The life of a project manager is tough. Expectations, deadlines, staff issues – they all transpire to ensure that your Monday is going to be tough, let alone the rest of the week. Working for a project manager can be even tougher – especially if they’re incredibly stressed out.

They obviously have an important job. A well trained project manager will be the most important person on the job and they will have a knack for spotting issues before they arise. They’ll also (hopefully) know how to deal with issues and deliver a working, efficient project.

So what’s the secret to keeping your project manager happy? How can you keep them on your side without being seen as teacher’s pet?

As with most job-related issues, things go wrong when communication breaks down. Information is the key to keeping your project manager happy because with it, he or she can make better and more accurate decisions. All updates that affect how they will be handling a particular issue, if not the entire project itself, need to be communicated to them.

Of course, if you’re telling them about a problem, it’s sometimes best to approach with some idea of how the problem can be solved, too. I remember one guy I worked with had a mantra:

“The buck doesn’t stop here; the buck never gets here!”

He basically expected all problems to either be solved, or on their way to being solved by his team before he got to hear about it. He was a very empowering person to work with, but I can’t help think he wanted the easy life!

Be Positive

Another great trait for anyone working on a project is to remain positive at all times. Yes, the sky may be falling on your heads but there’s surely a solution to the problem at hand? If not then maybe there’s a way of finding a solution?

Optimism can help a lot and a project manager who is constantly being hit with problems all day can be forgiven for leaving the office in a negative mood. They won’t be working at their most efficient and they certainly won’t be looking forward to the next day’s list of problems.

They get hungry

“What??!! They’re human??”

Believe it or not, yes, they’re human. Of a kind, anyway.

Even though they can be seen as hard-nosed robots put there to crack the whip and make sure everything gets done properly and on-time, they do sometimes require food. Like all people, if they’re hungry then they’re not going to be working to their full potential. So, take them for a bite to eat.

I made a friend for life when I approached one of the hardest project managers I’d ever worked with and asked her if she’d like a coffee. Nobody had asked before.

Give them a break

At the end of the day, give them some slack. I’m not saying this as a project manager by the way, I’m saying this from experience of dealing with them. Give them some time to wind down and relax, too. Instead of always bringing problems, highlight the great things that have happened on the project or maybe offer to help sort out some of the other issues that are dogging them.

Talk

Technology has the power to bring people together. It also has the power to keep people apart. I remember reading some time back that only 7% of what we say is the words we use. I actually think this is probably wrong, but from what I’ve experienced in my work with Project Bubble, an entirely cloud based project system, things can go awry if you don’t watch what you say.

I use the system a lot to communicate with clients and co-workers across continents and in one particular situation things nearly went very wrong when a comment was misunderstood.

One of my team, thinking he was being clever said in a message on a task:

“I don’t want nothing from you”.

The person reading this thought that meant they didn’t want “anything” from them, thinking that the person writing the message was using slang. Of course, the person who wrote it literally meant what was written – they did want something from them. The emphasis on the wording is lost when transferred to pure text.

Sometimes, it’s just better to pick up the phone!