When I first joined James M. Montgomery in 1976, there was a process where new project managers were indoctrinated into the company. It was not by a class or some literature, it was on-the-job training. You would be paired with a more experienced project manager, who acted as your trainer for six months to a year. Your role as a junior project participant was to assist on assignments, working with others as a team. In this three part series, I want to share with you the lessons that I learned from this training experience, which have served me well throughout my career. The first is “reading a client’s office.”
To learn this, you must repeatedly visit a client in their office. As I was in the midst of this training, the car ride generally served as preparation time and, later on, the return trip was a debrief. I was told not to say much during the visit, just observe. In the debriefing, I was grilled on what I saw and asked to think about what it meant in both developing a relationship and delivering the project.
The client’s office is a physical reflection of their value system, their points of pride, their interests and hobbies, their families, their accomplishments, their organizational idiosyncrasies and, in general, a window into who they truly are. Nothing could be more revealing if you would just pay attention, look and, later, interpret I was required to memorize everything: pictures, diplomas, trinkets, books, positioning of the chairs or tables, tidiness of paperwork, art or pictures, equipment (electronic or printers), phones and colors. All were there for a purpose and a reflection of the person you visited. I was also asked to keep a […]