A Customer Experience Agency

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Herding cats: The life of a project manager

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Typically when you think of project managers, you think of someone responsible for making sure everyone does their part in some huge, time consuming, possibly life-altering initiative. The kind of mind-boggling project where budgets consist of numbers too large for me to comprehend and a mistake could cost more money and cause more safety issues than I’d like to be on the hook for.

That’s not the type of project manager I am. I work on a slightly smaller scale, managing Redonk projects and generally making sure everyone does what they’re supposed to do when they’re supposed to do it. But working in a smaller digital shop also brings its own set of unique challenges and opportunities.

We need to be scrappy and tenacious

Redonk is lean by choice, and that means one of the main differences between the PM role here and that in other fields — or even other agencies — is that PMs are both the account and project manager all in one. We are brought in at the first sign of a new client request and stay involved through the project launch. We serve as the main point of contact for the client and the internal team, which means we basically have to know everything that’s going on at all times.

We have to embrace our inner cat whisperer

Working with ego-centric creatives and awkward developers isn’t as bad as you’d think. (Just kidding, I’ve rarely seen those stereotypes play out in real life. Though I can’t deny the kernel of truth in this little gem.) In fact, working in a creative atmosphere is what I love most about my job at Redonk. It’s kind of like “those who can’t do, teach” only for me it’s “those who can’t do, help others do.”

Agencies are quick-moving, priority-changing, passion-driven environments where a project managers’ strengths (organization, prioritization, details and communication) balance with those of their creative and technology teams (designing and developing incredible work that makes our client’s and their customers happy). Establishing a close working relationship with your team and figuring out how to bring out each person’s strengths and work around their weaknesses (because we all have them) is one of the keys to being a strong project manager.

We must elevate the user experience…even our own

I once had an interview candidate ask me what it’s like to tell people to do things that you aren’t actually skilled in and are unable to do yourself. It was a great question and obviously stuck with me. The answer is simple. By providing value to your team, the process, and the agency as a whole, you ensure the discipline and role of project management thrives within the agency as opposed to becoming a “process for process’ sake” roadblock.

The more you know your team, your clients, and the projects you manage, the more you are able to anticipate the needs of those you work with and help them do their job better. And that makes the overall outcome that much better. When we get it right, project managers create a more seamless experience for our team, just as the agency strives to do for our clients’ customers.

Have your own PM tricks? Do tell. Tweet us @redonkmarketing #catwhisperer