1 min read

Know your role

If there is anything I have learned as a project manager, it's that connecting with and caring for your team matters the most. When it comes down to deadlines and difficult conversations, having the relationship to handle them with ease just makes project life easier on everyone. It's not always easy to make those connections, and people don't always understand your worth. That's okay as long as you understand your role and fill it appropriately—in good times and bad. I've found that the most awkward and frustrating time to be a PM is during those crunch times: a design is not understood and needs to be re-explained, late hours of full-time development, and last-minute QA. You know, the "all hands of deck" scenarios that turn into all-nighters. Sure, I can offer help here and there, but I'm not the best suited to jump in and code anything. Sure, I can give you my opinion on how I think a design might be more successful, but I'm not the one who should open Photoshop and design anything (ever). I'd never offer to do that stuff, because it's not my role on the team. Sure, I might tinker here and there, but I'm not suited to do those things as a professional. I have no problems admitting that.

So what do I do? I plan and watch for issues and potential risks. I provide guidance to the team when necessary. I check in and make sure that the work is progressing, and communicate with clients so they understand time and effort. Sometimes I explain the unexplainable, and I invite the team to help when needed. I offer to help as the team sees fit. But most importantly, I run interference. I make sure that the team has their time protected. I take requests from the client and help them to prioritize.

That's what I do. And I really like it. Even when we're in a bind and things are not easy. And 9 times out of 10, if I am doing it well, the team I work with likes it too. I'm pretty sure that many of the teams I've worked with have realized at one point or another that life without a project manager could get pretty tough. I'm pretty sure that forming those relationships helped that a bit.