Project Management as a Labor of Love

I approach project management not from the perspective of a project manager or as an executive but rather out of love and happiness. I want people to love what they do, simply stated. We are seeing the nature of work changing, that there are multiple ways to do things. Let us apply what we learn creatively and make the workplace happy. – Joe DiMello, University of Chicago instructor

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According to a Gallup poll, 70% of Americans do not like their jobs and if they had the option to move to another job, they would immediately quit working at their current one.

Over half of the 70% of workers dissatisfied with their jobs reported deliberately undermining their fellow employees who seemed engaged and happy in their work.

Nearly 90% of managers believe employees quit over low salaries. In reality, about 10% of employees report leaving an organization for a pay raise.

Nearly 60% of employees would trust a stranger more than they would trust their bosses.

Over half of those in managerial roles in organizations were never trained to manage. They were high-performing employees who were promoted to management based on their merits.

Out of everything my instructor said during the intensive project management course I took at University of Chicago, the above quote and statistics made the most impact on me. I had not considered that disorganization would be a leading cause of mismanagement, only that poor management leads to chronically unhappy workers. It makes sense, though, Without careful and deliberate planning, the organization’s higher vision and purpose are obscured. Without active project management in either a formal or informal capacity, deadlines creep up on a team without warning. Then management must rely on “heroes” to complete the work or unintentionally grind employees into the ground to make that deadline.

I also never considered that a business-minded person would have an interest in approaching project management out of love and wanting people to love what they do. Many of my fellow students enrolled in the course, most of them managers themselves, agreed with the instructor’s perspective and identified which of their own shortcomings led them to enroll in this course. They talked about their own misconceptions about work, that they originally felt “work” was something delegated 100% to employees on the lower rungs and their own roles were a nebulous kind of “management,” often indescribable qualitatively and quantitatively. A manager’s philosophy of work can make or break a project or even an entire organization, especially when those in these supervisory roles find their own responsibilities difficult to describe.

Like my fellow students, I had originally considered the definition of the manager to be “one who gets the job done.” This, too, is nebulous and unable to be described except in terms of the end goal. In reality, “getting the job done” is the final step in a long sequence of tasks, events, and decisions, all made by the people in the organization or comprising the team. It is the people who need to be managed, not the tasks. It is people’s talent that needs to be leveraged, not past accomplishments.

Many managers would benefit from taking a course or two in project management even if they are not planning on working towards certification. The ones at University of Chicago require practical application of theory and hands-on work with teams. I am not paid or compensated in any way to give the course a plug. People from science research and development, law firms, fundraising departments, pharmaceutical research teams, and education all stated that they found the course useful in their everyday work.

A few posts back, I had mentioned something about the benefits of writing outside my comfort zone. It seems that I have also gained something from taking a course and advancing my knowledge in something previously out of my comfort zone. I have enrolled for the second course for the University of Chicago Essentials of Project Management certificate with the same instructor. I cannot wait to see what other ideas he has to share with us.

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