This blog post was originally a newsletter. It was supposed to go out last week (I automate email-sending, otherwise you’d receive 3 emails at 11pm and nothing over the months), but I forgot about it.
The responses started to come in… and they didn’t stop.
I received more than 40 emails in just a few days. Many of them were much longer than this article and each shared their own struggles, perspectives, and tips for coping.
Ironically, these replies arrived in my mailbox during a week in which I was struggling to get more sleep than three hours per night due to the fact there were two small children in my home who don’t sleep. I was so dependent on those emails that I stayed up all night reading them every Thursday night.
Thank you for your kind words. I tried to reply to everyone in person. It touched a personal chord with so many people that I thought I’d share it here.
It feels like there is an important distinction between emailing my “gang” and emailing me (does anyone want to be part of it?). Click here to join the inner circle. I am putting my thoughts online, and taking a deep breathe.
Since my maternity leave, it has been an operational role. I was responsible for staff management for a long time (although they have since passed). It’s strategic. It involves giving advice and acting as an intern consultant. It sounds incredible, doesn’t it?
This has meant I have had to manage multiple projects with different stakeholders. It’s different from what I was used to before having my boys. I also feel the guilt and stress of being a working parent.
It has been a difficult year. Some of my projects are still behind schedule. The one that was finished had many bugs and a messy go live. There were some successes but also high points. It is not enough.
I’m not a “pure PM” anymore, and I’m not properly PM’ing on the things I should be PMing. I’m a bit lost.
What I am doing about it
My colleague is well-known because of her strong delivery approach, and the success of projects.
I called her and we had tea together. She shared with me the things that make her teams successful.
Clear business case and active executive sponsoring
Weekly team meetings and a monthly face-to-face team meeting
Agendas and minutes and holding the team accountable for their actions
Expectations of success and a mindset that doesn’t allow for failure.
I was looking for more: the nugget that would make the lives of my project team easier. It didn’t arrive.
As I drank the last cup of tea I realized that it wasn’t coming. She is a leader who uses project management best practices and not magic. There is nothing I haven’t done before.
All I need to do is get more rest and think bigger.
What is going to change?
It’s misleading because I don’t understand what the heading means. I believe I can change the way I think. It is hard to let go of the guilt that comes with being a working parent. I won’t get more sleep or more hours per day. Instead, I should prioritize the things that are important – the stuff on my colleagues’ lists.
The two mantras “This too shall pass” (or “Suck it up”) were another thing that helped me get through my first months as a mother.
I know that I am a good project manager and a great parent. It doesn’t feel like that all the time. Ironically, I have mentored people who are in similar situations to mine and it is easier to give than to receive advice.
I would tell myself, “The boys have no importance.” Work is getting done. All stakeholders are happy. Be kind to yourself. Head down, crack on.