Sometimes you need to lead senior project managers or even just senior team members. There are serious challenges you will face for sure. They won’t recognize your authority. They will keep to old ways of doing things. They will have their own interests. It means many conflict situations.
I get it. It is painful.
You might be even trying to avoid it subconsciously.
“Do I hire and prefer to work with people of about my age?”
It is normal if you do.
However, you might be missing a lot of opportunities by avoiding working with established leaders and senior project managers. Moreover, it should not be that stressful or risky.
So, today we will talk about five tips you should follow to benefit from working with senior managers, leaders, and highly experienced team members.
I can’t boast that I understood it all from the start. I must admit I learned some of these tips the hard way. So, I saw the difference between the wrong and the correct approaches.
I just want to warn you. These tips work better all together as they integrate into one another. Therefore, to get better results work in all directions.
1. Find Out Personal Stories
Behind vast experience, developed ego, and a long history of working in the company there are also family, hobbies, and outside-the-work goals.
Senior project managers and team members have already achieved status and developed some self-esteem. More and more their focus shifts from work to other areas of life.
You must recognize and respect that.
A lot of resistance will develop to protect that lifestyle.
You need to show your productivity and authority. But I don’t recommend endangering those aspects of their life.
Here is the catch:
Try to leverage this knowledge to build better relationships. Show that you understand them. Show them that you acknowledge their achievements and assets in the company.
2. Communicate Your Vision of Successful Project
There is one thing you cannot allow to happen when leading senior project managers.
You can’t apply ad-hoc or “hope management.”
You need to have a clear vision of how to make things happen. It will be even better if you have a plan at hand.
You see, established leaders and senior managers have a history of successes and failures. They have a preferred project management approach that proved to be fruitful.
You might not be able to persuade them that your approach is better. Nevertheless, they will not follow you until they see that you have a valid plan at hand.
They have more authority due to many years of working in the company. If you don’t prove your capability, they will try to use that and influence your superiors to gain more control.
They will do that with best intentions in mind.
However, it will not help you.
3. Listen to Them But Don’t Hand-off Controls
You need to Listen to the leaders and senior managers. They have a treasure of knowledge and experience.
Ignoring it is a crime.
So, you do need to show genuine interest in their feedback and ideas.
Listen carefully but do manage expectations at once.
You have the vision of success. You explained it. You have to keep to it.
So, the best way is to filter ideas and suggestions through the vision. Explain that the input is valuable, but you don’t see how it fits into the concept.
Also, always keep this argument at hand:
As the assigned project manager you bear the responsibility for the project. Therefore, it is up to you to make the call.
You need to make an effort to communicate it transparently and honestly.
If you are not comfortable with what a senior project manager suggests, he or she has to work harder to prove the validity of the idea.
That should be totally OK.
4. Give Enough Freedom to Benefit From Vast Experience
It is more of a standard tip. But it is crucial in this case.
If you have someone with significant experience, skills, and knowledge you don’t want to force them into much of the limits.
If they accept your vision and values, give them freedom in execution.
You can always correct their work in the process. But let them choose the approach and create the first drafts.
Set your expectations and keep to the best practices of delegation.
Also, correct your own expectations and your role. While you do your part of the work, your responsibility is to integrate all the deliverables together.
To make it more effortless provide:
- Formatting standards, templates, and guidelines.
- Use collaboration tools and applications.
- Work on keeping your perfectionism at bay.
5. Communicate Current Project Status and Latest News
You need to ensure that senior project managers and team members have the big picture of the project. They need to know what’s happening behind the scene. They need to understand what happens in stakeholders’ minds.
You do need to filter information flow. However, keep your senior managers and leaders fully informed. Let them decide on the further application of project knowledge.
Keep in mind, it is a requirement for their best productivity.
It is always challenging to lead senior project managers, leaders, and experienced team members. It will not be easy even by following these tips. Also, it still takes time to form productive relationships.
Nevertheless, it should not stop you from working with them and leveraging the superior impact they can provide.
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