Dear Project Manager: Why Should Anyone Want To Work For You?

Why should people want to work on your project?

You know about globalization, you know this makes employees competing with people from all over the world. Have you considered The Other Consequence? That you have to compete with other GLOBAL companies and Project Managers to get good people to staff your projects?

If developers, testers and other talented individuals can work for any project all over the world, why should they work for you?

Let me start with the answer:

Because you have a project that is life changing, that is worth their effort. Because you provide an awesome creative and inspiring environment. You provide leadership that inspires people to rise to the occasion, to become larger than themselves. You give trust, and you can be trusted.

A year ago I called this working environment a Project Tribe:

“The central element of a tribe is the leader and the idea, the goal. You need a leader who can inspire, one that can present Big Audacious Goals that seem to rock the world. Your project needs Al Gore, your project needs goals like “Save The Planet”. That’s why people join the gang. That’s why people want to be part of it (…)

The leader will set some rules of interaction. The leader will keep efforts aligned. Within this context the teams get self-organized and the Big Hairy Audacious Goal makes sure it’s all in the right direction.”

This is a “happy view” of the world. It is optimistic. It assumes the best in people. Some people might consider it a naive picture of their “real world”. But everybody determines his or her own world view, their mental picture that determines how they view and experience things. If you assume people cannot be trusted to perform work on their own, that’s your choice. I choose to believe empowerment works.

I am convinced that if this style of management is in your brain, you have a more tolerating, productive and positive mind set, one that is based upon trust instead of fear. It is about a better human-human interaction.

Do I dare to say, a better, more ethical sustainable world?

Isn’t that worth working for?

And yes, it’s us, the Project Managers, that play an important role. If changes have to be done, you hire a Project Manager:

“People will turn to us to get thing done. We are the Getting-Things-Done-Squad! We have to drive these changes trough the swamp of corporate and global politics; we have to go full speed with zero-visibility; we have to make it all fit together in the end. There is no time for compliance-for-compliance-sake, review-upon-review, no-you-cannot-change Project Management.”

You see, you really need to be this all engaging, empowering, inspiring, purpose providing Leader (with a HUGE L). It’s the only way to get the right people. It’s the only way to contribute to society.

For those of you who want to con the system, and keep on squeezing the last drop of performance out of depressed employees… Do it once, do it twice.. and you’re out of a job. The Internet introduced deadly transparency. The flattened and connected world makes sure reputations spread faster than you can say “Yihaa”.

Who is going to work for you if you have a shady reputation?


1 thought on “Dear Project Manager: Why Should Anyone Want To Work For You?”

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    Bas, terrific post! Yes, I’d love to work for an exceptional PM who has responsibility for a project with a fantastic and exiting BHAG. But, what about those poor, unlucky PMs who have been asked to lead a project to fix a broken production line for a product that will soon be replaced by the next big thing? Those PMs must be truly INSPIRING in order to attract any talent at all! They have to be very creative to come up with their own BHAGs, and do so in a non-transparent way, because even the slowest person on the team will see right through hype. Perhaps the PMP coursework should include song and dance.

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