We’ve looked at some of the problems pleasers can sometimes create within the project team as they try to execute initiatives without upsetting customers. Fortunately, a strong project management methodology gives PMs the tools they need to eliminate many of the issues pleasers commonly trigger. This not only keeps customers and the executive group happier, it also ensures the team is able to perform well and derive more satisfaction from their role in moving every project to a successful completion.
One way to help solve the pleaser problem is to develop healthy communication channels, both internally and across the stakeholder base—that includes sponsors and champions, end users, the executive team, and any external vendors or other outside collaborators. But bad news occasionally needs to be given and a solid communication plan alone won’t necessarily help a pleaser deliver a message that’s sure to upset someone.
To smooth out that process, consider partnering with a facilitatorto help keep team meetings, progress updates and other interactions efficient and driven by data rather than emotion or ego. In toxic environments especially, where sharing unpleasant information is discouraged or punished, an experienced project management consultant can act as a buffer between stakeholders and the project group. Team members will be more comfortable raising alerts about potential delays or budget issues, while the senior staff benefit from having someone involved in the process whose role is to focus on the project’s ultimate success.
If your pleasers are famous for staying mum even as their workloads become unsustainable, it’s time to leverage highly accurate task duration estimates. This approach starts the project on the right foot, since your team will have the detailed, dependable data they need to create a timeline that’s realistic and workable. You’ll help your pleasers avoid finding themselves juggling too many tasks down the road and your executives will appreciate knowing they can rely on the schedules your team presents to them.
It can sometimes be a challenge to gather good quality estimates if your group is used to developing schedules based on guesses or using timelines from previous projects. This route is fast but it’s not nearly accurate enough to be useful. Instead, you’ll get better results from bringing in a project management consultancyto help identify who should be providing task duration estimates in the early planning stages. With the right people in the room, you’ll receive much more reliable data and you’ll also have an opportunity to flesh out questions about sequencing dependent activities, where craft labor or other niche expertise will be needed, and if there are opportunities to compress the schedule by carrying out some tasks simultaneously.
With many of the baseline pleaser problems handled, the use of stringent project controlswill help to ensure things are on track once the planning phase is out of the way and the team has moved on to execution. You’ll get early notification of potential delays, funding issues that are still on the horizon, and looming resource conflicts. If you’re concerned your team is running too lean to monitor progress or that your pleasers may still try to avoid alerting the rest of the group to pending trouble spots—particularly when you’re dealing with an initiative that’s high risk, high visibility, complex, or where you’re facing tight deadlines—you’ll benefit from establishing a relationship with a project management consulting firm experienced in applying project controls and tracking progress in real time.
With the right project management methodology in place, your pleasers and the rest of your team can focus on moving your project down the path to success.