Share Your Toys! How to Help PMs See the Big Picture

Share Your Toys! How to Help PMs See the Big Picture

How willing were you to share your toys when you were a kid?

And what does that have to do with building construction projects?

Read on and find out.

Yesterday, my 15-year-old son, Tim, asked if he could buy a baseball bat.

Really his question was whether I could buy the baseball bat.

As you can imagine, it is the “latest and greatest” and not cheap at $350.

So we started negotiating.

We ended up meeting in the middle.

He pays half, and I pay half as an early birthday present.

His 16-year-old brother overheard our conversation and immediately piped in, “Hey, Tim, are you going to share your baseball bat with me?”

I could tell by Tim’s face that he wasn’t exactly super excited about that.

As the leader of your construction company, you more than likely have project managers (PMs) reporting to you or to a project executive (PX) who reports to you.

The PMs are responsible for bringing their projects in on time and at or under budget. The best ones are very motivated by these goals and strive to achieve them on every project.

And yet, they’re very often put in a situation where they have to share their resources with other PMs because of the organization’s priorities.

Your job, and the job of your PXs, is to help your PMs take off their project manager hat, put on their company hat, understand the logic behind sharing resources and willingly sacrifice for the company’s benefit.

How do you do that?

First, you create an open line of communication with your project managers. Tell them that if they have any challenges on their project, they can freely communicate up the chain of command.

Then, give them the big picture. Be frank about the priority of their project and how their resources will be deployed to other projects. It’s not all about their project success. It’s about how the company executes overall.

Finally, instruct them on how, when, and with whom they should communicate if they have an issue.

I’ll give you a specific example. I was chatting with a project manager; he’s an up-and-comer whom I coach one-on-one. He had this very issue on one of his projects.

His first thought was, “I need to call a meeting with the company owner, the operations director, the superintendent, and the project manager on the other project that my resources are shared with.”

“Is it necessary at this point to call an almost company-wide meeting on this issue?” I asked.

He’s an intelligent guy, and after thinking about it, he concluded that he first needed to chat with the General Superintendent and share his concerns.

He decided he didn’t need to go “full meeting” out of the gate because the company owner and the operations manager could consider it a waste of their time.

If he can have that conversation with the General Superintendent and process through sharing his resources, that can help him have the proper perspective and accept that some stuff is out of his control.

It also helped that he realizes that he isn’t being judged solely on his project’s profitability but on how he interacts with other people in the organization.

In conclusion, to help PMs be ok with sharing resources, create open communication lines with your PMs, give them that big picture, and show them how, when and with whom to communicate their issues.

Back to my sons and the baseball bat. Would Tim be willing to share with his brother? He was initially reluctant, but after a beat or two, he smiled and said, “sure, you can use my bat.”

The only question I have is, will this new bat, which is supposed to be totally awesome, help them get more hits next season? Only time will tell.

Do you have up and coming leaders, like the PM mentioned above, who have a ton of talent but need some help in reaching their full potential? They may benefit from having an outside executive coach who has almost two decades of experience working with construction executives. If you want to chat further, and learn more about the coaching I provide, reach out to me here: