Are You A Project Manager Or An Office Monkey?

bored office

The title of project manager is, in most cases, hard-won. The chances are that you started at the bottom and worked your way up until, finally, you had a team underneath you. As such, you know what it’s like to polish the boots of sometimes undeserving leaders who spend all day sunning it up in private offices while you do the hard work.

Too often, though, frustrations like these vanish when you become a PM with your own private office haven. Suddenly, if you can’t deal with things from there, you may avoid dealing with them at all.

This office monkey mentality isn’t rare. After all, haven’t you done your time? Perhaps, but there’s a difference between an office monkey and a decent PM, and that difference is observation.

On the surface, your job description may be to delegate and plan, but even once those wheels are in motion, a decent and respected PM should oversee and observe on the ground regularly, and here’s why.

Your chance to see skill sets in action

Recognising talent and utilising it is a huge part of what a project manager does. But, if you’re looking at results rather than practices, you’ll only see half the picture. This could lead to incorrect or outright inappropriate project delegations, alongside strained employer and employee relations. By comparison, a PM who takes time to watch their team working will be better able to understand working styles, and even spot hidden talent for advancement opps moving forward. 

Reliable safety oversight

It’s down to you to make sure your team is working in a safe environment, complete with the warnings and equipment they need. But, honestly, filling out a safety equipment order with your  PPE suppliers at the start of a project is no contest for actually seeing the workspace and safety operations, in action. Otherwise, you may not even notice when key safety pieces go missing, get broken, or otherwise fail. As well as leaving you liable, this lack of oversight will lead to lost respect and morale, both of which are fundamental when you’re in control. 

A visible presence

Stepping out of the office at regular intervals also provides you with visibility. Above all, a PM should hold projects together and offer the support their teams need on demand.

Yet, that’s a goal you’ll never achieve if you’re holed away in an office the majority of the time. The second you break that office/workplace barrier, though, you should find your team feels better able to approach you with concerns, setbacks, or anything that arises. And, this increased communication alone can lead to easier and improved management on your part at every turn. 

A private office might be a fantastic accolade in your business quest, but don’t let it turn you into the office monkey that you always hated as you worked your way up. Instead, keep that door open, and be the best PM you can be by stepping out to take a look around every once in a while.


PM Today Contributor
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