Managing Projects with Respect

    Managing Projects with Respect
    Managing Projects with Respect

    Over the years I’ve written about many project management skills, techniques, and approaches. Project managers need to be organized. They need to be able to plan efficiently. Project managers need to be able to communicate and customize their communication for their specific audience.

    The project manager needs to have many tools in her toolbox. One tool I haven’t written about is respect. Effective project managers know that treating others with respect is one of the key things that allows them to get things done.

    Respect for team members

    The project manager needs to have respect for the individual team members in many ways. She should respect their time. Team members generally work hard and it is important for them to be productive.

    Some project managers want frequent status updates. They may interrupt the team members multiple times per day for status checks or seemingly innocent, “How ya doing?” checks.

    One of the greatest hits on productivity is interruptions. When someone is interrupted from a high-concentration job, it takes more than the time of the interruption to get back on track. It can take several more minutes to determine where they were and get ramped up to the same level of concentration they were at before.

    Project managers should also be respectful of the team members’ knowledge. Most members of the team have a specific skill. Many have worked a long time honing that skill.

    Project managers who oversimplify the knowledge of a team member show a lack of respect. When a project manager asks a project team member for an estimate for a piece of work and then tells him he is wrong or overrides that estimate shows a great lack of respect.

    Respect for business stakeholders

    The project manager generally serves the business stakeholder. That is the sponsor of the project, and ultimate customer. Yet, project managers frequently show disrespect for these folks.

    Most business stakeholders are high-level executives. They have control of large budgets that fund the projects that project managers manage. They are busy people with limited time.

    Project managers often waste the business stakeholder’s time by being ill-prepared for status meetings. Status meetings should be swift and succinct. The executive needs to know whether the project is on track and be made aware of any major issues and risks that could set the project back.

    Disrespectful project managers will provide much more detail on a project than the stakeholder is interested in. The meeting will take more time than the executive has available.

    On the other end of the spectrum, some project managers provide too little detail. Whether it’s a fear of exposing too much to the executive or going too far to be efficient, the executive has to spend time asking for additional detail until she is satisfied that she knows where the project is and what issues she needs to be aware of. Executives don’t have time to play 20-questions trying to determine if the funds they have budgeted are being used efficiently.

    Respect for other project managers

    Projects within a large organization are rarely executed in a vacuum. There are usually many projects being performed in parallel. Each may interact with several other projects in one way or another.

    Project managers need to make sure communication lines are open among the various projects. Large organizations may have project teams organized under a project management office (PMO). A PMO has many roles. One is to ensure a standard approach for all projects within the organization. Another is to facilitate communication between projects.

    When a PMO holds a weekly status meeting for project managers to communicate with each other, many PMs beg out because they are too busy. But this type of communication helps all of the organization’s project managers know what’s going on and how other projects may affect them.

    Avoiding opportunities to communicate could end up hurting multiple projects within the organization, including your own.


    Even the most respectful project managers may be acting disrespectfully without knowing it. Project managers should take the time to stop and think about any of their fellow employees to determine the best use of their time and resources. Showing others this type of respect will reap mutual respect and increased success in the future.

    Have you ever disrespected someone on your project?

    If you would like to learn more about a career in Project Management, get Lew’s book Project Management 101: 101 Tips for Success in Project Management on Amazon.

    Please feel free to provide feedback in the comments section below.

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