Over at his blog, Carson Pierce recently wrote about increasing the perceived value of project managers. As he says, “if a project goes smoothly, everyone shares the credit. If it goes off the rails, it was probably all your fault.”
“Project management is like air quality. If you can see it, it’s probably killing you.”
I once had a conversation with my boss at the time following a meeting she’d attended. She’d been told to show up and provide a quick informal update on the progress of some projects, which she did. The leaders of other teams, though, had arrived with carefully crafted PowerPoint decks explaining why they were awesome and the saviours of our business unit.
My boss felt the value of our team’s work wasn’t being recognized, and worse, was being further diminished because she hadn’t had an opportunity to present it on a level footing.
My advice was to recognize that regardless of our job description, we all work in sales.
I work in banking, but I don’t sell mortgages or credit cards like some of my colleagues do. I sell a framework and set of methodologies for successful project delivery, and the customers I sell to are internal. I know that the framework is a successful one, so I can craft just as compelling a value proposition as anybody who’s talking about how a low APR and no annual fees will help you achieve your dreams.
Essentially, I sell the value of me.
I don’t work in the freelance world or even for a contracting company: my next project will arrive because somebody will simply hand it to me, along with my next paycheque and the several after that.
My customers are not hypothetical, though, and nor is the need to sell to them, or the effort sometimes required to make that sale.
This applies to your job too, whatever it may be, but it’s especially true if you work in a field like mine which, as Carson notes, can often be a thankless one.