10 Ways to Make Your Project Manager Love You

Project managers are busy people and they have a lot of demands on their time and attention.  Critical to a project manager’s success is having competent, reliable and proactive team members.  If you want to be loved by your project manager (being loved by a PM is a sneaky back door way to job security if there ever was one) and who doesn’t, follow our tips list….

Do your job. It sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s first on this list for a reason. If you do your job – and most importantly do it well – your manager will notice your hard work. All PM’s value team members who perform assigned duties consistently and at a high level of quality. Know your job duties and expectations and surpass them. If you have skills gaps, pro-actively fill them in with training.  By doing your job well and demonstrating competency you create opportunities to expand and increase your job responsibilities. Project managers’ love consistent, no- fail reliability.  Going above and beyond will not go unnoticed.

Value their time. I once had a Project Manager who would not let you sit down in his office. When I would go to a meeting with him, his first words were “Don’t sit down.”  You had to talk to him while standing. It sounds rude, but he had a point.  He was working 55 hours a week on a complex project with a lot of moving parts that had a lot of problems, and his time was a scarce commodity. Make you project manager love you by being prepared for discussions, anticipating his/her questions, staying ahead on your task lists and keeping meetings to a bare minimum. While you are off performing at a stellar level, your project manager will love you because they can allocate more of their time to more pressing problems. One more tip, don’t send them emails they don’t need, it just irritates them that their mailbox is full.

Be accessible. “That’s not my job” is perhaps one of the worst things you can ever say to your boss. If you are asked to do something that is not in your job description, take it as an opportunity to learn a new skill. Project managers love flexibility and value team members who will step up to do work that needs to be done, even if it’s not in the team members job description or skill set. It shows you’re a team player, and that you’re motivated.

Be reliable, always. Well, maybe not always, but if you say you’re going to do something, do it. Sometimes this may require extra effort on your part, an extra hour or so of work in the evening or on the weekend. Project managers love people who will occasionally stretch to meet a deadline, because often times projects have work that require a little extra push to get done on time. If you can’t, be sure to let your manager know well in advance if you can’t get it completed and why.   Project managers also notice excessive numbers of excuses.  Keep them to a bare minimum. An honest explanation, an apology for the inconvenience, and a game plan for how to avoid these situations in the future will demonstrate your commitment to the team.

Accept responsibility. We all make mistakes, we’re only human. But try to keep mistakes to a minimum, demonstrate your competence! When you do screw up, what is essential is how you handle it and when.  Own up to the mistake immediately, it gives the team more time to minimize the consequences. Be honest with your project manager. Honesty reflects better on you than excuses, or worse, blaming someone else. Project Managers don’t like excuses. The best thing to say is “I made a mistake, this is the mistake, and this is how I’m going to fix it.” Then fix it.

Fix your mistakes. Since we agree that we all make mistakes, the trick is not to repeat them. Project managers love team members who are coachable, who will alter their behavior in a way that avoids making the same mistakes repeatedly. Accept the fact that mistakes will happen, but also take ownership to fix the root cause of the mistake and try to avoid that action in the future so you can avoid that consequence.

Don’t transfer your monkeys …  Do not transfer the monkey on your back to your Project Manager. Project managers do not love it when team members come to them with problems.  It creates work for the project manager, something that team members should never do. Project managers do love team members who proactively identify problems and define appropriate solutions. It is not your project manager’s responsibility to solve your problems; it is your responsibility to identify the best possible solution and to ask for permission to implement it.  He/she may not agree with your solution and may suggest something else.  But do not expect that your project manager is there to solve your problems, YOU must do that. For more on this, see the Army’s Doctrine of Completed Staff Work.

Be confident and ask questions. Never be afraid to speak up and ask for clarification. Never assume you know everything. Never assume that everyone else understands but you, they don’t! There is a saying that true wisdom means accepting that you know nothing. No one ever knows everything, so ask if you don’t know. Project managers love clarity, and asking questions shows you’re involved, you’re interested and want to make the project as successful as possible.

Deal with criticism. Sometimes, you will get some criticism. This is not personal. It can sting to hear that you weren’t doing as well as you thought you were, especially from your boss. Project Managers provide feedback so that you can improve and they love people who will listen and address criticism in a constructive, non-emotional way.  Understand that they are doing this for your benefit – they want you to do better and be the best you can be, both for the company’s benefit and your own.

Make their job easier. Project managers love untapped capacity. Whether it is pulling together a report they don’t have time to complete, or preparing a presentation for a big client meeting, offer to take on tasks your manager may not have time to complete themselves. Remember to ask questions and be clear on their expectations. Project Managers are almost always busy; lightening their load will always be appreciated.

That’s our top ten.  There are many more, but these will be mentioned in future articles.