Project Management

5 Reasons Why Your Project Manager Has No People Skills

Having a manager of people without good people skills is like having an apple pie without apples. It shouldn’t be so hard to find someone who has high emotional intelligence and communication skills, but sometimes you’re stuck in a situation where they clearly lack either. So how on earth did they get this position? In a post at his blog, author Scott Berkun explains five reasons why some managers have poor people skills:

  1. It takes a good manager to hire one.
  2. If good managers are scarce, they go where they are rewarded.
  3. If the only way to get a raise is to manage, people become managers for bad reasons.
  4. Some bad managers are good at managing up.
  5. Some managers do not match their management style to the people working for them.

Basics of Bad Managers

Sometimes the hire of a bad manager is a result of the head of the department not being a good leader as well. If they have bad people skills, then they’ll probably hire similarly bad managers. Some workplaces will work harder than others to prevent this from becoming an integrated part of the workplace culture. Also note that the best managers are going to go where their skills are sufficiently acknowledged and rewarded. An organization with lousy management will not easily attract better managers.

Another big factor for the presence of poor managers comes from people viewing the position as the only way to get a raise. If people are motivated by monetary reasons instead of genuine interest in the position, they probably won’t bring the proper skills to the table. To avoid this, businesses should establish two different promotion paths for employees–one on a management track, and another that cultivates individual skill.

Other managers may be in the position because they are particularly good at managing up, which is the ability to influence superiors. Managing up is a good skill for any manager to have. However, it is not a good thing if they get the position simply because they are courting the right people. And unless there is a feedback loop that directly involves the front-line workers, their superiors may be in the dark about how poor a job they are really doing.

Berkun finishes by saying that sometimes the manager isn’t bad, but rather isn’t acclimating themselves to the right managing style:

Some employees want a stable easy-going workplace, while others are ambitious and want a fast pace and high adventure. Some people prefer a hands-off work style where they have high autonomy. Others need regular coaching and mentoring. Of course a truly great manager recognizes these different needs and strives to provide them (even if they require him/her to stretch beyond their own natural management style), but sometimes what is cast as “bad management” is really a mismatch of expectations.

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