As a project manager, you're constantly searching for ways to make your teams work harder, better, together. You try to cultivate an atmosphere of candor so that the team feels comfortable bringing issues forward. You meet with teammates one-on-one to understand what motivates them. You try to identify and diagnose any issues that may be impeding them from completing their work effectively. Examples of issues might include a lack of understanding of the client context, a lack of interest in the subject matter, a computer that doesn't work, and/or a personality conflict with another team member. Lack of confidence can also be a big showstopper--and one that's tougher to resolve. Part of this is on the PM. If you give off the vibe that you're not approachable or micro manage your team members so that they're afraid to fail, then understandably they will hesitate to take risks, even small ones. But, if you're a member of a team, no matter who your PM is, the onus is on you to get your life together in this area.
I met with a few folks this week who asked me to help them self-evaluate their performance. These conversations prompted me to reflect on some tips for self-promotion, which has honestly never been problematic for an extrovert like me from a state famous for our overly opinionated and brash self-confidence.
Reality check yourself. I met with one individual this week who was struggling to describe how their current role qualified them for a potential new opportunity. In the course of a 1.5 hour conversation about their resume, it came out that they manage the workload for 10 staff members. This accomplishment appeared nowhere on their resume because their company didn't consider them a manager. If you're doing the job, titles don't matter. We believe the narrative we tell ourselves.
Roll out the red carpet. Another individual I met with wanted to be an expert in a particular field. They were pursuing tasks on their current project that related to the subject matter and taking external training. The problem? No one else on the team had any idea of their interest. If you're already distinguishing yourself from your peers by educating yourself on something new, go the extra mile to talk about what you learned and, better still, find ways to incorporate those teachings on your current project.
See something, say something. Remember in school when you got points for participation? While the workplace isn't as forgiving as the classroom, the same principle applies. If you have an idea, speak your mind. If speaking in front of a group terrifies you, broach the subject to one or two of your trusted peers first. Then, if they seem to think it makes sense, elevate the issue to your PM. If your PM is constantly shutting down or ignoring your suggestions, come up with a different way to pitch it. Check out this great article for suggestions on how to tailor your approach to different personality types.