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Project Manager : Project Manager April May 2012
34 Project Manager THE APPRENTICE (ABOVE) “Tagged as The Ultimate Job Interview”, The Apprentice is a reality show depicting a group of 15–18 professional men and women competing in an elimination-style competition for a one- year, $250,000 job of running one of real estate magnate Donald Trump's companies. UNDERCOVER BOSS (RIgHT) Undercover Boss is a reality TV series where a high-positioned executive or the owner of a corporation goes "undercover" as an entry- level employee in their own company. The boss spends time getting to know selected company employees, learning about their professional and personal challenges. manager to spend time w ith the entire team and/or the client. It is an important way to ensure you are getting the real information about the culture surrounding your project.” The Apprentice, on the other hand, is “the opposite of an exercise in team- building”, according to Emmerson. “The Apprentice is the antithesis of a collaborative working environment. When you’re working under considerable pressure to deliver a project around time, cost and quality imperatives, there’s little tolerance for self-serving sycophantic behaviour,” she says. As well as rewarding humble, hardworking staff and raising questions of workplace morality, Emerson believes an “undercover boss” presents like a great project manager: they have a financial imperative to improve profits and customer service, boost team morale and maintain high safety standards. Conversely, she says The Apprentice is all about self-promotion. “The Apprentice approach is a ll about making yourself look good as opposed to being genuinely concerned with the required outcome and that’s not what you want in the workplace,” she says. “Project management is not about winning a popularity contest or coming to the end of a project looking all shiny ... it’s about having a team- oriented focus and about working with the user group to find a solution that will satisfy everyone’s needs.” Adam Russell is Director at Decade Nine. He has spent the past 30 years solving complex solution delivery options in online, Telco and other vertical application areas. As well as being train-wreck TV, he says The Apprentice highlights the very worst of toxic workplace cultures and attempts by employees to win the boss’s favour by one-upmanship. Lessons for project managers He agrees the format of Undercover Boss should be used as a template for best practice. “ The most important thing a project manager must do is listen to the staff and find out what is going on,” Russell says. He goes on to say an effective project manager must morph into an undercover boss of sorts in order to weed out any noxious behaviour. “ You have to take that Undercover Boss approach in order to dig in and find out what’s really going on and make sure everybody is on board for the journey. You have to build morale because if you haven’t got the team working together effectively, you have nothing,” he says. geTTy
Project Manager Feb March 2012
Project Manager June July 2012