Top ten signs you might not be a project manager

Congratulations! You finally received that much-coveted title of Project Manager — a position you really wanted and dutifully placed on your career planning job appraisal every year. Well I may have a surprise for you. Not everyone who is titled a project manager is a project manager, just as there are professionals acting as project managers without the title.

How could this happen?

Reasons for the disconnect vary with Individuals and organizations. In the later instance, you may have a qualified developer who does not want to be a project manager because he or she is on a technical tract and fears being pigeon holed into management and kept away from technical growth and interesting problems. However, they are willing to do typical project management tasks when asked.

In the first group though are individuals with the title project manager but unfortunately

  1. Believe that management is only about numbers — how much, how many, how quickly and at what cost per item
  2. Believe that management is management, whether it is running a baseball team or developing software
  3. Think that PMBOK may be a type of bird
  4. Do not notice that no one actually reports to them
  5. Are kept away from customers and client meetings
  6. Think “risk” is a board game
  7. Consider product requirements to be large documents primarily useful as a paperweight
  8. Prefer spending time in a large, windowed office sitting behind a clean desk with a tasteful credenza that is covered with sports trophies from high school
  9. Never work nights, weekends or carry home a full briefcase
  10. Believe that Dilbert is a fairytale about a whiny employee and the Pointed Haired Boss is tragically misunderstood

If you find yourself agreeing with any of these top ten, perhaps it is time for a career change — I am sure you would do well as a car salesman.

3 Responses to “Top ten signs you might not be a project manager”

  1. Michelle Symonds (@DittoUK) Says:

    Thanks for that post Bruce – it made me smile – but, sadly, in practise there are plenty of project managers ill-suited to the role. I think this often stems from the “project manager by chance” syndrome. A project is coming up – you know a lot about the product/process, the company don’t want to hire a professional project manager so pretty soon you find yourself with the title, the job and the responsibility but no training. So you learn on the job – not a wholly bad experience – you won’t repeat the mistakes you make on that first project – but from a success point of view the company would have been better off employing an experienced project manager or getting you some training so that you can take a professional career path to PM.

  2. Sanjiv Says:

    Thats so true Bruce…. I have worked with ‘Managers’ as well as team members who have been PMP certified or even got their MBA’s from recognized university, however, found them to have a restricted view or limited appreciation for the PM’s role and responsibilities. In my view the PM’s role is all encompassing and anything and everything that can affect his project, needs to be managed by the Project Manager. Yes, you rightly said that management is required not only for technology projects but even for our mundane routine tasks. Most of us do it – albeit subconciously, however fail to appreciate its importance when it comes to managing ‘real’ projects and are trapped in our own world view of Project Management.

  3. Otto Emanuelsson (@ottoema) Says:

    I agree to most of the points, except maybe number 9 “Never work nights, weekends or carry home a full briefcase”.

    I have been fortunate with good managers who have made it clear that I’m expected to be efficiently enough to fullfill my duties at work within 40h per week. If the project(s) I’m assigned to requires me to work overtime over a period of time, I have a work load which is too high. Working nights, weekends and bringing home work is not a sign of “business as usual”, rather the opposite.

    But of course, there are always situations you can’t predict which requires working extra hours. But efficient project managers and co-workers is for me equal to getting your work done without working nights and weekends. Otherwise, it would be impossible for me as a PM to work with estimates.


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