Scanning your PM Landscape

Published on Mar 4th, 2011 by

Scanning your PM Landscape
Working as a PM you’re often confronted with new companies, new management and new people to manage.

To get up to speed comfortably as a PM in a new environment it’s essential to get to know the people you’re working with.

I like doing interviews with people when I arrive in a new company. Just talks where I try to ask the right questions. I’ve done this in several companies now and it’s surprising to see how much you can learn in early stages. The interviews are casual but planned and I take my time to prepare them. I try to do them as soon as possible.

I’ve kept a log of questions that offered interesting answers and want to share them with you, they’re in random order.

  • How do you know what to start working on in the morning?
  • Can I have a look at what you’re working on at the moment?
  • Can you show me one of your briefings?
  • How do you know when you’re doing a good job?
  • What kind of work do you really like to do?
  • Who do you talk to if you’re looking for feedback on a hard problem?
  • What’s going really well in your team/group/unit, what do you like best about the work?
  • Do you (and your colleagues/team) look back on a project? Do you document lessons learned?
  • Is it always clear to you who you’re working with on a project?
  • Do you spend a lot of time with clients or users? Would you like to (more)?

As you can see, normal straightforward stuff. All you need to do is listen carefully.

Best keep away from questions that pry for gossip or that could evoke any uncomfortable answers, that’s really not the point and it will get you in to trouble. People can tell that you’re going around, talking with everyone, you need to do this with great integrity.

The formal way people do things in a company is pretty easy to find out most of the time, it’s communicated openly and it’s often documented. You’ll learn a lot if you start looking for what is not said and what is not documented.

Take aways:

  • get to know people, ask questions
  • maintain your integrity, be genuine
  • look at what’s not there

Getting your head around the informal processes and finding out who you’re working with is a result of what I like to call scanning the landscape.

 

 

Latest Comments (1)

New PM Articles for the Week of February 28 – March 6 « The Practicing IT Project Manager

[…] Bert Heymans likes to conduct interviews of the people he’s going to work with when he begins a new project, and he shares his favorite interview questions. […]

March 7, 2011 06:06 Reply

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