Attitude is key to being a good project manager

Attitude is everythingI saw an advert for a TV programme today that is all about people working for KFC – the chicken shop. One girl in the trailer made a comment that went something like this “they’re all intelligent and educated and now they work in a chicken shop”. Whilst I could start on about the education system not equipping people with the right skills to get the right jobs, and the economy generating the wrong jobs to drive sustainable growth, the comment made me think back to my own school days.

You see, when I was at school, from the age of 15 until I went to University I worked in a local supermarket keeping the shelves full. I worked alongside many other students doing the same thing but with one difference from the majority of them. Yes we were all there to earn money so we could go out and enjoy ourselves. But I was also there to learn. I wanted to learn how the store was managed, how the systems in the store worked. And I wanted to do my job well and efficiently. So I took pride in my work and always did it to the best of my ability. I knew where pretty much every product was in the store and most of the prices. Today, that’s an ethos that Waitrose espouses for all it’s staff. Not so their competition. 
My attitude go me noticed and I went on to be in charge of all the Saturday staff (as the students were known). They even asked me to join their management scheme rather than go to university, but I had much bigger plans. How many of the staff that will feature in the TV programme are there, in the chicken shop, just to earn some money  I don’t know. But the driven ones, the ones with the right attitude, will look to learn everything they can from the situation. They’ll learn about systems, about dealing with customers, about team building and leadership. They can use that learning to demonstrate transferable skills into another work area. Onje where they have a passion to succeed but not yet the opportunity.
I see a lot of people in project management that could just as easily be in the chicken shop. They don’t really take pride in project management or have a passion for it. As a result the follow the manual, they do the necessary, without ever really appreciating the value of the whole scope and scale of project management. They are the sort of people that maintain a risk register and include a dump of it in the steering committee pack that never gets referred to. They are the sort that update the plan to show progress, rather than using the plan to drive progress. They are the sort that think team meetings are where you tell the team things rather than an open exchange between everyone.
Those with a passion for project management, who have that attitude of learning and developing, look at things differently. They understand the linkages between the various technical skills of project management and the people side of project management. They look to develop and grow all aspects of their skills and experience. And they want to share that passion and their experience. They understand why they are project managers and invariably that’s why they are leaders. 
Why are you a project manager? Share you passion by leaving a comment below.
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