PM Tips: Who leads the project review? It’s YOU!

If you are Project Manager managing IT projects you will agree with my following statements:

Instead of preparing or sitting in project reviews, I can spend the time usefully managing the project

It’s always frustrating, because I don’t want my performance to be analyzed in a meeting room in front of several others

I’m not sure how all this data I provide is useful for managing the project

When I asked Project Managers how they feel when they walk out of a project review, quite often they feel frustrated, discharged, de-motivated and sometimes even humiliated.

On the contrary, Project Managers should be energized, satisfied, empowered and fulfilled when they walk out of a project review.

Here are tips for Project Managers to make this happen. (A lot of these tips might sound very basic, but its these simple things that derail projects):

Detach yourself from the project performance

  • You are just the manager of the project. The project is not your baby, so don’t get emotionally bonded to the project. If things don’t go the way they should, it’s not always because of you. By working harder and spending extra few hours, you can’t always get things back to normal. Try to step back and reflect on the situation as an outsider. This is very important because when there are early warning signals of project going off-track, the project managers don’t share this information with others thinking that it’s too premature. They want to put the best effort to get it on-track. This is the first step in the spiral of getting too attached to the project!

It’s project review, not your performance review

  • Yes, it’s not your performance review. There can be a project that has really gone very well and received good feedback from customers, but team members and delivery managers would know that the Project Manager did a lousy job. On the contrary, there can be a project that miserably failed, but the Project Manager did his best to deliver the project against all odds. Hence a project review is simply a project review. It’s not your performance review. Don’t get defensive.

It’s you who leads the review, not the reviewer

  • It’s always you who has the maximum stake in the project. Hence you lead the review and not the reviewer. Take initiative and demonstrate your leadership qualities in the project review.

Prepare in advance. Spend few minutes to reflect

  • As mentioned earlier, there is no substitute for preparation. It’s not about spending hours filling up the project logs or making the power-point slides, it’s about spending quality time on how you can use the review to clear the roadblocks and move the project ahead.

Walk in with a set of objectives that you wish to accomplish

  • As a part of the preparation for the review, list down set of objectives that you wish to accomplish by the end of the review. Most often they should link to top risks and issues. Things which are bother you. Don’t bring up administrative tasks such as asking your manager to approve leaves, asking him to send someone for a conference or training program, etc.

Don’t have hidden agenda

  • As you start the review, share your objectives. Don’t run the review with hidden agenda. It doesn’t help anyone.

Take liberty to decide the participants for the review

  • You are leading the review. Based on the risks and issues, if you feel for an additional invitee in the review, take the initiative to invite him, for example, the HR manager. It’s much better than complaining about him in the review in his absence. More importantly, you can expect resolutions to issue in the review.

Set the stage for reviews

  • Most often participants may have diverse opinion about an issue. The duration of the review meeting may not be sufficient to convince or even simply get them on same page. Hence, if needed, set the stage by sending emails on the issue and having one-to-one meeting with relevant stakeholders.

If you expect support or help from reviewer, let her know in advance

  • If you know that for some items the review cannot get remedies instantly, take the initiative to inform them in advance that you are likely to bring up that particular issue for discussion in the review. It gives him time to come prepared for the reviews.

Don’t get mechanical and move slide-by-slide, prioritize important issues

  • And finally in the review, don’t just move from slide to slide. Choose the important areas or slides to focus in the review and quickly bring the attention of the reviewers to those areas.

In continuation to this article, I will cover some tips for reviewers in future article.

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