Happy New Year!
Since it’s already the second week of 2016, resolutions may seem like a distant memory. Still, I’ve been seeing posts come up including this great one from Atlassian (makers of Jira) about new year’s resolutions for agile ceremonies. And it got me thinking of a few new years resolutions for Digital Project Managers (DPMs).
#1 – See Your Client’s POV First
It’s so easy for those of us who work at agencies to be frustrated with the pace at which our clients get back to us or are able to innovate. Our role as an agency partner is to push our clients to do newer/better things. So, when we receive any sort of resistance/complication it can be disheartening and frustrating. Rather than get angry, try to see it from their perspective. Most clients have way more responsibility than just working with their agency. Sometimes half of their time is spent dealing with internal issues so that they can pave the way for the agency to do amazing things for them. Perhaps there are things you can do as a DPM to make it less painful and expedite the process. See it from their side first, before you start to kvetch.
#2 – Put People and Process before Tools
DPMs are DPMs because they love efficiencies and the art of making things happen elegantly. And, when there is a tool that can (or, at least claims to) make a process run smoothly, DPMs are the first to try to make things change. But a tool will never be a silver bullet if you don’t have your roles/teams (aka People) outlined or the definitions of how they work together (aka Process) defined. Many tools assume that these items have already been defined. While many tools are very flexible and accommodate many scenarios, it is possible that interjecting a tool might make things LESS efficient as you try to change the way you are naturally structured to accommodate the tool. Instead, define your roles and your processes first, then find the tool that might make things sweet.
#3 – Be an Advocate for your Team
I like to say that the DPM is responsible for getting everything done without doing a goddamn thing. The role, at its core, is to take all of the (potentially) disparate people working towards a goal and make them work together so that the sum is greater than the parts. Frustrations undoubtedly ensue when certain team members don’t pull their weight and this can cause the whole operation to slow down or come to a screeching halt. As humans, it’s our nature to lash out with “it’s not me, it’s you” when this happens. Resist the temptation to throw a team member under the bus and try to understand the problem so that you can be part of the solution. You’ll gain trust with that individual while earning extra brownie points with the team, leading to greater benefits in the future.
#4 – Keep Your Skills/Knowledge Up
This one probably should be #1 in this list as it tends to take a backseat to everything we do as DPMs. We need to continually nurture ourselves with more knowledge and skills about our work/industry. Only through continually improving ourselves will we get more out of work and life. Sure, improvements can be going to conferences or getting certification, but it can also be simply getting together with other like-minded folks at meetups or reading a new book/blog. I, for example, have been blazing through Getting Results the Agile Way which is not only helping me to be better at my profession but also is allowing me to see more things I should be getting out of life. I’ve also been regularly following the tweets of some DPM cohorts to learn about what they’re thinking/exploring. Make it a priority to enrich yourself and it will pay countless dividends.