Kind of Client
This articles is about the kind of client you want to work for.
Appreciative of Good Efforts
Probably the most important attribute that any client could have is that he appreciates the good work that you do.
After all, you are giving your company or client the best hours of the day for 5 days a week, and sometimes more.
During that time you are often knocking yourself out to meet or beat those constant deadlines that we have in IT. You are giving it a lot of mental effort. You may even be putting yourself under strain.
However, you won‘t receive any of the benefits of the work that you do, as that will go to the company and its shareholders.
You will be getting paid for doing the job – perhaps well paid.
However, money is a motivator for taking a job. It doesn‘t really motivate you once you have started.
Motivation of Contractors
One can have self-motivation, and can derive a lot of personal satisfaction for a job well done. However it also helps when someone for whom you are doing the work appreciates it as well.
Too many managers, whether project or senior managers, don‘t even say thanks.
All they do is hand out another piece of work when you have finished your current task. One wonders if they know what management is all about.
The kind of client you want to work for is one who shows genuine gratitude when you have done a good job.
There is absolutely no reason why they shouldn‘t show genuine gratitude as you have done them a big service, which could be very helpful to their careers.
Can Walk With Kings and Paupers
Too many managers are aloof. There can be at least a couple of reasons for this. Some of them are aloof as they are very hierarchical and they don‘t see why they should hang about much with people form lower levels, who should get on with their work or face the consequences.
Others are aloof because they are a little frightened of mixing in with their workers. This can be because they fear that familiarity may breed contempt, or because they are genuinely out of their depths talking to techies.
However, the good managers have confidence enough in their own abilities to be able to roll their sleeves up occasionally on the shop floor, or to mix socially with their team.
They know that they will retain respect because of their knowledge and abilities, and not just because of their job title.
Will be in the Thick of Battle
Has anyone noticed how often that, in the thick of battle, when the project is at a crucial stage and lots of overtime and effort are needed, that management often absent themselves.
They‘ll wave goodbye in the evening with a ‘Good luck’ or ‘Keep up the good work’ to those who are staying on to sort out the problems, many of which have been created by bad management, e.g. poor scheduling.
No one wants to stay late if they can help it – unless they are getting overtime of at least time and a half.
However, the good manager bites the bullet and stays. They may not be of much use, except to make the tea or get the pizzas or the fish suppers, but it shows a commitment to the team, the people and the project.
They don‘t have to do it all the time – just at the most crucial times.
When to Stay
If a system is going in on a Monday, and a good chunk of the project team are working the weekend to make sure that it goes in successfully, then the manager shouldn‘t take himself off on Friday evening, not to be heard from again until Monday morning.
He, or she, should be the kind of client who comes in for at least part of the time.
Although there may not apparently be something obvious for him or her to do, its surprising how often a management decision needs to be taken when something unexpected happens (which happens relatively often), or when management can facilitate something that needs to be done, e.g. contact the Operations Manager desperately or get hold of senior management or a key user or supplier at the weekend.
Management Not That Difficult
Managers should bear in mind one thing, and that is that they are enablers and not just bean counters. Too many project managers think that there task is just to schedule and to track against schedule, kicking anyone who falls behind.
Management is about enabling and encouraging others to work well, both individually and as a team, and to ensure the smooth running of the project by making sure that the team have everything available to them when they need it.
After compiling the initial schedule, the manager should pass the tracking of it over to a keen young graduate, and only get involved when there is a problem.
Too many managers don‘t realise, or pay lip service to the fact, that the people on the project are the key to success.
If you can get them looking forward to coming in every morning then half your job is done.
The other half is in providing them with the wherewithal to do the job when they are there, e.g. with suitable training, with co-ordination and supply of everything they need to do their job well.
In fact, most of the time the project manager is actually more of a supplier to his or her people than he or she is a customer of theirs.
That’s the kind of client you want to work with.