Monday, June 18, 2012

6 Techniques for Managing Up

Most design firm principals are quite happy to delegate authority and responsibility to good project managers, and then stay out of their way. A few, however, like to “meddle” in the management process, often undercutting the authority of the PM. What can you do to manage your manager?

Below are some of the tools that will assist you in demonstrating your mastery of the project, and with that, help you preserve your PM role’s authority:

1. Be the mediator. Whenever possible, prepare meeting agendas, chair meetings and write the minutes. Assume the role if no one else has already taken it. This puts you in the “mediator” role, as a neutral between competing interests, and makes you the project historian. It’s also a great way to “protect your flank” in a turf war, and ensure that the record demonstrates your facilitation skills. And, it gives you the equivalent of a Teflon coating.

2. Delegate up. Always be ready with a difficult chore to hand to your superior who wants to play PM.

“Harry, I’m really glad that you can spend some time on this project. I really need help with (insert description of difficult problem). Your wisdom and experience on this will be a great asset to the team.” Flattery will get you everywhere, and keep Harry busy on something that needs to be done – and out of your way.

3. Track your boss’s time. Sometimes bosses log time on your project without telling you, and can, in the process, wreck your budget. Make it clear to your boss that her time has to be entered in her timesheet for that project, and then check that the same as you would for anybody else. You’re accountable – and so is she.

4. Use weekly status reports. They create the (accurate) image that you are the keeper of the project knowledge.

5. Communicate. Take the lead in keeping your meddling-prone boss “in the loop.” Copy them on everything going out, until they request that you take them off the CC list. Suggest that you have short, weekly briefing meetings with them to discuss any outstanding issues, and give them the opportunity to provide advice in a structured, rather than ad-hoc, way.

6. Say, “No thanks.” As a variation on item 2, never be afraid to say, “That’s all covered, we’re on top of it. Now, if you’ve got some time to help out on this project, here’s something you could do to help.”

To learn more tips and techniques you can use to become a better and more successful project manager, check out PSMJ’s Ultimate Project Management Manual.

No comments:

Follow @PSMJ_Resources