Development Cooperation Handbook/The video resources linked to this handbook/The Documentary Story/The boss is never happy (especially if it is a project manager)
The boss is never happy (especially if he is a project manager)
I asked Fausto to start editing the Millennium Village project story. He did a decent job, considering his inexperience. We had the "minimum acceptable quality" for social work documentaries, and so we could already start using it as formal justifications for the expenses incurred: I put it on Youtube and mentioned it, in the intermediate progress report, as a completed project output. But I complained to Fausto that the story was without suspense, that it had a didascalic character. And that there were not enough images of the work in progress in the countryside. We hear people speaking of problems, and of solutions. But we do not see the problems. We do not see the solutions. In this way it is like a radio documentary, with the only difference that we see the face of the persons who talk. How can we bring the viewer there in rural India if we are not able to show farmers at work, fields, crops, animals, etcetera? Where is the sweat, the fatigue, the worries of the local farmers? We cannot talk of the work: we need to show it in progress!
Also the first cut editing of the Gauri was well done, considering it that it was her first time. But she also had overloaded the story with the images of the people interviewed, while we had few images of what was happening and of the whole social and cultural context.
So I was somehow critical to them. I meant to indicate them the road to produce something of a better quality. But somehow they resented my criticism and felt they were not sufficiently appreciated for the sincere effort they had done.
These are the typical difficulties of managing a project team. On the one side, as team manager, you have to be a friend, a confident, one who mobilize the spontaneous dedication and creativity of your junior colleagues. On the other side you have to be severe, and adopt with them that kind of "violence" that the project is in fact bringing upon you: because the schedule never gives you enough time and sufficient resources to reach the expected quality, stay within the timelines and follow the agreed methodology! Problems arise and then: you have to solve them usually at the cost of your own calm and freedom. As a project manager you have no excuses: you have to solve the problems. And for that you need to ask the solidarity of your colleagues. But they want you to solve the problems that they are facing. So you sometime feel squeezed between the two sides of expectations: of the sponsors, who want maximum results; and of the team partners, who want maximum of comfort and dignity. So you are actually really alone in cushioning off the opposite expectations. If you are not able to face that loneliness you cannot be a project manager.
At the same time a project is really a human adventure. And as all human adventures they have their real value from the spirit by which they face the unexpected challenges encountered on the path. When it happens that the project team acts with a spirit of human solidarity, then the challenges become a vehicle of increased cohesion; problems become the triggers of creativity and the peculiarity of each person become the real unique asset of your team. Then is when the job becomes really satisfying, in spite of how tiring it may be.
There is plenty of managerial advice on how the built a team spirit. But I do not think that there is any technique that works. It basically depends on the humanity of the persons that trigger the chemistry. And it depends upon the kind of objective you want to reach, how much that objective appeals to the sense of humanity of the team members. With creativity is like with love: sharing the motivation is what triggers the art. Then you can use your "professionally" to ride the flow. But professionally itself does not make brings about the right chemistry.