More PM soft skills, please!

People who have been following me know that my position on being a PM is simple. A project manager does what it takes to get a job done. A lot of times that means talking people off ledges, holding Kleenexes out, buying beers and staring at the wall mindlessly blinking when nobody’s looking. I keep a little bottle of Xanax in the back of my desk drawer (they’re for me).

I always called it the “Forrest Gump” aspect of project management. Sometimes things happen and you just have to deal…often that means showing a little vulnerability to win people back to the project. This shouldn’t be excessive (i.e., resources hold the PM hostage), but projects can get tough and when they do, people you’d expect to hold up against a typhoon suddenly turn to jelly.

If the PM takes a pure task management approach, but ignores the human side of the work, he may be justified in that “he did what the the methodology instructed”. But if the result is, a key resource throws his hands up in the air from stress and walks away, the project now has a huge hole. For good or bad, what has been accomplished?

For all the resources on PM best practices, methodologies and procedures, I find folks are pretty quiet about those soft skills that a PM needs, probably more than anything else, to keep projects moving along.

I’m on Twitter @PapercutPM. I’d like to hear your 140 character stories about how you hold your teams together!

I’m a professor of project management at the college where I work. My students continually amaze me with their insights, passion and all-around awesomeness. I figure they deserve access to more answers than I can give them by myself. This site is for them.
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