I’d like to share a story about my dear friend Pam. Pam’s a project manager. She’s 37 years old. She’s extremely successful. She went to a very prestigious school–Get It Done University. You may have heard of it.
Pam takes her bourbon neat and golfs on the weekend to unwind. She doesn’t care about power. What she DOES care about is helping others and moving projects forward. That’s it! It’s simple! That’s what motivates her.
Some people say that Pam is an amazing project manager.
But not everyone. Not even close.
Some project managers just rub folks the wrong way. I’ve heard everything from “Pam is too direct”, “Pam asks too many questions”, “She’s cold, just not a nice person.” I’ve even heard “That devil woman is ALL up in my biscuit!”
I can’t speak for those people because Pam and I get along famously. Why? While it’s true we went to the same alma mater, we also SPEAK the same language. We speak the same “PM Love Language.”
What happens to Pam when you use Pam’s love language? Why is it important?
I’ll tell you. The faster you two get on the same page, the less chance for miscommunication, time waste, and even money waste. After all, Time = Money.
But wait, there’s more!
There are positive and pleasant side effects. You may notice Pam begin to relax. She may even smile. Pam may even joke around with you like you’re an old pal.
And you know what? That’s where I want to be when I work with Pam. I want a relaxed, open, honest, and respectful working relationship with Pam.
Now for the secret sauce.
I WISH I had known this when I first started working with project managers. That is before I became one!
It’s so easy. Here are the 2 ingredients.
The PM Love Language Demystified
USE ACTION WORDS
Tailor your language in such a way that you are using ACTION words. Words like “DO, CREATE, COMPLETE, DELIVER, SHARE, DRAFT, RECOMMEND” are great places to start.
Why? Action words indicate motion. Motion implies progress. It means things are happening. It means WORK is happening. It’s like music to a PM’s ears.
A project in motion has a better chance of remaining in motion, a project that is stagnant means that force needs to be applied to move the project into motion.
But using action words is only half of the secret ingredients
An action needs an owner
An action needs an end
This brings me to the next ingredient . . .
Pam speaks in specifics, writes in specifics, and thinks in specifics.
If Pam asks you a question, think–and I mean really think– about the words you use when you respond. You see, Pam is trained through her experience to LOCK ON to specific words that you use.
If you flippantly use a term like “disaster” when talking about something, this is a trigger word for a PM to ask more questions to determine why you think something is a disaster. PMs are PROFESSIONAL QUESTIONS ASKERS and will not stop until your “disaster” is completely understood and broken down into simple building blocks.
Pam is trained to isolate problems, compartmentalize work, understand the big picture processes, and be able to dig into details like an investigator if needed. The more specific you are with Pam the better off you will be and the less time you will need to spend answering Pam’s questions.
If you say to Pam, “Hi Pam, the research will be done this week.” Pam is NOT going to appreciate your cryptic statement. She may even begin to slowly turn into the aforementioned devil woman. Why?
Pam has no idea who is doing the research and what the end looks like. Research can take a few hours to a few months! The research NEEDS an end.
You are simply inviting Pam to ask you questions until she understands what she needs to understand.
By contrast, if you say to Pam — “Based on our research, Jane is going to create a bulleted list of the top 3 threats to the company by Friday–noon.” GREAT! Pam understands perfectly. She is now free to move on to something else. You’ve just freed up Pam’s time. And Pam will LOVE you for it.