As a mom and a project manager, I often get asked how I do it all. I always try to be honest and say - I don't. Some things need to be prioritized over others. For example, I was working on this blog and my three-year-old dumped his cheerios all over my office. Ideal, no. World ending, also no. Though I wanted to keep typing, his health and safety had to shift to the top of my priority list.
Being a parent is a huge transformation and has many parallels to digital transformation. Especially with the new normal of post-covid life, the increase in remote work, and the rising cost/shortage of child care. The responsibilities of parents have blurred the lines between work and home boundaries.
Being a parent is no longer about raising children and taking care of the home. It’s also about being a breadwinner, managing a household, and providing emotional support. In short, it’s about doing it all.
In being involved in digital transformation projects, I see so many parallels between parenthood and digital transformations. Project managers and project teams need to be flexible, resilient, good listeners, effectively prioritize, address conflict, and manage resistance - just like moms.
We are natural project managers who have been dealing with the challenges and balancing long before the age of digital transformation. Here are five reasons I believe moms make the best project managers:
On my way out the door in the mornings, I have food for the kids in the car, backpacks, lunches, homework, and coffee (if I am lucky). I am also thinking ahead to after-school activities, dinner, and bedtime routines. And that is all before I even get to my desk at work. Moms know how to juggle multiple tasks and prioritize what is most important.
There’s no denying that moms are natural multitaskers. From managing a household to taking care of children, moms have to juggle many different tasks at once. This same skill can be applied to project management. When you’re managing a project, you often have to juggle different tasks and priorities, especially in a digital transformation.
From project plans to status reports, to managing team members, there are a lot of moving parts in a project.
Parents have to be good at time management because they have to do it all. There is really little choice involved. We have to ensure the children are cared for, the house doesn't burn down, and the family has food on the table. They have to manage their time well to get everything done.
This same skill can be applied to project management. When you’re managing a project, you have to be able to juggle different tasks and priorities. Moms are used to managing their time well and can easily apply this skill to project
Moms are also good at prioritizing. With so many different things going on, they have to be able to prioritize what is most important. If you're a type A parent like me, toys all over the floor make you crazy. But, I have to remind myself that cleaning them up is not the most important thing in the middle of my work day. I can build a plan to address this need later, but I need to prioritize getting my work done.
This same approach is a basic project management skill. When you’re managing a project, there are often many different tasks and conflicting priorities. You need to understand, organize, and communicate the approach to address these moving parts. Just because something is a need, doesn't necessarily mean that it needs to be addressed immediately.
With so many different people to communicate with (children, spouses, grandparents, teachers, etc.), parents have to be able to communicate effectively. Even teaching a young person to communicate is a critical aspect of parenting.
Earlier this week, my husband and I both drove to my daughter's school to pick her up. We saw each other in the parking lot and had to laugh. Because we didn't effectively communicate with one another, we were not efficient and ended up doubling up on efforts.
This same skill can be applied to project management. When you’re managing a project, you have to be able to communicate effectively with different team members, stakeholders, and clients. Any miscommunication can lead to confusion and disruption within the project. Furthermore, it can lead to resistance and missed responsibilities. Per my example above, if neither one of us went to pick up my daughter, we would've failed on a core family responsibility.
So, yesterday my two-year-old took a toy from my three-year-old, and suddenly I was a referee in a full-on WWE wrestling match. After I separated them, we were able to address the conflict through some reluctant "I'm sorrys", hug it out, and come up with a plan on how we were going to share. With so many different people in the family, there is bound to be conflict. Parents have to be able to manage conflict effectively.
This same skill can be applied to project management. When you’re managing a project, you often have to deal with different differing opinions, conflicting agendas, and big personalities. Moms are used to managing conflict and can easily apply this skill to project management.
Moms are also agile. With so many different moving parts, they have to be able to adjust quickly. With kids, parents and caregivers must be able to pivot. For example, a sick kid can send your schedule spinning and deadlines missed.
Digital transformation projects are the same way. With so many moving parts, they require agility to be successful. An urgent matter may surface that needs immediate attention and priorities will need to shift. Adjusting to change is a fundamental skill for project management.
In conclusion, these are five reasons why moms make the best project managers. Moms have a lot of experience managing their time, tasks, and priorities. They are also good at communication, conflict management, and agile. If you're looking for a project manager, look no further than your nearest mother!
If you'd like to discuss project management or motherhood, please feel to reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to hear your thoughts/feedback.
I'd also highly recommend downloading the 2023 Digital Transformation Report which is packed full of industry insights and best practices.