How to be a winning project manager: Manage up and out

Are you working flat out to deliver your project while almost no one is noticing or seems to care?

Winning project managers avoid this situation by managing up and out. This shift in focus is feasible because they rely on the experience of their project team to ensure project deliverables are completed and are fit-for-purpose. We talked about how loser project managers behave in the last blog.
Are you managing up and out enough?
Ask yourself these questions to determine if your focus as a project manager is sufficiently up and out:
1. Am I meeting face-to-face with my project sponsor roughly monthly?
2. Are the majority of the project steering committee members showing up for meetings?
3. Have stakeholders ever commented on my monthly project status reports?
4. Am I meeting members of the project steering committee individually roughly quarterly?
5. Can I say that stakeholders are mentioning the projects and its benefits case in discussions with their peers?
6. Am I hearing misleading or downright wrong hallway chatter about my project?
7. Does the project deliverable list include a project communication plan or is the plan is inadequate or is the plan not well executed?

What do the answers mean?
More wrong answers to these questions typically mean the following:
1. Your stakeholders don’t attach much importance to your project, likely due to a lack of information.
2. You are not spending enough time communicating to stakeholders.
3. Your project communication plan is inadequate.
4. You are more comfortable working with your project team and less comfortable interacting with the more senior stakeholders around the project.
5. Project stakeholders may be tired of hearing only positive, self-congratulatory comments from you.

Now What?
Consider these actions since you presumably want to improve your career prospects and enhance your project’s reputation.
1. Remind stakeholders regularly of the benefits case your project is delivering.
2. Thoroughly prepare and then hold short interactions with your project sponsor and members of your steering committee.
3. Make sure your steering committee meetings contain balanced content and require the members to make real decisions.
4. Dial back on the self-congratulatory comments.

This blog is a continuation of my previous blog titled: Loser project managers manage down and in.

If you disagree with how I’ve described the priorities of project managers, ask yourself if you are acting more as a project administrator than as a project manager.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Yogi Schulz
Yogi Schulz
Yogi Schulz has over 40 years of Information Technology experience in various industries. Yogi works extensively in the petroleum industry to select and implement financial, production revenue accounting, land & contracts, and geotechnical systems. He manages projects that arise from changes in business requirements, from the need to leverage technology opportunities and from mergers. His specialties include IT strategy, web strategy, and systems project management.

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