Have you ever watched a president’s State of the Union Address? Regardless of the president or his party affiliation, the President tends to describe utopia. If you knew nothing else about what was going on, you would believe that that particular president was accomplishing all of the problems in the world.
If you think about it, the State of the Union Address is essentially a status report. The President is submitting a status report to Congress. Congress is, in a way, his steering committee. They may not be the President’s superiors and approve his initiatives. But the President is required by the constitution to present this status annually.
The State of the Project Address
A project manager presents status to management, usually on a weekly basis. Status can be presented to an executive steering committee on a bi-weekly or monthly basis. The presentation of the project’s status is a chance for the project manager to demonstrate to management how much value the project is adding to the organization.
It is also an opportunity for the project manager to do some personal branding. While she is showing management how much the project is doing for them, she may want to let them see just how effective she is.
The implied logic is that it may not be enough to show management the value of the project. They probably already know that or they wouldn’t have approved it in the first place.
If the project manager wants to be considered for big, high-profile projects in the future, she needs to let management know how effective she is.
Blowing your own horn
The project manager should be wary of appearing to blow her own horn. The executive is interested in hearing facts:
- What has been accomplished on the project?
- What is in progress?
- What should we expect from you in the next status?
- What issues or risks are preventing you from achieving your goals?
They could perceive that the project manager is promoting herself and seeking credit for all of the project’s accomplishments. The President knows that, in addition to presenting to the joint session of congress, he is televised in front of millions of viewers. Most of those viewers are voters that may judge him for re-election. He has a vested interest in making them see the value of the accomplishments. But he’s more interested in the voters seeing the value he adds as an effective leader.
Management within an organization should imply that if the project is completed successfully, the project manager was effective. Seeking credit will most likely backfire. Good management will recognize that the project manager is claiming credit for what the rest of the team is accomplishing.
Sharing credit with the team members will work to the project manager’s advantage. Senior management will recognize the project manager’s value when giving credit to the hard work of the team members. They will assume that the team members are working hard and adding value due to the leadership capabilities of the PM.
Most of us like to receive accolades for our hard work. Effective leaders need to understand that soliciting credit – whether explicitly or implicitly – can end up hurting the chances of getting that credit. Leaders receive credit for adding value. If a project manager can demonstrate value by the team, they will likely receive credit for that value creation.
Do you take credit or demonstrate value in your status meetings?
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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