When Project Managers Become a Danger

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As Project Managers we are placed in positions of power and importance. We are in The Business of maintaining order and control, often in times of chaos. We are trusted to achieve the required outcomes in an honourable way within a strict code of conduct.

We are the White Knights brought in to fight the good fight, rescue those in anguish and grief and in due course deliver a successful project.

All actions we take reflect and are a direct effect of this. Or should be…………………

So when do Project Managers become a Danger to themselves, their team members, the project and their business?

My top Five (5) are:

  1. Spreading Pandemonium

Project Management is all about the process and following a defined and proven methodology. Right. Yes, in a perfect world! From time to time we will all face unrealistic expectations from a number of internal or external sources and our job as Project Managers is to navigate the team through the uncertainties and chaos to deliver the project with the best possible outcomes. The pressure felt by The PM must be controlled solely by The PM and cannot spread throughout The Team. Any half decent Project Manager has the ability to salvage something even in the most difficulty situation and bring the Project home, if handled correctly. But putting your pressures and burdens onto the team will guarantee chaos and disorder follows suite beyond the Project Team.

  1. Being a Drama Queen

It takes a special sort of person to succeed as a Project Manager and “stay in the game” long term. Due to the constant pressure associated with delivering unique, one off endeavours within a defined timeframe, often with difficult circumstances and conditions attached, it’s not for the faint hearted! A career PM should be calm, level headed and hold everything together through the ups and downs of the Project, whereas Drama Queen’s thrive on excitement and attention. The excitement can be negative or positive. Most of us long for a quiet, uneventful day in the office to catch up on paperwork, but for a Drama Queen when the project simply can’t deliver the stimulation needed, he or she starts rumours, gossip, traumas, dramatic declarations or proceeds with an emotional breakdown, in order to get the required gratification. A Drama Queen feels insecure unless all eyes are on them.   

  1. Project Going Too Well

When things are going too well early in a Project, in my opinion is the worst thing that could possibly happen! Absurd you may say…. However through experience I have come to learn and accept, when things go too well in the beginning The PM becomes lazy, begins to think they are invisible and forgets no Project ever goes to plan. Projects are Risky Endeavours no matter how modest or small they may seem and close attention needs to be paid to every aspect each and every day. By relaxing and becoming complacent too early simple but important and necessary planning and checking is forgotten or dismissed as not required. This is when issues fly under the radar and are missed, resulting in a Snowball effect.  

  1. Blowing Their Own Trumpet

A Project Manager must take a little less of the recognition and a lot more of the blame. Well at least they should! We have all worked with the Project Manager who spends the whole day on the phone, interrupts meetings and generally wastes everybody’s time telling every Tom, Dick and Harry about the 500 billion dollar project they delivered for The Secret Service or the time they built a space station in the Amazon Jungle. Whilst it is important to appropriately recognise achievements, the recognition should be directed to those responsible. The Project Manager whom feels the need to take credit for anything good that happens on the Project but then throws anyone who’s back is turned under the bus for anything that went wrong on The Project will sooner or later expose himself as the fraud he or she is and won’t survive long in the tough world of Project Management!

  1. Doing Too Much

Often the Project Manager whom has risen through the ranks and was a Tradesman, Computer Programmer or from an operational background feels the need to revert back to their profession. Regularly in difficult times and turbulence on a project, The Project Manager is on site Programming or installing rather than managing The Project and steering the ship through the storm. The Project Manager all too often forgets the time past and makes decisions or judgements based on old Technologies or how things were done back when Adam was a boy, rather than trusting and seeking the opinions or their Subject Matter Experts. The Project Manager whom is a perfectionist and has the attitude of “If you want something done properly do it yourself”, is equally as dangerous to themselves and The Project. No one Man or Woman can do everything!

Ray Turner

Principal – Ray Turner Consultants