Project ManagementRisk Management

8 Things All Bad Project Managers Have in Common

Not every project manager is an ace. If that were the case, projects would almost never fail, and we would be living in a business utopia. Instead, we deal with the reality that there are a lot of project managers out there who do not really know what they are doing. In a post at the Project Risk Coach, Harry Hall pinpoints eight things that always seem to happen with unskilled or unenlightened project managers:

  1. Too many meetings
  2. Too much documentation
  3. Lack of trust
  4. Focus on self-promotion
  5. Poor listener
  6. Poor delegation skills
  7. Weak facilitation skills
  8. Failure to deal with problem team members

Sour Cream of the Crop

A bad manager sees no problem with recurring meetings on trivial subjects, or holding long meetings to solve undefined problems. A better manager would always ask him or herself if there is a faster and less intrusive way to collect or disseminate important information. Another area where things bloat is with documentation. Specificity is good, but if it results in documents nobody reads, then they might as well have never been written at all.

Bad managers might be difficult to trust strictly because they have given no though to the matter. Building trust requires that a person has good motives and delivers on promises. No trust will ever be gained when dealing with agonizing managers who always promote themselves on a pedestal while barely whispering about the teams supporting them. Instead, managers must praise team members for their good work and broadcast their successes.

Lastly, bad managers just suffer from a range of communication problems. They do not make an effort to really listen to people. They do not know how to articulate what is needed out of meetings, and they do not make the effort to include everyone’s voices in the conversation. They have a hard time either delegating work or delegating such that team members actually understand the tasks they are receiving. They even have difficulty dealing with other bad employees. Here is how Hall recommends improving communications with a team member who is not performing up to expectations:

Coach your team members one-on-one when you start having issues and clarify your expectations. Ask for a commitment from the individual to notify you as early as possible if anything starts to hinder their ability to complete the assigned tasks. If you are unable to get the desired responses over time, talk to your project sponsor and possibly human resources — depending on your company — about steps to replace the individual.

Often, bad performance is a result of ignorance. It only becomes really damning when a person develops self-awareness of problems and still makes no effort to improve. For more insights, you can view the original post here:

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