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Happy National Hat Day!

I often wonder who has started these “national holidays,” but this one seems especially suited for project managers. As the most versatile position in a project team, the PM wears many hats in their daily routine—hats that are often contradicting. Switching between these hats seamlessly is one of the most important skills for a great PM. So today, in celebration of the many hats of a project manager, we answer the question: what are the changing chapeaus a PM must don?

The Leader and The Participant

As the main motivator of a project, any good PM knows the times a project team requires a cheerleader. In this energetic role, the Leader hat comes in handy in order to rally everyone around your central goal. However, a PM cannot separate themselves entirely from the project team. Once the motivation is boosted, a PM needs to quickly slip on their Participant hat. After all, you are all on the same team and need to work together!

The Salesperson and The Buyer

Internally, a PM serves as the project’s promoter, wearing the Salesperson hat. Painting a positive picture of the project’s efficiency and importance keeps anxious stakeholders calm. However, this is most easily achieved when they first put the Buyer hat on their heads: a good PM knows the project does not begin when the work does. Rather, the project begins once the commitment is made. Often the team’s decision maker—or buyer—a PM must shop projects for those that are realistic for their team to complete.

The Historian and The Forecaster

In a data-driven role, the PM must have eyes on past trends and outcomes of a team to better plan for them in the future. With the Historian hat on, the PM pays attention to the past projects but must change roles to that of the Forecaster quite suddenly. (Dare I say…at the drop of a hat?) In this sense, the Forecaster is the position on the team who, having seen the Historian’s data, can project how and when a project will be completed.

This switch can be done by the PM, but why not run both of these roles simultaneously? Software like LiquidPlanner helps run past trend research and projections of current projects simultaneously.

The Good Cop and The Bad Cop

Ah, the classic dilemma. With all of this switching between roles, a PM knows it is often best to enter a project with their Good Cop hat on. As the project mediator, it is important to be a positive resource for your team. But, what happens when things are just not getting done? PMs must use their judgment as to when the Bad Cop hat must come into play. Delivering work on time is serious; sometimes team members need reminding of this, so long as the Good Cop hat is on hand for the immediate switch when dealing with parts of the project that have remained on track.

The Listener and The Communicator

Maintaining transparency is one of the key facets of being a PM: donning the Listener hat and creating a safe space for team members to share candid project updates is essential to ensure you are actually aware of project status. Sometimes, though, transparency does not suit the larger audience. This is where the PM’s Communicator hat comes into play. Learning to spin the current status of tasks and deliverables is key for communicating with people outside of the project’s core.

The Laser Focus and The Big-Picture Thinker

Traditionally known as the person in a project concerned with every tiny detail, it serves a PM to have a Laser Focus hat handy. However, this hat reverses into the equally-used wide-lens view of the entire project…the Big-Picture Thinker hat. This final (and, arguably most important) hat is the underlying factor for the PM’s entire role. No one has to switch between the microscopic and lifespan view of a project as quickly as a PM does.

While you may recognize one (or more!) of the hats you don in your own role, today we celebrate our project managers. PMs, you manage to wear 12 opposing hats and make it look easy; for that, we thank you.

Happy Hat Day!

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