I believe that Rachel has spent her day in a very effective way given the responsibilities and constraints that limit her. The breakdown of her day describes in detail the variety of tasks she has performed all of which had importance in motivating her team and assisting her in managing the project.
Project management is a tactical job which has several aspects of management in it and Rachel displayed most of these concepts in her day’s work. The time spent in socializing too had a use in her project:
Rachel must have got to know about some of the mistakes others may have made earlier so that she did not repeat them.
She could be herself making some mistakes and realized this after talking to other IS managers.
News within the organization about others would give her a break from work so that she does not get bored and allow her to focus better when she sits down at her desk next.
A majority portion of Rachel’s work was spent in communication whether that was with the client, her boss or her team. Judging from the breakup, I estimate that this activity took up almost 75% of her day and included a variety of forms of communication including one hot-headed discussion with a senior marketing manager. The time she spent during the day waiting on others exemplifies the true professional environment where one cannot immediately get in touch with another person bringing about natural communication barriers. However, Rachel’s determination and the ability to shuffle tasks around saw her being able to handle all the aspects of communication she intended to do so within her day.
I think Rachel made effective use of her day because I saw her communicating all along the day and keeping all parties updated on the latest findings. Her meeting with her team saw her getting the task of speaking to John to clarify some promises. As soon as she spoke to John, she went to see Mary and soon after getting done with her, she updated her team on the findings. This, I believe was a collective act that I would rate as being amongst the ones that raised the utilization of her day. This is because communication in one of the main tenets of project management and Rachel ensured that all teams and people connected to the project or having a stake in it knew about what was going on in it (Lock, 2007).
Rachel also made use of the well-known tools and techniques used by project managers. Her what-if analysis on MS Project was an example of applying structure to a thought process to assess the possible implications of possible scenarios. I think that Rachel’s day was spent effectively because she managed to check on all her pending tasks, emails, phone calls and was able to make a to-do list for the next day based on the day’s happenings. This I believe was the icing on the cake in addition to the way she handled her role throughout the day by getting help where needed and promising to help where she could.
Project management is a mix of technical and managerial expertise which has several aspects of communication, management and technical expertise knitted together. Being a project manager thus requires elements like patience, the ability to listen to people, make decisions with constraints and manage people and their motivation.
Rachel’s example in the case study shows one of the many aspects of being a project manager and how it is important to be able to manage 360 degrees of your work life. The case also tells me that project management is a mix of art and structured tool analysis where the former is applicable to the people aspect of project management and the latter to the task management section.
I also get the feeling that communication is by far the most important job of a project manager and to manage a project well a project manager should be able to fight when required, stay patient when required and always keep them informed so that accurate decisions can be made on the basis of information. It also is a job which requires a great deal of information processing from teams which in turn requires status updates to bosses so a project manager is like a ladder processor of data.
Engaging in small talk, or small appreciations (verbal) to her team members give me the idea that project manager goes a lot beyond the bookish principles of task management and that managing people in any way that would motivate them the most is the task of a project manager. I believe that being a project manager requires a myriad of abilities including the knowledge of management, communication, logistics, finance and organizational behavior in addition to the most important one – interpersonal skills – without which all the rest are a waste (Phillips, 2010).
Lock, Dennis (2007). Project Management 9th ed., Gower Publishing, pp335-350.
Phillips, Joseph (2010). IT Project Management: On track from start to finish 3rd ed., McGraw Hill Professional.