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Pressures of Being a Project Manager

As a Project Manager (PM) you have full accountability for the project success. Project Management Leadership can get quite warm to downright hot due to the pressures faced. I believe there are two kinds of pressures any project manager experiences leading a project. Those imposed by the project and those the PM imposes on him/herself. Project execution imposes pressure in terms of delivery dates, resources, budget, and so on, that you can learn how to handle through education. So, I am sharing my top four self-imposed pressures.

Self-imposed Pressures

#1 Trying to be popular! It isn’t important to be popular. It is important to be respected by upper management, all stakeholders, and your team. Respect comes from follow-through and having the project health at heart always. Some say respect comes from consistency. Being consistent in behavior is good. Be careful of being predictable by consistently making the same decision, e.g. being a ‘yes’ person. It’s more valuable to do what you say you will do or deliver. You are not going to be everyone’s friend no matter what you do!

#2 Expectation! Feeling you have to be right all the time or at the least have the right answer every time. It is okay not to know everything; you have team members and subject matter experts (SME) that can help answer questions. Or, feeling you have to have every solution. Your responsibility is to FIND a solution. Draw on the experience of lessons learned on previous projects, peers, team members, and SMEs. Ask for help and be able to explain the problem clearly and concisely. Most of the time people will be glad to help.

#3 Expectation, Too! – Thinking you have to deliver every project perfectly or you’ll be assigned smaller, less value projects or worse. No, you have to make sure that proper Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are in place for your performance and an agreed upon success criterion for the project. If your company or client doesn’t have KPIs make some suggestions and write the agreed upon ones into project management plan. Build the project success criterion by interviewing the sponsor and stakeholders. Take all the input and write up the success criterion, get it approved (in writing) by all. Make it part of the project management plan.

#4 Anxiety! Thinking you can’t speak frankly with the president of your company or the client. As the assigned PM you are accountable for delivering a successful project. After there is a signed project management plan in place, the PM owns it! If individuals aren’t following the plan, which includes budget, schedule, procurement, human resources, etc. then a modification of behavior of those individuals is necessary. No yelling or nastiness, just inquire into the situation to discuss what is or isn’t happening. Note: Sometimes Sponsors have this discussion with C-level management but I have seen PMs that have to have the ‘hard’ talk with CEOs (they don’t always know they are interfering. Be Nice!)

So, there are my top four. You probably identify with them and can add some of your own. Teach yourself to identify and get rid of the self-imposed pressures. You’ll be happier!