To be a great PM, one ought to be a team leader, co-worker and supervisor at the same time. To sum up, there is artistry in being able to sail through a project: It’s one of being malleable and resourceful; always expecting the best, planning for the worst and preparing for the unexpected. Remember, no one can whistle a symphony – it takes a whole orchestra.
We bring to you the season finale of our series titled, “A Day in a Week of an Employee”. By now, you must be quite familiar with the term ‘Project Management’, as well as the experience and workload of a PM’s typical day. There is no space for dull and monotonous days in this profession. Fasten your seats for a ride you’ll never get bored of.
Let’s experience what Friday looks like for our PM Mohit, while he is handling the new remote work environment.
Jogging back to his home, “hmmm…that Friday Feeling”, crossed Mohit’s mind. Waking up to the joy of ‘just one more day’ in your head: Sprinting back to work to wind up the week and happily walking towards the weekends. Friday in most offices is seen as dress down days, ease of early wrap-ups accompanied with drinks later kind of days. However, Fridays during the times of Covid-19 is a different game entirely. When you work from home, it is less likely for you to step out of the house and go through a typical adult routine. One has more distractions present at every step. This new interpersonal dynamic might augment the desire for social interaction and cohesion between co-workers in the office space. As for Mohit, being people’s manager, he already made a plan in mind.
Quickly firing up his laptop, he started going through the emails one by one. He reviewed and updated his diary that helps him to keep a track of: achievements of the week, prioritising tasks and keeping an eye on potential issues which might crop up.
Since there wasn’t much left to be done and in a few weeks, project’s demo was scheduled, Mohit thought of implementing one of the desired functionality his client had requested.
After the daily scrum meeting, Mohit scheduled a call with the Product Planning Team, inquiring whether the requested functionality would sit well in the existing framework. After having rounds of discussions, testing out few capabilities and analyzing feature parity across platforms – the Product Planning Team gave a final nod.
A typical Manager’s workday is brimming with phone calls, emails, and meetings. What Project Managers long for most is time. Funnily, it is also something which they fail to make use of properly. Mohit figured out this limitation in the early days of his career and since then has been improving on this challenge. He introduced the concept of ‘Do-Not-Disturb’ in his office space and even gifted ‘do not disturb lights’ as a quirky corporate gift.
The Do-Not-Disturb approach lets the employee or manager to have 2-hour schedules of power focus sessions. They can work for 2 hours without any disturbance and the next 2 hours can be a mixed-mode of work and communication, like usual. Mohit sent out a communication to his teammates as well, to let them know that he would be working on an important client functionality and would be in a dormant state for next two hours, unless something critical requires his attention.
Finally, the functionality was implemented and beta was turned on for everyone. To clear the final hurdle and make the feature available to the client, a release will be proposed for application.
Mohit’s following course of action was to host meetings with senior management and the project sponsors – updating them on the status of the project and bringing forth issues that were pending. Not being in the same room has its set of challenges. The top being, making visual communication and picking up on body language cues, especially while dealing with senior management. Once the kick-off call ended, it was time to turn attention towards managing the day-to-day activities of the project.
When your team is distributed, especially for people working from remote areas, quick check-ins are more challenging and sometimes prove to be a major roadblock. Without the option of meeting someone in the hall or calling the team to meet in a conference room, managing remote projects requires a more conscientious and transparent approach to maintain tasks, deadlines and the processes.
Mohit scheduled a quick call with his teammates to ensure that all the tasks are properly assigned, with realistic deadlines; Checking if they’re overloaded and would require a hand. Working remotely often means shifting the burden of accountability from being top-down to bottom-up approach. The teammates are responsible for their work and decisions, an approach that Mohit believes in to enhance productivity and give his teammates, a sense of leadership. If you don’t trust that your team will get the work done without you staring at them from across the office, then probably your project is bound to fail.
The clock struck 5.00 pm. Mohit thought of ordering pizzas for his team, as a sense of gratitude and what better day could it be than a Friday!? As a project manager, you are responsible for making sure that the projects are delivered on schedule but, you are also equally responsible for being an Empathetic Manager for developing your team’s trust and success. There is an old saying, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you will start treating everything around like a nail". The ability to empathize with your team is one of the most powerful skills that any leader can exhibit.
After complementing all the activities, updating his to-do lists and the nitty-gritties of the day-to-day tasks; Mohit logged in to do his favourite aspect of the work – reading insightful project management and project leadership articles. Later in the evening, he indulged himself in a bowl of soup while watching his favourite series.
That sums up the Thank God, it’s Friday feeling of a project manager.
Before concluding this series, we will like to remind you all that there are so many things that keep going on a typical day in the life of a project manager. As shared earlier, no two days are similar. It is a pretty daunting task to ensure that the timelines are met and the project is delivered, successfully. The greatest mantra that a project manager can teach you is: to get organized despite the chaos around. There are too many things to look at and sometimes each one of them is a priority. The best you can do is to automate all your processes – escalation and task assignment mails, project due date reminders, new update requests, etc. It is also of utmost importance to keep the stakeholders informed and enable them to collaborate on project’s progress.
Is your day similar or different than this?