A reader writes:
I think my team hates me. I feel like I'm doing everything I'm supposed to be doing as a PM but they make it seem like I'm bothering them anytime I try to do my job. I try to be personable and I think I'm likable but it doesn't seem to be doing me any good. I'm freaked out because if I don't start doing well, I feel like I could get fired - this place has fired people in my role before. How do I get my team to like me so I can do my job??
First off, can I just say that I find this one of the hardest parts of project management? For me, personally. I feel like I have to be liked in order to be effective. So this kind of "MY TEAM HATES ME" issue is one of my biggest obstacles to doing well. Okay, now that you know that I not only commiserate with you, but that I *am* you, let's get to the "answer".
Your team doesn't have to like you. I'll say it again because it was hard for me to say the first time: your team doesn't have to like you. What they have to do is their job, which is to give you the information you need to do your job. This is going to be hard for you if you're someone who wants to be liked, but you have to talk directly and clearly to the people on the team if they are preventing you from doing your work. "Draco, I get the feeling you are annoyed when I ask you about timing. I have to ask you because it's part of my job to make sure I understand the timeline. I know we both have a common goal of getting this project done well, so while I can understand that it's frustrating to have to stop and give me info, I am hoping you can understand my position. Also, I have candy." (I always have candy. Candy makes friends, and candy always softens the blow. Are you remote? You can send candy.)
I think that once you realize that the team doesn't have to like you, you might find it easier and less stressful to be more direct in asking for stuff you need. Like, your attitude toward asking, and your attitude toward their reactions, may change for the better - you will not let it affect you so much. It's really easy to say, and hard to do - I understand that. This might be one of the times that you have to give yourself a stern talking-to.
Don't worry, there are plenty of other people who do like you. And I bet people on the team like you already, they just hate having to do stuff that you ask them to do. Either way, though, do not let your team's attitude stop you from doing your job. After all, having people like you is not nearly as important as paying bills, so you need to put yourself and your paycheck first.
Now, the answer changes if you are being really pushy or demanding or asking for things too frequently, because those are things you could change and have a better outcome. While you're being direct with your team, you could also ask them "Is there anything I'm doing that's making this harder for you, or is there something I could do to make it easier? Something that's not 'don't ask me' preferably." Take that feedback (and take it with a grain of salt - use your own judgment as to whether or not the feedback is actionable) and you may find it easier to change your approach and get the info you need.
Between those two strategies, you should be feeling better about things soon. Good luck!