feel out of your depth on
this particular project.
Making time to think through what is happening right now in your work—perhaps talking it
through with a family member or friend—will help
you to start seeing the situation a little clearer.
The second area to consider is delegating. This
is a skill that project managers find notoriously
difficult to master. After all, aren’t good project
managers all about control? Find the areas of your
day-to-day role where some of the work can be
handed off. This can mean shifting tasks to the
project management office, members of your proj-
ect team or another project manager with time
available. Don’t be afraid to ask peers; this is just
another resource management requirement on a
busy project and no reflection on your ability to
manage your work.
The third area is your work outputs. Ask yourself, “Is my work good enough?” What is more
important: that the job gets done or that it gets
done perfectly? To gain a healthier balance in your
life right now there will need to be a trade-off, and
learning to let go will help you get there.
Finally, just say no. If work is already feeling
overloaded, don’t add further weight to your
shoulders by taking on any extra organizational
or personal responsibilities. The trick to saying no
is to keep it simple without getting into the whys
and wherefores. Don’t buy the flattery as someone
tries to persuade you differently.
Make a change in your work by doing so in small,
manageable steps. Take it easy on yourself until you
manage to find the right equilibrium again.
Q: I work for a nongovernmental organi-
zation (NGO), and I’m a member of PMI.
Could you point me toward any development
resources I could use specifically in this sector?
A: I know the importance of good project
management in NGOs and how some elements
of project delivery can differ from other sectors.
You may already be aware of the PMI Educational
Foundation and the specific resources there for
NGOs and other not-for-profit organizations. Plus,
development programs and credentials like the
Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification look at both the technical and behavioral sides
of project management, which is also of benefit. PM
Lindsay Scott is the director of program and
project management recruitment at Arras
People in London, England.
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