As a project manager, you may not care if you are liked but you do care if you are respected. How do you earn the respect and trust of your team?
- Acknowledge Ignorance – If you don’t know the answer to a question asked by your team, don’t make up an answer. Your team will respect you much more if you tell the truth and offer to find an answer than if you are caught lying about knowing something that later turns out to be untrue.
- Treat People as Adults – You team members my act childish at times, but you are not their parent. You are the project manager assigned to get business done. If you feel like someone needs some constructive feedback, treat them as you would want to be treated and show them respect.
- Don’t Stereotype – Don’t assume you know about someone based on prior experience or by grouping all people together as the same because of they have the same job, same skills, or same background. Nothing kills respect faster than you assuming everyone is the same and acting like you have someone figured out without getting to know the individual.
- Make Yourself Useful – People respect someone who adds value to the project. If all you are to the project team is someone who shows up asking for a status report, you don’t have any perceived value to the team. When meeting with the team, start by asking them about the work they are doing, what tasks they need more information about, or what you can do that will help them get their work done on time. Be someone they know they can call if they need help, someone who cares about their problems, and the person who can offer possible solutions.
- Allow Wasted Time – No person can work at 100% all day everyday and not burn out. If you expect your team to do that you should also expect to never hit your deadlines and have a high turnover rate. Don’t expect your team to work at 100%, except when it is absolutely required. Allow people time to think, research ideas, talk to the team about non-project items to build morale, and time to work on non-project related tasks.
- Solve Problems before the team is impacted – This is related to item #4, but don’t go to the team and tell them requirements have changed and we need to find a way to get the new work done on the old timeline. You, the project manager, need to have formulated a plan to get the new work done on an acceptable timeline and present the new plan to the team in a way they understand this is the best possible plan with the least impact to their tasks. They will respect you as a problem solver looking out for their best interests.
- Facilitate Communication – A a representative for the company and the customer’s problems, you need to bring ideas and facts to the conversation about how to handle problems or resolve team conflicts. Amplify the best solutions, bring everyone to the discussions, and embrace good alternate ideas. You shouldn’t care if you had an idea first, just who has the best idea. Give credit to the team member with the idea that solves a problem, even if you had to do most of the work to turn the idea into an actual solution.
- Embrace Success – If you only focus on the tasks that are late or the budget overages, the team will always have the sense that they can never be successful or will ever meet your tough expectations. Make sure you know what is going well and you communicate that success to your team and to your management. There will always be those times when things don’t go well and the team needs to do better, but don’t always focus on the bad news.
- Stick to Your Guns – You know what is right and what is wrong, and don’t do something wrong for the wrong reasons. Work with your team and always be looking for ways to help your team do more, but don’t allow someone to talk you into taking a shortcut that will eventually make you or the team look foolish. This includes illegal or unethical actions. The Project Manager is supposed to stand between the team and corporate management to protect the team from stupid ideas, just make sure you are fighting for the right reasons.
- Have Fun – Don’t forget that you need to have the ability to enjoy your job and have fun. If you are stressed and hating your job, the team will detect that unhappiness and start emulating your bad attitude. That can destroy the team and even make them not respect you.
Did I forget to put anything on the list? Let me know in the comments.