Who *exactly* is following your PM system?

Implementing a new Project Management can be tricky, especially when dealing with a lot of different personalities.

When you are implementing a new project management system in your company, you are bound to deal with a lot of different personalities. Not only that, but each character is guaranteed to react differently. And dealing with different personality traits can be a struggle and a challenge during change. However, if you make an effort to try to understand them, you’ll have an easier time making sure all those different personalities follow your PM system.

When I tried to implement a PM system…

A couple of months ago, I was assigned to create and implement a project management system for our team. And while the creation itself was quick and smooth, the implementation part revealed to be a little bit challenging. From the moment I began the process, I was faced with a lot of obstacles and questions from my peers, which at the time seemed a little irrelevant.

The system makes sense for me, so why doesn’t everyone else get it?

Clearly I was not only very naive but I had just completely missed the point of the assignment.

Of course, if this were a perfect world, everyone would simply follow my system exactly right without raising any questions or problems. But that’s just not how the real world works, and looking back, it was a little bit delusional of my part to think anything like that would happen. What I should have understood at the time is that a PM system only serves as the foundation. A PM system has to be adapted to all the different individuals involved to make the project and the whole company work smoothly. I should have been more respectful and take into consideration how other people around me work.

To make everyone coexist under one system, you need to adapt according to the type of people involved with and create a flexible enough system that can work for everybody.

Since then, I’ve come to learn about people’s traits, the very distinct ways they work, and how I can adjust accordingly. Today I’m going to talk about a couple of different types of personalities I’ve encountered when implementing a project management system in the company I work for. This post is not about analyzing all personality types that exist out there. And I hope this will help you understand how you can implement your pm system more efficiently, so that your team will collaborate harmoniously and thrive individually.

#1 The Disorganized

To this day it still boggles my mind that there are people out there in this world that don’t have any system for organization… Like at all, not even a simple to-do list! At work, most of these people simply do the tasks as they are asked for, and forgetting about any previous work. But the fascinating part is that, every single person I’ve encountered that works like this, honestly believe their “system” works just fine. I don’t understand it and to be honest, just thinking about it gives me anxiety. So needless to say that if you encounter someone like this, introducing a whole pm system can be challenging. What I propose here is to strip down your system to its most basic form — probably just a simple to-do list — and introduce that first. Once they figure out the basic, keep adding little by little new features for the person to work with (calendar, time tracking…). You may have to help them managing their tasks at the beginning to show how the system works. This is not you doing their job; it’s you showing the system and all its benefits, and how, in the end, it can massively improve their workflow.

#2 The Already Organized

So on the other side of the spectrum, you now have that person that already has their very own system that works well for them — and just them. Although this may sound great, these types of people can quickly turn out to be the most challenging to deal with — and I know this because I would insert myself in this category! Since they already have a system of their own, they may not be very keen on trying a whole new different system that it’s not crafted by them. I would say, in this situation, you should open a discussion. Present your system, go through easy step, argument your reasonings and later ask for their feedback. The reality is that, because of their own experience, their input can be precious, and it can even help you craft a better pm system. And in the end, involving those types of people in the process can be your best tool to convert them into the system.

#3 The Forgetful

These are the people that keep forgetting everything from about to update their tasks to even how the system works. Might just be part of their personality or they simply aren’t taking the system very seriously — or both. Either way, it can be a little frustrating. And I hate to say it, but the best approach here is to “friendly remind” them or just annoy them until they get it. Everyone that has studied Marketing at some point knows that repetition can do wonders for our human brains. Repetition is the key, so just keep reminding them to follow the system. I know this can be a tedious process and can even feel a little uncomfortable from your side. But gently reminders never hurt anybody.

#4 The Dramatic

Now, it doesn’t matter how big or small your office is, we all know who the “failed drama student” is. You know the type of person, that one that is always rushing to get something done while continuously complaining about it. They have a rather intense temperament and lower patience threshold, which can be difficult to manage especially when trying to convert them to a whole new pm system. I guarantee that the first complaints about the new system will come from this person, either directly or indirectly. And I do suggest tackling these individuals first since they can easily influence the rest of the group.

The best way to approach these people is to show them you are open to listening to what they have to say. And I do mean listen. This is not the time for you to talk every chance you have with them about how great your system is. Listen to what they say, and try to provide constructive suggestions to their specific complaints.

#5 The Agonized

This is the person that doesn’t understand the project management system at all. They probably tried, but it’s just confusing and overwhelming for them. The good news is that these people are usually willing to learn, but patience is necessary to approach them successfully. The goal is to try to understand exactly what they don’t understand about the system and explain to them in detail. Take time to explain to them how everything works, go over everything in great detail, and don’t be afraid to get repetitive. And in the long run, make regular checks to see how they are doing and if they need any assistance.

#6 The Needy

Well, simply put it, needy people need constant attention, which a lot of times can come out as whiney and bothersome. They are continually turning their faces to others for help, and following a new project management system is no different. They will always ask you questions on how to proceed, never asking why. This is where the differentiation from the Agonized is. When you take time to explain to the Agonized, they are willing to hear and learn; the Needy doesn’t want to understand the system, they just want the steps laid out for them. You’ll spend hours explaining how your system works for them to ask then “So what do I need to do?”. The best advice I can give is to adapt their system in a way that looks like a repetitive daily checklist (repetitive tasks will save your life here).



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Filipa Amado

Designer that likes to write about Product Management and Productivity.