Imagine you’ve just finished an incredible meal at an incredible restaurant. The food was flawless. Everything was perfect. Your significant other was duly impressed.
What would it take to make you cough up a 25% gratuity?
Many of us wouldn’t even consider such a thing, but there comes a time when it seems appropriate. I have asked this question dozens and dozens of times. And the answers are pretty consistent.
- The server would have to be downright clairvoyant.
- They would have to bring what I want before I even have a chance to ask for it.
- They would only appear when they’re wanted. Otherwise, they’d leave us alone.
- The meal would have to be incredible and memorable.
- The server would have to really know the menu and share the chef’s capabilities.
- The server would have to genuinely like their job.
Sounds like an amazing server, don’t you think? The interesting aspect of this question is that many of those self-same traits could be ascribed to amazing project managers. We have the opportunity to be truly amazing, if we take the time to build our knowledge base to that of a top-flight server.
You don’t have ESP. Really. But you can predict the future. If you build a networked schedule, know the plan inside and out, and have a clear sense of the potential trouble spots on the horizon you can predict when certain deliverables are going to be on time and when they’re going to be late. And, if you know that the (insert your least favorite deliverable here) is perennially late, you can warn the customer when they put in their order. Honesty is often mistaken for clairvoyance. It can actually can be a “two-for.” Be honest with your customers and be given credit for foresight. It’s one of the amazing project manager’s win-wins!
Meetings run late. Teleconferences run long. Some clients want daily attention. Others rarely want to see your smiling face. When it comes to being “timely,” one size definitely does not fit all. The advent of the modern, web-driven, reminder-based calendar has made this aspect of an amazing project manager’s behavior an easier hill to climb. Want to make it easy on yourself? Maintain an alarm-based calendar with a wide window to allow time to respond before an event actually hits. Want to make it easy on your customer? Make your calendar readily and publicly available, so they’ll know the right time to hit you. Making the customer your time-based ally is an amazing behavior.
Incredible Menu Knowledge
You know your organization’s gifts. You know what they’re good at, and why. You know which customers they love and why they love them. You have the leverage to actually create better customers as a project manager. Organizations tend to favor the customers who play to organizational strengths. You can create alignment here by identifying your strengths and selling those aspects to customers as being in their best interest. And if they want something that’s not on the menu (or on its weaker side)? Let them know the positive aspects of their choice, as well as the drawbacks. We can’t afford to un-sell our organization, but we need customers to have an honest understanding of how we are good stewards of the relationship capital we expend every day.
Loving Your Job
I count myself blessed on a daily basis that I have a job I truly love. I also have a son who can make the same claim. He’s a paleontologist. (Yes, like Ross on Friends). He wanted to be a dinosaur guy when he was two years old. He’s 30 now, working at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. I bring this up because I did not know I wanted to be a project manager when I was two. I didn’t know I wanted to be a project manager when I was 30, but I am one now. And, turns out, I love my job. People gravitate toward my son because he seems impassioned about his work. People who never cared about a drepanosaur, find it intriguing because Adam does. People will gravitate toward you if you can show them the amazing capabilities of your team, your organization, and your outputs. People will genuinely see you as their ally if you can highlight how your passion translates into better outcomes for them. Again, it’s a win-win.
The Road to “Amazing”
The road to amazing is not a long trail. The path is wide and clear, and paved with understanding an honesty about what we do, what we do well, and how that serves the interests of those we serve. When we take others down that path with us, both they and we become progressively more and more amazing.
If you’d like to learn more, watch my webinar, “10 Traits of Amazing Project Managers”, now available on-demand. In this session, I’ll take you through a dynamic presentation on the critical skills and talents it takes to move project managers from good to AMAZING. I’ll explain why instant access to contracts is a crucial consideration and why Microsoft Project can be used to makes us verifiable tellers of truth.