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The Good, The Bad, The Ugly- Project Manager

Working in IT industry as a Project Manager, I do come across my team members praising or complaining about Project Managers as how they have made their easy or hell in the project. Well mostly out of these are the ones who rather complain and seldom do I hear praises for the Project Managers. So is it really that grave of a situation and we can assume that all Project Managers are disciple of Hitler?

 

Well not so, I think there are 3 categories of PM – Good, Bad and Ugly. They as the name confers may not be like that in reality and it is the perception of the team members against the Project Manager. I know you must be getting confused here, so let’s evaluate each of these characteristics:

 

1. Good Project Manager – This is one, whom we will associate from the eyes of team members as the one who plans well, approves leaves of teams, takes pain to deliver projects, helpful and sensitive. These characteristics may be helpful in terms of employee satisfaction but they may not be in the eyes of Employer as for them you are too friendly with team and this friendliness removes the fear factor amongst them. With this token- Is Good project manager indeed a bad one, not with the above example. A good project manager is indeed a person who is friendly with the team but not too friendly such that people fear him not and start believing in laissez-faire. A good PM does exemplary work, motivates team/spirit, mitigates risks and issues, meets client expectation and other things that keep project status in Green but what he also does is take corrective actions if things are going haywire, manage people and see their timings in office, have a way to escalate and report if any team member is under-performing or is not adhering to company policies. With doing this what team members have always at the back of their mind is that there is a PM who can heed to their problems/issues at hand but he is also there with a Vulcan eyes who can catch them if they are wrong footed.

 

2. Bad Project Manager – Now this is the biggest drainer in an organization and this is what one should be careful about. A Bad PM is the one who has limited functional/technical knowledge and even then manages a team of IT developers. This PM will never be able to comprehend the daily nuances of a software development company. Since he lacks this he will also not be able to identify beforehand the risks and plan to mitigate them. He also will be helpless in tackling with the issues when they crop in the project and will run from pillar to post for resolving them, in doing so he will consume lot of resources precious time and this will again affect the project timelines which is already struggling with delay due to existing issue. This PM is definitely not liked by the resources as he will have characteristics of micro-managing team, finding faults, scapegoating, building artificial pressure, non-cognitive thinking. These bad PM do what the saying says that one dirty fish can contaminate a pond. So would these PM be shunned right away, well not hastily, everyone should be provided an opportunity to improve. I have seen that most of the time Bad managers also have some reasons to become bad such as they are not in the righteous place/position/team, they lack training, they are master less i.e., lack checks and balances, are hideous where they tend to hide their incapability by means of being harsh and rude. So I will say that these people if they tend to improve can go on the path to become a Good PM if not then dismissal is an option.

 

3. Ugly Project Manager – Now this is a PM who has a tendency of becoming a bête noire of his subordinates. This PM becomes ugly following his actions that make a dreadful predator who is always on the lookout. This PM believes in reprimanding and does follow a regimen of fear tactics. This he does in order to make the team deliver to their full potential without mistake and many a times they even succeed. They may not be helpful always and before some team member approaches them for help they make sure that they have tried it twice or thrice as if not they can face the fury. These PM give orders which can be like a decree for the team members and they tend to follow it religiously. So this PM may be ugly for the team but for the organization he proves to be helpful as his team is the least problem creator. So then if that’s the case can we say that Ugly PM is indeed the best PM, well not so, see when you are Ugly/fearsome PM then team don’t tend to question your judgments or decisions which sometime becomes detrimental to the project as a unanimous decision is the best decision. With the constant fear in which the team works there are high chances that there will be quite of higher rate of exits from the team as all members may not be accustomed to this kind of management. Moreover since this PM is dreaded, they tend to make very less friends in the organization hence when they need any kind of help there will always be few givers.

 

So to encapsulate I would say that a PM should have a mix of Good and Ugly PM traits in them. This good-ugly mix can prove to be beneficial for everyone- the team, the project and the organization. The key is the PM should know about his trait periodically and this could be done by peer review and 360 degree evaluation.

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