The Cost of Misrepresentation: Lessons Learned from a Project Manager’s Lack of Self-Awareness

Filed under Leadership, Lessons Learned | Posted by MMeloni

Picture this: a project manager walks into a room to facilitate his first meeting with a new team. After 90 minutes, the meeting ends, but the aftermath is less than desirable. The director of the project office is worried about another bad hire, the technical lead is disappointed in the project manager’s lack of organizational and relationship-building skills, and the project manager thinks he gave a great first impression.

So what went wrong? Here’s a breakdown: the meeting was supposed to be a one-hour initial project strategy session, but the project manager didn’t bring an agenda and spent the entire time telling the team how and when the work should be accomplished. Additionally, when the technical lead tried to ask a question, the project manager brushed him off and refused to stick to the scheduled one hour. Needless to say, it wasn’t a great start for the project manager.

Now let’s rewind to the interview between the director of the project office and the project manager. When asked what he brings to the table, the project manager responded with confidence that he’s organized, a specialist in helping disorganized and dysfunctional teams, and an excellent relationship builder. However, as we saw in the previous scenario, the reality is quite different. The project manager may consider himself as having a professional brand of being organized, intelligent, and a relationship builder, but that’s not how others perceive him.

It’s clear that the project manager needs to either change his behavior or re-evaluate his professional brand. One way to do this is by soliciting feedback from peers, superiors, and subordinates to see if they recognize his brand image. If they don’t, then it’s time for the project manager to make a change. He can either stop describing himself as organized and a relationship builder or begin acting like one. The choice is up to him.

Remember, being a project manager is not just about being organized and intelligent. It’s about being a people person who can build relationships and work collaboratively with a team. So, let’s learn from this situation and strive to be the best project managers we can be.