For the last several months I’ve been attempting to rectify what I’ve been told about being a PM and the reality of being a PM. My expectations for daily work has really butted heads with what I actually do. While I’ve become overwhelmed with anxiety because of this, I haven’t been able to pin down the exact issue until I a few nights ago.

Several nights ago, I got off work, took a few minutes, then attempted to make dinner. I was planning on making some unhealthy abomination I saw on one of those “look how I made this” videos that get shared on FaceBook. (Bacon, chicken, cheese, and broccoli in a “loaf”). As the mess of raw ingredients started to smear the counter and I saw the trash needed to go out and dished needed to be done and the floor needed to be mopped and the chestnuts we roasted were molding and… You get the point.

I had a panic attack. It was small, but still there.

The Fiance walked me through what was going on and she came to an interesting conclusion. I have a conflicting value system.

Personality and Character Ethics

In addition to my Fiance’s observations, I’ve also started reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective PeopleIn the first several sections, Dr. Covey explains the differences in the process of self-help and success over the last century and a half.

Summing up the sections, character ethics (those who hold ideal qualities lead ideal lives) was a more perpetuated thought process during Ben Franklin’s time. In the more recent 20th century, personality ethics (those who convince themselves and others of ideals will obtain what they want) became superficially popularized as a means to an ends.

…what we are communicates far more eloquently than anything we say or do. (p.22)

In many instances our values can guide our actions and our rhetoric. Specifically, this all relates to problem solving and problem identification. Both often get confused for one another.

Here’s a recent example at LexBlog. In the last few months, we’ve been looking to take blog launches out of our Support Team and have myself launch every blog, portal, and Twenty. The perceived problem was that Support took an “all hands on deck” approach to launching blogs. This meant that a client could be coordinating with 5-10 people who were all working on the blog at any given time. This resulted in time delays, mismatched results, and wasted time (as each person would have to review the entirety of the changes since the last time they worked on it).

Some blogs took years to launch.

However, as I’ve explored the various “issues” with the blog launch process, I’ve noticed a distinct trend. The problems have always been addressed as problems for their own sake i.e. speed is good, we’re slow, therefore we need to get faster.

In reality, we needed to define a goal first then determine if/how we fail to meet that goal. In the case of time, we could have a goal of “Each client feels motivated to launch their blog”. If we are stalling out on a blog launch and a client is feeling less motivated because the launch takes too long, then we have a defined problem. We don’t need to superficially convince others that launching a blog quickly is a good thing. Instead we needed to believe motivation is an ideal quality and hold that for ourselves.

In other words, our goals are driven by our ideals. If we’ve built those goals (or ignored them), then we are only superficially addressing the problems we face. At that point, it doesn’t matter who launches blogs.

The Conflict

Last month I wrote Lean on You Team. The post was more targeted around several particular instances where I attempted to go outside of my skillset or timeframe to get something done. Consequently, I had unwittingly hurt my teammates and provided an inadequate level of care to a particular client.

That bothered me.

So, I had to reevaluate my core values. For me, I know I need to feel useful, helpful. I need to know I’m worth something to someone. I also have to show that worth to myself and others. I come from a long line of “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” type of people. That mentality has taught me the value of learning-how-to-learn.

Conversely, I want to be on a team. I want everyone on that team to do their part and value each other’s efforts.

It’s hard for me to ask or accept help. It conflicts with my value of self-worth. It’s also hard for me to take on all the work and expect to get a solid product 100% of the time. I get overwhelmed and feel unappreciated. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

However, I’m making a great effort to stop and accept help or ask when I need it. This will be hard, but there’s no living in a silo.

Next Steps and Conclusion

Last week I was handed a sheet that had a column for “problems” and a column for “solutions”. I was asked to fill it out with everything I was seeing in launches.

I took a step back.

I couldn’t fill out the sheet without defining our goals first. Remember, a problem is only a problem because it’s failing to meet expectations which in turn are defined by our goals.

Now, we’re looking to change the blog launch process again, but will a list of goals in mind. Now that I’ve fully launched several blogs and portals, I feel as though I know the process enough to suggest what I hope to be a very fluid approach. This new process would focus both on individual responsibility, but would also allow a great deal of teamwork.

Each person in Support would own a blog launch. The blog launch process would have a “recipe for success”, but the whole team would be there to help one another for uncommon issues. I’m looking forward to testing it out.

I hope you found something to add to your everyday rhetoric repertoire. Know that each of us hold conflicting values and that’s okay. How you address the problems that arise from these conflicts will determine how effective you are at obtaining your goals. So take some time and really ask yourself “what values do I have that conflict with one another?”.

You might just learn something about yourself.

As always, thank you for reading.

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