Sunday, February 17, 2008

Handling Boredom

Handling Boredom

This week two Project Managers I know complained of boredom in their work. Surprised, I asked them what the causes were for these very unfortunate symptoms.

In both cases there was a clear lack of pressure. On top of this, both PM’s felt that the content of their projects was too routine, “everything is under control” one told me. “There are no issues that are not taken care of and all of my project members and stakeholders are happy!” Of course this is the state that all projects should ideally be in. But it appears that without adrenaline things become very quickly boring for talented PM’s.

First of all we need to separate the clearly unhealthy constant adrenaline rush of out of control projects from the normal level of day to day activities (such as not being able to find a parking space when you are late for an appointment, or not being able to find the dial in number for a telephone conference call that started two minutes ago).

However, if you find yourself on a project which is boring because everything is under control – then be careful not to do what so many PM’s do: make their projects more complex than they need be or, even worse, encourage scope creep.

In the case of boredom, such as above. You have two key choices:

1. Take on more projects until you get to your desired stress level (become a Program Director) or:
2. Hand your project/projects over to someone else and look for something completely new. Because it might just be that you have quite simply outgrown your current position and a complete new take on life is required?

If you want to go for option 2, and you have heavy financial commitments in your private life – then take independent advice, before jumping. Otherwise your private stakeholders may not thank you for it, especially if they were not included in your decision making process.

There is also a section on ‘Handling Boredom’ in my book ‘Making a Difference’ which outlines the tragic consequences that Boredom can have on a business, if it is not identified and dealt with early enough. In Making a Difference, the emphasis is on bored CEO’s but it can just as easily be applied to Project, Program and Interim Managers.

1 comment:

Matthijs said...

If a project manager is boring, because everything of the project is under control, I think that he or she should prevent of becoming arrogant. The next hurdle, in these rapidly changing times, is always around the corner and complacency is playing with the devil. However, if one is bored in general of being a project manager, one should take option 2. In that case, I would like to advice you not to go after an independent advisor. Instead, one should in my opinion find themselves a coach. A coach does not give you any advice, but will enter into conversations with you in order to provide you with insights in what you are, what you can and what you want. You have all the answers yourself, you only need to clarify them, not only with the help of a coach, but with the help of your private stakeholders as well. And by the way, not having heavy financial commitments in your private life is not a prerequisite for changing your course of life.