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Wrangling Multiple Project Managers

By: Emily SH Brandesky, Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc.

In case you can’t tell from the photo below, I’m from Texas. And one thing I credit my home state with is an ability to wrangle chaos into order. Enter my project managers—all thirteen of them, one of whom is also the new big boss. And don’t forget my direct supervisor. There are some days where the requests for editing, reports, proposals, and event prep come in so fast, I feel like a herd of Longhorns have been set loose in the office. (Don’t get me started on multi-branch projects.) 

So how to wrangle?

  1. You need a serious handle on emotional intelligence.

Be mindful of your preferred MO and typical triggers, not to mention those of your PMs. Are you short on sleep? Did your co-worker recently suffer the death of a loved one? Is everybody starving and the meeting needs to end already? No, you don’t have to know everything about everyone - that’s the not the point. The point is that if you treat yourself with compassion and empathy, you can extend it to others. Keeping a sense of objectiveness and kindness, especially during peak stress periods, goes a long way. Be the rising waters to lift those around you.

  1. Communicate. Do it again. DO IT AGAIN.

Sometimes PMs are in such a rush, they don’t communicate a deadline. Even when asked repeatedly. Make sure all parties are clear on expected deadlines, and confirm via email if the agreement is reached verbally. Then, do your best to deliver early. And don’t forget, communication is a two-way street. Effectively communicating your workload goes a long way in reaching mutually-agreeable and reasonable expectations. I mentioned “communication” three times for a reason—it’s important.

  1. Prioritize.

Do you tackle the surprise 200 page report due EOB, or get a handful of 5 to 10 minute tasks out of the way first? I opt for the latter because less clutter makes for a clearer mind in my book. Or hand off the small fish, let your team know you’re reeling in the big catch, and forge ahead.

  1. Work as a team.

Offer help. Ask for help. It’s that simple.

  1. Give Yourself Space.

I do my best work with a little space. A clean desk, a short stretch and walk every hour, or a few minutes of quiet reflection go a long way in upping the quality and quantity of my production. I keep a short to-do list, and I only go through my emails three times a day. I do not jump at every ping - in fact, I don’t even have the ping turned on. I have a personal goal to approach my day with as much serenity as possible, and though that can be hard-earned at times, I find that when I treat myself well, it’s a cinch to extend it to others.


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