Appreciation… the Final Frontier

After years and years of Project Management it finally became obvious to me there was someone or something I wasn’t addressing. No, I’m not talking about all the usual people project management challenges all those references mention, or even some they don’t mention. Like you, I know some of the ways engineers and researchers egos need to be stroked to and motivated to get that coveted performance. I can even tell you some of the more successful ways to work the maze of upper management,which no doubt you probably know also. Tell me this though — Sometimes when you’ve fed all the hungry egos out there does it secretly knaw at you that there is someone that got missed? Someone who isn’t getting fed. You guessed it, could it be you? Nah, you say, my reward is the growth of the team, the love of the projects and to a certain extent you may be correct. However to a certain extent you may be in denial. I know I was. So how do we make sure we get appreciation from others? I’m calling this the “Final Frontier” as it’s such a radical concept for me. Is it just me or does everyone have this down? I can share later some of my awkward attempts and progress, however I’d love to hear how others have approached this or even forgotten to approach it. Anything that smacks of perfection probably won’t be a believable story, although I do enjoy fairy tales. I just enjoy messy tales of progress even better because those I can picture actual people in. The subject is appreciation for Project Managers. Yes the people who “give” to everyone else. What about you?

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3 thoughts on “Appreciation… the Final Frontier”

  1. Prompted by your blog, I looked back on years of project management experience and came to these realizations. FROM MANAGEMENT: The most common form of appreciation for doing a great job on a very challenging project was being offered the job of leading the next big, challenging project. FROM THE TEAM: They express their appreciation after the project is over, so it’s not very motivating during the project. FROM ME: I appreciate myself for being committed to doing a great job and at least lurching fitfully toward being the kind of leader I admire.

    One caution: Approval whores shouldn’t be project managers because it’s usually not possible to please everyone AND achieve the goals of the project. – Kimberly

  2. It is easy to leave out oneself. I’ve never been much for big gestures. I agree with Kimberly’s examples and will add a few:

    * from management: the occasional “attaboy”… maybe it’s a bit too old boy, but one of the best I remember is a dinner and cigars and cognac with the “boss.”

    * from team: I get the best feeling when they ask to work with me again.

    * from me: I like a nice hot Japanese style bath (ofuro) and think about the accomplishments.

    * from other stakeholders: Maybe the most satisfying was the time when a customer came up to me after a pretty grueling project, shook my hand, and said, “I didn’t like you at first, and I’m not sure I like you now, but I respect that you tell the truth and I’m looking forward to working with you again.”

    that made me blush.

    alan

  3. Hiya Alant and Kimberly,

    Interestng that everyone took this to mean at the END of the project and really that is a different can of worms. An interesting blog dealing with aprreciation at the END of a project that I’m gonna post on is under “Strappy Sundresses and Thongs” I loved loved that post and my own comments on what is great at the end of a project are going to be there. The thought for me is much more about day to day appreciation given each other during a project. This is the kind of “feeding” that keeps people alive and interested in their profession. The kind of thing I did constantly to keep a project together. That positive feedback buzz. I think demanding that kind of respect and appreciation ongoing is a must and it is interesting to me that I only figured that out how to even begin to approach it when in a line management role and not a project management role. Part of it is that as a line manager we are in a better position to directly ask for it from people however, I think it may even be more important for project managers as they get so little and consequently burn out so fast. If one is afraid of being called an “appreciation whore” my thought is hmm… maybe that is a good place to go then Yes, go where you are afraid! If we as project managers are so afraid of asking for appreciation that phase somehow jumps to mind, then maybe it is a real problem like I thought. I think it is humorous to even think of classify most of the project managers appreciation whoring… never seen one of those as a project manager anyway.. that is kinda like having someone afraid of heights become a pilot but I guess it could happen. Project managers have to be the most unappreciated species out there and everyone knows it. Everyone thinks they can do it and noone typcically appreciates it. Anyways, one way of getting a bit of appreciation is to DIRECTLY ASK FOR IT. What a concept! It actually worked for me after the usual angst and goof ups. Now my caveate is I didn’t do this as a project manager, I didn’t have the guts or was too afraid of being anything less than a gladiator who never thought of herself when I was a project manager. Yes, go where you are afraid! Get your appreciation! Try asking for it in the day to day work! Maybe you will last longer as an actual project manager. Let me know Good luck

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