Crossing Guards and Project Managers


The silent source of comfort to parents everywhere, the crossing guards are there to make sure our kids cross busy intersections safely. Yes, at first glance they seem to be unnecessary, almost joke worthy. Yellow slickers over layers of clothing to keep them warm, they look like Minions from Despicable Me. But here's what they're doing:

  • Looking in every direction at all times to identify disturbances
  • Proactively seeking potential interference with safety
  • Blowing that darn whistle to remind us the light has changed and to keep the momentum going
  • Showing up in rain, snow, sleet, hail, wind
  • Smile in response to our smile; looking quite focused when concentrating
  • Allowing us to concentrate on our children in the mass of children

Does this sound familiar? If you work in a department that creates something, chances are this description reminds you of your Project Manager. The Project Manager is, in my experience, the most misunderstood role in an office. They're referred to as that "Pain in The A**" or "Here she comes again. Groan." Or "What do they do all day anyway?"

A PM runs around a lot. She's rarely at her desk. This makes it hard to find her, which can create a perception of laziness or unavailability. The truth is far more impressive and perhaps even inspiring. Here's what Project Managers do:

  • Look in every direction at all times to identify disturbances
  • Proactively seek potential interference with the safety of the project
  • Blow that proverbial whistle to remind us to keep the momentum going
  • Show up regardless of the "weather" in the home or in the office
  • Smile in response to our smile; look quite focused when concentrating
  • Allow us to concentrate on our one piece of the whole

To clarify -- we're talking about the people in the background who keep things moving by juggling multiple elements. They may have a different title, but the role is the same. They may not say it, but their job is to care about us and ensure that we have what we need to get our job done. Our part in this is to respect their agenda and meet them halfway with updates, timely requests, and a smile.

It can't hurt to smile at the Crossing Guard either.

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