Signs of an Ineffective Project Manager
No one who has ever been a project manager (PM) would claim it’s an easy job, especially considering everything PMs have to contend with. Still, some PMs do a fine job. But some, alas, fall short.
Blaming others when something goes wrong is one sign of an ineffective project manager. I recall a PM who, whenever problems arose, blamed everyone and everything—the project team, the customer, the operating system, the passwords he couldn’t remember, even the date of the full moon. He excelled at refusing to take responsibility for decisions he made and actions he took.
Fortunately, the behavior of that project manager is more the exception than the rule (and fortunately, he is no longer a project manager!). But another bad practice of some project managers is micromanaging. These PMs reluctantly dole out assignments, then hover and make sure the assignment is carried out exactly as they believe it should be.
Some PMs show little concern for project variances, escalating costs, slipping schedules, or other worrisome signs. By itself, none of these issues is necessarily a sign of poor project management. But an inability to anticipate problems, make contingency plans, or deal with project snafus suggests a PM in trouble and could be a predictor of a doomed project.
Some of these same PMs devote little effort to communicating with the project team or with customers or other stakeholders. A variation of this problem is establishing a communication plan but then not following it.
Being eager to please leads some PMs to provide overly ambitious timelines. These PMs understandably want to keep clients happy, but that happiness is destined to plummet as soon as deadlines start to slip. A variation of the eager-to-please theme is the PM who says yes to every request for a scope change, even when it will wreak havoc on a schedule. Not surprisingly, such PMs often don’t have a system in place for approving and tracking changes.
The worst project managers procrastinate, force their opinions on others, don’t follow up, and take sides when trying to resolve a conflict.
Of course, some project managers simply lack the knowledge and training or the range of experience to do what the job calls for. Some of these PMs have been thrown into the job. One day, they’re individual contributors; the next day they’re in charge of a project, unfamiliar with the challenge of managing both people and their work.
If you see any of these signs of a poor PM in yourself, all is not lost. Check out this website or this one for characteristics of effective project managers. They’ll give you something to aim for and aspire to.