Managers have two major responsibilities – the management of people and the management of work (if you don’t do either, you are not really a manager). All managers need to have timely, relevant and accurate information so that they can manage their people and work effectively. But how do you need, and how frequently do you need it.
Check these three types of project managers. See if you fit one profile more closely.
Some project managers like to stay out of the details. They may be able to tell you whether the project is generally on schedule, but not what the project team members are working on at any given time. This manager assigns large chunks of work – maybe 4, 6, 8 weeks at a time. The manager than lets the team work out the details to complete the work on time.
Sometimes this works fine. However, in some cases, these managers need to get engaged in the details of a project to determine what is going on, and they are not able to do it. Sometimes, they prefer to stick with the “big picture” even when the project is a mess.
On the other hand, you could be on top of people all the time – asking them how things are going, helping them resolve minor problems, assigning some of their work to someone else if it looks like they are a little behind. These project managers assign short assignments – maybe just a day at a time. If they assign longer work, they ask for a status update every day or two. These managers actually spend so much time in the details that it takes their teams longer to do their work. These managers also cause frustration on the part of team members because it seems they don’t trust the team to get anything done.
The middle ground are “situational managers”. This manager has the ability to manage in a more balanced manner. This manager assigns work in one to two week chunks, and checks on status weekly. They are comfortable to allow the teams to work on their own as long as the team shows they can manage themselves. During portions of a project they exhibit some of the qualities of the Macro Manager.
However when the project gets to a point where a lot needs to happen in a short amount of time, this manager can quickly move down to managing the details. For example, let’s say you have a major milestone next week. You need more information and more frequently. During the last week before a major milestone, you may be getting daily updates. This is a time you are micromanaging on purpose because the situation requires more frequent information.
The situational manager understands when to manage at the macro level, and when to manage at the micro level. Your ability to do both may help you be more successful managing projects.
Copyright © Tom Mochal, TenStep