Thursday, December 14, 2006

Politeness and Project Management

I think Mark at Vertabase has some good things to say about communications as the key to why projects fail. He suggests that "Politeness can kill a project". And although I have been accused sometimes of saving my tact for a more important future display, I’m not sure that “politeness” per se is the problem. I believe that as a project manager, it is essential to be polite, but it is also essential to be direct and specific (and to require your team members to be direct and specific). Vague answers do not help … unless you count “helping to avoid blame”. Ditto for letting “consensus” determine due dates.

Jim Collins wrote a great article for Harvard Business Review a few years ago entitled “The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve”. He was addressing executive leadership, but I think the title could easily become the motto of a successful project manager. Even a polite one.

1 comment:

Pawel Brodzinski said...

I've seen PMs for whom politeness is the ABC of their work and those who prefer efectiveness over politeness. I've seen situations where the former worked better (customer asked about having "polite" PM, instead of "succesful" one) and those where the latter should be the choice (emergency situation in complex project with incoming deadline).

Having said that I think the best choice is polite, yet tough PM. They're rare, but valuable.