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Managing In A Difficult Environment

A New Manager

Recently I was working under a new manager that had a unique style of managing. This was an individual that was new to the department and the type of projects we are assigned to manage. Needless to say, I was not a favorite of the new manager and soon I found myself working against the tide to remain focused and productive. This was a challenge that was new to me. It was not like I had failed in some capacity and had warranted this behavior. I just did not “do it” for this manager. I am sure this has happened to other managers who just do not “click” with new management through no fault of their own. This situation can cause stress and make it more difficult to be successful. It happens. However, if this situation is not handled correctly it can lead to a loss of productivity, a damaged reputation or worse.

What do you do?

Working under a difficult environment will test your Project Management skills. It will also help you to grow as a professional and a person if you embrace the challenge. This is the key – embrace the challenge. I embraced the challenge by first not responding emotionally. Our emotions and passions as a project manager can serve as an asset or detriment. It is our passions and emotions we use to inspire ourselves, others and drive a project to success. However, those same emotions and passions can lead us to making poor decisions that can adversely affect our projects, key relationships and our career. Secondly, assess your situation by understanding the needs and wants of your key stakeholders particularly the ones who are more vocal and influential. For me, this individual was my new manager. I had to build a rapport with my new manager and become flexible to understand and apply enough of that individual’s style of managing. I was once told during the early part of my career that managers want you to manage like they manage. This is true to an extent. The point here is I had to learn the style of management that would satisfy my manager while not losing my own identity as a project manager. This requires:

  • Understanding expectations
  • Constant open communication
  • Effort
  • Gathering feedback
  • Humility along with the willingness to try new things.

In conclusion, I was able to survive and thrive and the manager eventually moved on to a new role. Though I hope it will be a long time before I experience that challenge again, I am grateful for the lessons learned and another step toward this continuous journey to maturing as a project manager.