Project LeadershipProject Management

Can Project Managers Befriend People They Manage?

Teammates hardly consider project managers as their friends. Your teammates are more formal with you after you get the project management role. They prefer hanging out with others so that they can chat more openly. In this article at Project Management Basics, Dmitriy Nizhebetskiy discusses 3 ways project managers can befriend people they manage.

When Project Managers Want to be Friends

The most important task of project managers is to enable a safe work culture where teammates can express themselves freely. Sadly, teammates do not share their interests or opinions openly with the management. This is a major setback when your own team is not comfortable with you. Following are the 3 ways project managers can befriend people they manage:

Going on Meals Together:

Start by inviting them to have meals with you. You can also have a dinner outing with them to break the initial ice. Set some ground rules like no cell phones and encourage common topics so that everyone can join in. Just ensure that you keep the doors open for others to join in instead of making it a team-only event. Do not talk about work ever. Get them into the groove by sharing some funny incidents. This will assist them to open up as well as see the jovial side of their boss outside of work. These meals will help you understand their inner passion and goals. You can then align their interests with the company goals.

Show Genuine Interest in Your Team’s Well-being:

Do not wait for team members to encounter problems in life. Instead of thinking about it as your duty, take a genuine interest in their problems. Encourage people to share anecdotes with you. You can advise them and share your life lessons. They will connect more when they can relate to your stories.

Creating a Community:

Since employees spend the majority of their day at work, they need companionship and a sense of belonging. The author was inspired by Seth Godin’s TED talk on the tribe and thinks that project managers can use that to befriend team members. Senior management wants you to deliver projects and you ensure that the team does it. To engage them in the ongoing assignment, lead the way. Provide them the passion and encouragement to reach the desired goals. However, you should enable them to take ownership rather than order them around. Motivate them to do something unique. The author introduced knowledge sharing sessions to create a communal mentality where the knowledge is shared across the team. These communal activities increase participation, shared interests, and grow capabilities. To get started with this, discuss with like-minded people in the team. They can in turn convey the idea to the rest of the team members.

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