Project managers have a certain notoriety with their teams. They push team members to reduce their estimates for work. Once an agreed upon estimate is reached, the PM pushes the team to beat the estimate.
If the estimate can’t be beaten, it certainly has to be met. And there will usually be hell to pay if the estimate can’t be met. Now the task is behind. Because there are dependencies for other tasks, the entire project may fall behind.
This of course is scandalous. Project plans need to be updated. Change requests need to be completed. Executives need to be notified. Team members can be made to think that a one-day delay on a task could bring the entire organization to its knees.
But that is the project manager’s job. Keep people on task. Make sure the project stays on course. The project manager that runs the tightest ship will have a project that finishes on time and on budget. It’s even better if you deliver what the customer asked for.
In this environment of keeping everyone honest, does the project manager do a good job of keeping himself honest? Who keeps the project manager on task for meeting his or her commitments?
Many will say that the project manager doesn’t have that many specific commitments in the project plan. Most PMs have generic tasks and activities in a plan that include general management. In an agile or scrum environment, project managers don’t even have tags on the wall. Their tasks don’t get estimated or measured in the same measure that developers’ story points are gauged.
But the project manager has a different type of commitment. The day to day dealings with the team are how they estimate and commit to getting things done.
The tasks the other team members perform are documented in either a project plan or task cards on the wall. The project manger’s tasks are more nebulous.
A project manager may commit to meeting a team member one-on-one to discuss an issue. If he doesn’t show up, or arrives late, it sets a bad example regarding the importance of commitment.
One of the key purposes of a daily stand-up meeting is for team members to identify obstacles they are facing. The project manager’s – or scrum master’s – role is to facilitate removing that obstacle. This often involves working with someone else to solve a problem.
If the project manager drags his feet in working out a resolution, the obstacle remains for the next daily meeting. It could persist long enough to delay the team member’s task.
The project manager holds team members accountable for their commitments. In the same way, the PM should hold himself accountable for his own commitments.
It sets a strong example and it helps everyone else on the project to get their tasks completed on a timely basis.
Do you hold yourself accountable for tasks as well as you hold your team?
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