Did I say you could step in to my shoes?

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Project managers make decisions that affect others nearly as often as they breathe. The behaviours they use and the decisions they make may affect the motivation, the performance and the wellbeing of those around them, the team they work with.

Have you ever been in the position where someone made decisions that did not make sense to you, made you feel angry or very frustrated? They made decisions without talking to you, without understanding the implications and for their own benefit instead of for the good of the project.

We often hear sayings similar to 

“Always walk in the others shoes and if you feel it hurts you, it probably hurts the person too” - Rachel Grady

And so we wish the decision maker would be able to see things from our point of view. However if we apply the same quotation to ourselves, do we put ourselves in the decision makers shoes? The one that did this to us? Did they have a valid reason for the direction they have taken?

It is a conundrum. Who should walk in whose shoes? Where does it end?

When I start thinking about the spiral of thought that this can create it is clear that the only thing that I can affect is my own thoughts and reactions. In order for the cycle to stop I can try and stop it through my actions.

I try to always step back and keep in mind that the only thing I can control is the way I behave in these situations. I keep in mind a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt

“To handle yourself use your head. To handle others use your heart”

I like to think that the project manager I would want people to see  would display behaviours and decisions that are objective, non-judgemental, supportive and focus on peoples strengths.

A project manager that lets team members walk their own path and that steps beside them at the right time when you need to talk to them and get a view closer to what they see and when they need praise, encouragement or support. Making sure not to step on their toes or take over their shoes.

 “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.“ - John Quincey Adams

I try to keep the following in mind:

  • Don’t ever judge anyone.
  • Don’t underestimate people until you’ve challenged them, they often surprise you for the better.
  • Don’t talk about someone until you have talked to them.
  • Don’t assume that if you step in to their shoes that you will be understand as you have not walked the same path as they have.
  • Don’t assume that if you step in to their shoes that you will be welcome.

Everyone is different and are the people they are because of their own personal experiences. Even if you know someone well you cannot know everything about them. People do surprise you and themselves.

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Posted by Eleri Evans on 17th Nov 2015

About the Author
Eleri is the director of Trans4rm Ltd, delivering people development solutions. These include open programmes for "Developing Personal Identity as a Project Manager", "The Emotionally Intelligent Project Manager" and "Mental Toughness for Project Managers". Eleri is secretary for the People SIG (2015-2016) and is lead for the research around Emotional Intelligence and Behaviours that has approved funding from the APM. Eleri has a track record of over 20 years delivery in project management delivering change (people, business and technology) as a platform of knowledge to support the programmes she delivers.

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