Project Management Role: Removing Obstacles

Project Management Role
Project Management Role: Removing Obstacles

When the role of project manager is brought up in every day conversation, many people think of the task-master, always trying to get status from the team member, reminding him of just how late he is on his task.

One can almost picture the PM standing there pointing to her watch, tapping her toe impatiently.

Seasoned project managers will remind you that they do their share of paperwork as well.  There are status reports to write, project plans to create and maintain, and let’s not forget the risk register and issues log that require constant attention.

Another project management role

It’s probably because the title includes the word “management” that we think of all of these management techniques and tactics. But it is also a leadership role. The project management role is responsible for motivating the team and providing a vision for the project. This helps all stakeholders drive toward a commonly agreed upon goal.

One of the most important leadership roles the project manager can play is that of removing obstacles.

Whether you practice agile project management or not, an effective way of getting updates from your team is the daily stand-up meeting. It should only take fifteen minutes every day if each person lives up to their responsibility. That responsibility is to give three, and only three, pieces of information. What they accomplished yesterday, what they plan to accomplish tomorrow and any obstacles that are in their way.

The accomplishments and planned tasks for the day give the rest of the team an idea of the status of any related tasks. If someone is ahead on their work and will get it done a day early, he knows that he can start his task earlier than planned.

Related post: Do You Manage Like a Coach or a Referee?

What are the obstacles?

The project manager should pay close attention to the obstacles. An obstacle could be a technical issue that is slowing the team member down. It could be someone in another department that hasn’t responded to a request. It could just be a lack of knowledge in a certain area.

The goal is not to remove the obstacles during the meeting. The project manager can delegate someone to resolve the issue or resolve it herself after the meeting. That may mean meeting with another team member separately after the meeting or taking the action herself.

Managers, particularly new ones, often cop the attitude that the project team is subservient to them. In reality, the project manager is a support role for the team.  The PM removes the obstacles the team members are facing to help them be more productive to meet their commitments.

When was the last time you performed your project management role of removing obstacles?

For more information, check out The Importance of Leadership in Project Management

If you would like to learn more about a career in Project Management, get Lew’s book Project Management 101: 101 Tips for Success in Project Management on Amazon.

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