I always feel slightly embarrassed for the project manager who really wants to be ‘one of the boys'. There is an old saying about how you cannot ‘run with the hare and hunt with the hounds’, and I think this can be applied to how a project manager should behave with the team members.
There may be times on a project when the project manager really has to make decisions that have an unpleasant or adverse impact on the team members. I think it is important to separate the need for the decision from the way in which it will be implemented, with tough decisions being implemented in a caring manner, with humanity. However, if the project manager aspires to be ‘one of the boys’ then these decisions may be difficult to make in the first place, and the implementation may be messy.
The project manager must realise that there is a difference in role between the manager and the team members, and this will show in many ways. The project manager must maintain a more strategic view of the project and its direction, and may have to take decisions concerning resource numbers, deployment and reassignment.
These decisions must be based upon fact, and put together in a constructive and explainable manner, so that the team members can understand the need for the decision. Then the project manager can plan the implementation in as caring a way as possible.
If the project manager has too close a relationship to the team members this can complicate such management action. Maintaining a balance is vital. I think the best project managers know exactly when to leave the bar (just after buying the first round of drinks….).
©Mike Watson 2015