Trusting the Expertise of Project Managers
Trusting others to know how to do their job is an important part of project management. This applies to both project manager and team member. I find it strange how even the slightest mistrust can lead to miscommunication, anger, and even unethical decisions. There are viable reasons for trust to break, of course, but sometimes, the problems in a project just arise from small moments of mistrust. In this article I wish to discuss the error of mistrusting the legitimacy of another personís job role and expertise.
My friend and I went snowshoeing to my cabin in the Uinta Mountains of Utah. The snow was ten feet deep, and the shack was stocked with only a half dayís worth of firewood, and if we did not cut more wood, weíd have to leave.
We werenít in a dangerous situation by any means, so we decided to have a little fun with it. We found one of the biggest dead trees we could find. With only an axe, I told my friend that it would take a long time. He didnít believe me, though he had neither done a winter excursion nor cut trees (which I had been doing for years). I was fully prepared to cut this big tree down, and I wanted him to be prepared for how difficult it would be.
Being so cold it was especially hard, and he watched, eagerly waiting for his turn to show his strength. As I slowly chipped away, my friendís impatience prompted him take the axe. He wailed at the trunk, cutting off several big chunks in rapid succession. But it took only a few minutes for him to wear out completely. Breathing subzero air at over 9000 feet in elevation was not easy, and strenuous activity was next to impossible.
It took us three hours to cut down the tree. I had a blast, but my friend was starting to hate the trip. We still had to chop this giant tree into a bunch of logs small enough to fit in the fireplace. Then, when I insisted that we needed more fuel, my friend still didnít believe me.
I like to refer to this story when I engage in projects that seem fun but a bit excessive. From this experience, I try to be realistic in what to expect - even if that means to expect the unexpected. For me, it is worth the extra effort to ďgo bigĒ and have fun while doing it, but I want to make sure everyone is prepared to accept what they may not understand at first.
Having fun while feeling accomplished is not only a huge part of project management but vital to a healthy work life. It begins with a foundation of trust, and especially with a trust for the expertise of others. When a project manager says that a project will be difficult or time consuming, it should be assumed that the project manager knows what he or she is talking about. Opinions can still be properly challenged, of course, but letting that opinion fracture trust can lead to problems. And overall, mistrusting experience not only underestimates an opinion, but it devalues the actual person.
When engaged in any project, no matter how excessive and no matter how unappealing it seems, trust is the glue to successful project management. Then, as the project moves along and personal biases are extinguished, trust maintains an environment of productivity and enjoyment.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Combining his personal experiences, social observations, and a variety of philosophies, Robert Steele provides explanations to today's best practices of business management. He is an avid contributor to the ongoing discussion regarding the modern implications of project portfolio management ( PPM ).