The one massive problem with the job title of Project Manager is that, sadly, to many folk a manager is someone who tells other people what to do. Now at some time or other a Project Manager working in pretty well any environment may well need to tell his or her staff what to do – but to be a truly great Project Manager that should only ever be a rare event indeed. Instead you need to be able to facilitate others to meet the demands that the project expects of them. So, what is the importance of facilitating and how should you set about becoming a facilitator?
Why should you aim to facilitate?
In the working environment, tell most people what to do and they’ll do it – to the letter. But therein lies the problem, they’re likely to do exactly as you tell them, whether they know it to be right or wrong and will do no more or less. That would be a managers approach. A facilitator will take a different approach to getting a task done. First of all they’ll realize it probably involves more than one person with more than one skill set and, almost certainly, will benefit from extra input over and above the initial work required. So a facilitator will, where appropriate, put together a team of people, quite possibly an inter-disciplinary team, to work on a task/problem and will then leave them to solve the task/problem.
Fundamentals for facilitating.
Regarding becoming a facilitator and we’ll expand more on this in later articles, to begin with simply try shifting your management style so that it incorporates more of the following activities. 1) Getting staff used to working collaboratively in teams. Giving staff individual tasks to complete is all well and good but how more effective might they all be if all of their talent(s) were to be shared? 2) Give the teams autonomy to make decisions, subject to their being collective agreement about the decision and it having undergone an appropriate level of scrutiny within the team. 3) Be prepared to provide some seeding of ideas to collaborative teams in the beginning. Remember you may well throw together a fairly disparate group of individuals who are unsure how to begin working in a team – so be prepared to kick-start them and, at least initially, monitor their progress.