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​5 Tips to be an Indispensable PM

While working with agile teams - do you constantly fear that your team will soon become a self driven team and will no longer need you?

Is it always your worry that your agile team will stop giving you the importance of a PM?

Fear not....... 

Here are 5 simple but highly effective tips that are guaranteed to make you an indispensable PM on your project. 

Tip 1: Be the decision maker

As a PM, be the decision maker. Make decisions left, right & centre. Whether it is on ramp-up or roll-offs, release plans or deadlines, you should be the one deciding. Don't even think of consulting your team before making decisions. The more you consult, the more it becomes a collaborative exercise. The more collaborative you become the more redundant you start getting. Remember making decisions on your own, will make the team dependent on you.

Tip 2: Talk to the key stakeholders

Always talk to key stakeholders, but remember to do it alone as much as possible. If you include your team members, they will start owning these discussions and your dependency will start reducing. Don't ever allow that to happen. The stakeholders needs to look at you as the crucial person on the team and hence the indispensable one.

Tip 3: Communicate

Communication is essential but not everything needs to be communicated all the time. Remember the more you expose your cards, the more easy it is for the team to take over. Never give all information out at once. Show your importance and keep passing information only at critical times. You can always pretend to be shielding the team from unnecessary noise. The more information you hold, the more you are needed on the team.

Tip 4: Use Tools

Keep stressing the need for using virtual tools as compared to physical walls.  Keep pointing out how difficult it is to maintain both physical and virtual walls. Especially if you have distributed teams, more the reason for having a common source of truth & hence a virtual wall. This reduces the visibility that the team normally gets from visual clues. Then it is up to you to highlight all the risks and foreseeing the challenges the team might face. You automatically start becoming more and more important on the team.

Tip 5: Customer is the King

Finally, believe in the age old principle - “Customer is King”. Agree to everything that customer says, no matter how unreasonable it is. Never push back the customer. Never check with the team before committing to the customer. Go ahead and commit to deadlines and other plans as asked by the customer. Make the customer Happy.

Once you take all these measures, the team will be under constant pressure. The team will have no time at hand to think beyond day to day tasks. They will not be able to spare time to think about big picture or other corrective measures. Everyone will be dependent only on you. As time passes you will start getting more and more control of the project.

PS: Incase the subtlety is not obvious, this is a sarcastic take on being a PM on agile teams. These are anti-patterns to to be aware about. PMs and teams should work towards being self sufficient and one of the success criteria for a PM is to make himself/herself redundant as early as possible.

Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.

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