Many of you started as interns or have worked your way up through the ranks to where you are professionally today. Still more of you have moved companies for a promotion, changed careers significantly or climbed the ladder with leaps and bounds. Good for you. Today I wanted to offer an opportunity to take a step back a little and spend some time in those long forgotten roles or positions never experienced.
As with many great suggestions within the PMBOK or other pieces of advice out there for the project manager, time often can be the great eroder of these opportunities. There is just never enough time to put the top priorities on hold for those which might add value but are truly unnecessary. For many of us who maybe didn’t climb every rank with our organization one by one, taking a step back is a tall order logistically. However, for every ounce of benefit per minute such an experience may offer you, I propose that it is actually undervalued by half without taking into account the value gained from those you hope to lead.
Having an opportunity, or rather making an opportunity to experience a day (or preferably more) in the life of one of your team members is worth every minute! You will learn more about how what the project constraints mean to these folks and how changes ripple through their purview. You will a more robust understanding of what it takes to reach these milestones which you arrogantly impose on your staff. Most importantly, if you truly embrace this opportunity, you will gain respect from your team members.
Not because you are trying to better yourself or because they feel like you have improved your understanding of what goes into making a better product, but selfishly (as we all are) they will feel like you now have a firsthand appreciation for how hard their days are. Ideally, you will gain a tremendous amount of understanding (and empathy) and your team will gain respect for you due to:
- Your willingness to TAKE the TIME
- Their perceived vindication
Just by taking the time, you show these team members that you feel what they do is important and hopefully, they feel like that your experience has proven to you that what they do is truly difficult and their resistance to change is justified.