Project Management

Why You Should Avoid a Project Death March

Project managers might think of themselves as the protagonist in a blockbuster, where they take on the lead role but also all of the stress associated with it. But in an article for CIOReview, Ned Johnson writes that project managers should put themselves in the role of a stage manager who knows how to share the spotlight with other players, and gives space for the right one to play at the right time. The alternative is a project death march.

Don’t Play the Plot Out, Direct It

Project leadership is about paving the way for talents to shine and get your team’s expertise known by customers and senior managers. Instead of being the protagonist of your movie, you can be a supporting character who plays the key role of stimulating other characters to act and behave in a certain way. Without you, other characters will not be known and pushed to achieve their best potential. Or you can think of yourself as a stage manager and other members are the talented players—you play the central role in deciding who to play what role in what moment. You’re like a behind-the-scenes director who mediates and fuels a great performance.

Johnson says that giving a space for your team to grow and shine also helps improve customer satisfaction and retain customer loyalty. You can combine customers’ demands and your team members’ desire to be challenged by transferring customer input to your engineering or software development team. Johnson adds this:

By giving your QA engineer that voice, you are giving your customer faith in your team’s ability, uncovering hidden requirements that could lead to a death march later and also ensuring you’re QA engineer has some skin in the game. That engineer, who is now known and respected by the customer will have much more incentive to work hard and succeed. Their good idea was recognized publicly by the customer and the team. They won’t fail.

It is smart and ethical to lead your project team in a collaborative environment where their expertise is unraveled to clients. This way of leading is different from ruling on a march, and it builds trust and faith in both the team and your client. The aforementioned alternative, the “death march,” is when project managers believe it is on them to manage and dictate everything. They lead and lead and lead, not realizing that the job is too much for one person. As a result, time tables quietly fall apart, communication deteriorates, and good intentions go awry.

You can view the original article here:

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