Think of an ideal team environment. Got something?
I suspect we can all come up with a physical environment conducive to great teamwork. But have you thought of the ideal psychological environment?
Both are necessary and yes, both are crucial.
As Project Manager, you have to do your very best to keep the team working smoothly and on schedule. Part of that task is protecting them from the sound and occasional fury from the client.
Every project has its challenges and it’s your job to ensure the project team is able to keep working without distraction and unnecessary stress.
As Project Manager, I am the one wearing the Human Kevlar Vest. I take the incoming fire from the client and mediate any issues.
Do I leave the project team in the dark about the issues? No, of course not. But I distill the issues down and, if necessary, suggest a shift in direction or adjustments. And I manage to do that without making the hairs on their collective heads stand up.
Protecting your team from the client is a good practice. So why isn’t it done more often?
I think I know why. It’s lonely being the only one communicating with the client. It can be frustrating not being able to share it with the very people who understand.
Find some colleagues outside the team circle to vent with: maybe some fellow Project Managers. Your cat or dog would do fine, in a pinch. Anyone really but your project team.
Do not throw them off their game. They need to focus on the actual work without histrionics undermining their progress. And unfocused stress can throw a spanner into the engine, shifting team dynamics and as such, workflow. In short, it can have long-term disastrous effects on the project.
If I take all the client’s issues and frustrations and spew them directly back at the project team, I am essentially abdicating my role as a leader. They don’t need to know every little comment or concern expressed at a client meeting. Breaking down the wall between client and project team creates an environment where the focus is lost and the project shifts based on the whims of nervous clients.
You’re the leader. You take the hits, protect your team while moving the product forward with client suggestions and adjustments.
Do you wear a Human Kevlar Suit? If not, maybe it’s time to get suited up….
What better way than to rev up your leadership approach? firstname.lastname@example.org or call 925-639-4564 – let’s talk about the next step.