IPMA International Project Management Association
21 May 2020 / 9:00

Make sure you feel good being a Project Manager

Your energy level when managing the project is highly essential
Whether we manage the corporate department, manufacturing operation, or even our own business, it’s crucial to take advantage of any initiatives that will help us save money and sustain our business for a long time.
One such initiative is an energy audit. Energy audits reveal our usage patterns, identify waste, over-expenditure, and, generally, make us fully aware of where our energy euros are going.
The knowledge about our energy consumption level enables us to be more efficient with our energy use and be able to track and accelerate savings. Energy audits may sound expensive or time-consuming, but they can be quite straightforward.
A similar approach can be applied to the way how we manage our projects. Honestly, how does the managing project differ from running a business?
So, I did the energy audit on the way how I manage my projects. There are some projects I enjoy managing, and I feel great being part of them. And some projects suck. Sorry for the wording, but it is true. I am sure you are in the same situation.
I want to share my lessons learned regarding my energy levels when managing different kinds of projects. I will provide you with my best managing patterns, actions where I waste time, and tips on how to be fully aware of your attention flow.

Impact of the Project Manager energy level on the execution of the project

Just do it. It is a fantastic slogan for a company. It is also a great motivation tactic to start doing what we need to do. It is terrible advice to manage a project.
Sometimes I am so keen on the project deliverables that I immediately start to take some actions. My energy level at the beginning is very high. Enthusiasm pumps adrenalin to my veins. I assume that this is going to be crème de la crème of my work.
Then, after a while… You know the story. The end of the project is somehow running away.

I need to deliberately choose my activities, not just jumping from task to task. In other words, when I have a plan, I feel much better during the project execution. Just controlling what I am doing towards my planing gives me absolute comfort. Life would be much easier when we were able to make a great plan on the first attempt. We are not. Plans need to be reviewed, stakeholders added, cost adjusted, deadlines postponed. Therefore acting without a plan is a waste of time.

The right behaviour is a breaking point. People observe how other people behave. I do pay attention to the shadow I cast. It reminds me to be honest and supportive. It is also true when you feel good, your team feels good. You are stressed out; your team gets stressed out. You value people; they help you when things go wrong.

The signed agreement is a game-changer. I am surprised at how the importance of having signed a Project Charter is underlined during project management training and how often this advice is not followed.
One of the project’s characteristics is uncertainty; knowing what to expect of me makes me feel much better and gives me clear instructions on where to focus my energy and where not. Otherwise, my work is based only on assumptions, and that might be a road to hell.

I assume that you know the importance of assumptions in a project. My assumption, however, might be wrong. The problem is that in too many cases, our premises are incorrect. At least those mine are.
I realized that I have a too optimistic view of the world that surrounds me. In order not to fall into the trap of an assumption and be caught by surprise, it helps me to clarify as much as I can. What about you? Are you sure your premises have not become risks already?

Do you manage where your attention goes, or is it controlled by someone or something else? For instance, your inbox is the task list of someone else. Do you schedule your work according to the agreement you made or is your work managed by your inbox?
I ask those questions to you because that was what I did exactly. I did not have an explicit agreement of what needs to be delivered, so I got lost in my assumptions and task of someone else. I spent an enormous time getting out of chaos, managing several projects, looking for documents, waiting for clarification. Honestly, at that time, being a project manager was not enjoyable at all. It is not so bad these days.

Project is a unique experience that has beginning and end. That was the first definition of a project I learned. It is also the one I use, and I like the most. After I got that definition, my professional development has started. Of course, there are other extended characteristics of projects. Such as a high level of risk and uncertainty, assign resources, and budget. Those characteristics are aspects; every project manager has to learn to manage. The management of the project depends a lot on the competencies of a Project Manager.
Self-reflection is one of the competencies I value the most. It makes an enormous impact on how we behave and how successful we are. I encourage you to reflect on how you manage your projects and how you feel when handling them. Your “Energy table “might look different but it is OK. All the projects are unique, so we are.

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Marek Demcak

Author of this post

Marek works as a LEAN Coach at Vaillant. His main job is to coach and develop sustainable culture of continuous improvement industrial plants of the Vaillant Group in Slovakia and England. Besides his love in Process improvement, he is very enthusiastic about project management as well. Marek founded and developed IPMA Young Crew in Slovakia. Currently, he is the Management Board Member of IPMA Slovakia and since march 2019 also the Management Board Member of Young Crew Global, responsible for GYCWS and Coaches and Mentors program. His hobbies range from books to different kinds of sports such as Crossfit and climbing iron ways. Why is he so involved in IPMA? As he says: “Whatever we do in our lives has the impact on the world and other people, therefore we should do the right things, be more professionals but never forget to have fun” :)