Many Project Managers who work off the side of an operational desk find their own priorities are as difficult to manage as the teams workload. The hardest part about managing your own capacity for work is the lack of distance. You dont get to look through unstressed eyes at the real problem.
Step one for resolving this is to check to see if the project is being affected. Sometimes the problem isnt in the project. Youll save a lot of time and confusion if you check for issues to be resolved.
What do you see happening?
When the project manager cant pay attention to their project these are the common symptoms each with a solution.
- If deadlines are being missed without advance notice – start following up on the next deadlines
- If people stop talking – start talking and theyll join in
- If you dont feel like you know whats going on – start making some calls or drop by peoples desks to ask
How can you resolve it beyond treating symptoms?
It is harder for you to make sure your operational duties and your project management duties dont keep bumping up against each other. No one wants to feel like they are always about the drop the ball. But because you are leading both types of duties, no one nags you to be done on time.
Lets assume you cant stop doing the operational duties – although I strongly suggest you look at where you can delegate. The tip Ive always found the most useful is to plan your next week/month.
On a paper calendar, start plugging in the deadlines for both operational and project work. Look at where they conflict. Then reschedule as much as possible. When you can see whats coming, you have a better chance of managing it.
The other benefit is that you have something concrete to show your boss or your sponsor if you need to negotiate changes.
A final thought:
Project work is often like a feast or famine. Most project managers will have times when there are not enough hours in the day. Sometimes this can lead to thinking you are not balancing your workload, but you are. Taking a longer perspective of the workload means you see the management part of the project, not just the 18-hour day in front of you.