I made pancakes this past weekend. I really shouldn’t be eating them, but wow, did I have a craving for something sweet!
I could have gone out for breakfast. I could have said “nope” and eaten something healthier.
The fact is, I’m a good cook. I can make just about anything. And if I want something bad enough, it’s way too easy to talk myself into making it.
That’s both a blessing and a curse.
A blessing because I can always feed myself (and what I make is healthier than anything at a typical restaurant, anyway). It’s cheaper than giving into the craving and heading out for pancakes…or steak.
But my kitchen skills can also be a curse.
Because even though I may be able to talk myself out of running to the local café, if I have the ingredients sitting right there in my kitchen, it’s hard to resist making something I want!
This concept of “both a blessing and curse” hits many Project Managers hard. A lot of us come from the business, and can clearly see what needs to happen in a particular project area.
These PMs are blessed with understanding, and can use that knowledge to guide the team and pick up on risks earlier. They are the ones who “get it” and provide a good sounding board or another pair of eyes to solve a problem.
But when you know how, it can be really tough to resist jumping in and doing the team’s work.
Have you ever heard yourself say “it would take less time to do it than explain it”? I know I have. Just like making pancakes, it’s hard to resist!
But, like making a treat, doing the team’s work isn’t all that good for you….or them.
When you jump in, your team doesn’t feel autonomous, and it can erode the trust you’ve built up. If you don’t take the time to teach them, how will they grow and be able to handle the next challenge that appears?
From your perspective, it may feel good to “get your hands dirty” with something familiar. But you probably have more than enough project management work to keep you busy.
Yes, sometimes it’s “all hands on deck” and everyone pitches in. That actually improves how the team functions and gets the job done faster. But in most cases, doing it yourself is really not the best option.
The next time you have the urge to jump in and do it yourself, consider: even if you can, is it the right choice?
PS – When I’m leading a software implementation, I try to avoid having a logon. It can be way too tempting to start playing! How can you stay an extra step away from the “danger zone”?