Appreciation, the Final Frontier Part II

Thanks for the comments on the original post.  For a wonderful discussion on what to give at the end of the project, scroll down and see the Strappy Sundresses and Thongs as Project Thank You Gifts post below.  If you want to know about how to ask for the secret and totally forbidden appreciation you may crave on a day to day basis read on here.  As an actual project manager you may be familiar with what I am calling Project Management “Superman” or “Wonder Woman” syndrome.  Why yes, you as an excellent project manager need to keep that motivated buzz going and as one of you most important tools you know how to give people strokes (5 positive to 1 negative, yes it’s actually been analyzed what is optimal) to keep everyone above and below motivated.   You keep all the dishes flying in mid air and catch them when they are coming down.. sometimes.  Yet what is it you usually hear from your team above and below?  Yeah that’s right, more problems (and yes it’s good for them to go to you that’s healthy, that means you trained them right).   However, you will burn out and fade away if that is what your hear, I don’t care how many books and consultants keep telling you that you can do it all and fix everything and get better and better.  YOU need that 5 to 1 praise to criticism ratio too.  It’s just reality.  You need to be “fed” too.  Otherwise soon you will be consulting or writing books or starting your own company.  Anything but project management.  So how do you get these all important strokes to keep you going?  The only thing I’ve tried that actually worked was to start educating people by asking for it.  Yes do something radical and directly ask for it.  Keep reinforcing it.  When people come with criticism after criticism remind them of that optimal ratio.  Ask what is going right as well as wrong.  Now my disclaimer is that I myself never had the guts to do this until I was out of project management.   So you can argue rightly that I never addressed this as a project manager.  That was because it sadly didn’t even occur to me I deserved that appreciation and/or was in a position to really get it until I was not directly project managing as a project manager but instead doing it as a line manager.  However, I did start to get it when I asked for it, and it’s the best offering I can give to those who hold the title of project manager and hope to not burn out soon.  You need it as well as everyone else.  Appreciation, the Final Frontier.  Go where no project manager has gone before and get it.  Here’s to you.

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1 thought on “Appreciation, the Final Frontier Part II”

  1. When I was full-time managing projects, even though I was a lowly “individual contributor” most of the time with no direct reports, the responsibility of my roles was enough to gag a maggot. And the recognition and appreciation that I received was certainly not 5 times greater than the negative feedback. (Some sources say we need 11 times as much positive as negative feedback for them to FEEL equal!). Asking for what I needed never occurred to me, either. I guess it has something to do with my Spartan approach to life, or thinking that people would naturally recognize excellent contributions. BAH! HA! HA! As Bill Murray said in Caddy Shack “I have to laugh.” Most people are driving with their eyes glued to the windshield, barely able to cope with their own state of overwhelm, and certainly not aware of the needs of those around them. That goes for our managers, too. They are often completely overwhelmed by the pressures and responsibilities of THEIR positions, and the lack of support from THEIR managers. Crap rolls downhill. Someone has to create a pocket of excellence, an umbrella of sanity in the midst of the torrent, a safe harbor from the storm. Let it be you and me. – Kimberly Wiefling, Author, Scrappy Project Management

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