We often joke around here that sometimes the role of Project Manager feels like the role of Parent. Obviously there are some differences like the length of the commitment (a lifetime vs. a temporary effort), the foundation of the relationship (love rather than money) and the overall benefits (I’m proud of my clients and all – but you should meet my kid!).
You might be a dad (or mom) today – or maybe you’ve been a guardian or parent figure for someone at some point in your life. In any of those cases, the responsibility and stress of the job can sometimes be overwhelming. What makes it all worthwhile is that you get to experience the results first hand.
As a Project Manager, guiding your team and your clients through a project has some parallel experiences. And honestly, some of the approaches to the challenges aren’t always that different than some I’ve undertaken as a parent. As a PM – or a Parent – you want:
Clear Understanding of Your Goal – Preparation for your project to go-live in production (or your kid to go-live, so to speak – i.e. ready for life on their own)
Open and Honest Real-time Communications – PM or Parent – this is critical to keep us all on track and in line with your Goal.
Flexibility for Life Direction Changes – The only constant is change, right? As a PM or a Parent, we need to be ready to deal with new challenges and all of the fun that they bring.
But unlike a PM, when you are a Parent – your “project” timeline is for life! You really only step down from that active role when your kid comes to you to take away your car keys – or something along those lines. Then you are someone else’s project! (I did mention that parenthood had a few benefits.)
Of course the transition to Parenting the Parent can be one of those not-so-fun Life Direction changes. There will be disagreements – and likely Excedrin. But if you focus on the goal, keep communications open and be flexible – all should survive.
While the long term cost in energy, sleepless nights, physical pain and other worries is the investment. That smile, loving touch or similar expressions of appreciation can easily replenish the “commitment tank” for the next journey.
And when the work is done right, there is contentment with all of the effort it took versus the result that was achieved.
To all of you family Project Managers that get celebrated with your “parent day”, I pray and wish you the joy you deserve. And for all of you “kids” that benefited from this parent/project management (which is all of us) – value being a part of it and get ready. You will most likely get to be a PM for them!
Wes Haubein is the President of HL Group, Inc., a premier provider of mobile asset inventory management and warehouse solutions. He writes regularly about management, solution integration and technology.