Friday, June 26, 2015

What We Can Do About It

Consider the Project Manager
First of all we need to consider if a project manager actually has the necessary skills to manage projects. A lot of people get thrown into project management because they are available, with no thought about what skills they need to carry out the role. I get a lot of feedback on this point so I know it is still happening today.

So a good honest appraisal should clearly identify any areas of skills shortage and development needs. But we need to be honest, not everyone can become a good project manager. Not everyone will have the right temperament or basic management skills. However, if they show promise then give them any necessary training but more importantly I think we should provide mentoring for them from an experienced (and therefore hopefully a wise) project manager.

But if they are not cut out for it, move them to somewhere else, where they can do less damage to the organisation.


Nicholas Snapp said...

You're right, project management is one of the most underrated skills out there because all too often managers assume anyone can do it (on schedule and on budget, mind you). I'm an engineer who has experienced many times over, the phenomenon of a technically superior engineer reaching the peak of their technical career progression. What's next? Management! It's particularly dangerous in engineering because the stereotypes are often true - many engineers simply do not enjoy human interaction. They can be number crunchers who enjoy running cool science experiments with humans, but emotional intelligence is nonexistent. These good people should remain in the background, because as PM, they can singlehandedly kill a project based on their inability to gain stakeholder alignment and drive it forward. A close second is the disengagement they can cause if they are responsible for one or more direct reports. Managers, keep technical geniuses in their technical worlds - don't make them Managers or Project Managers. If they want to move up and make more money, get creative and create a technical position for them. It's not that hard to retain people if they enjoy what they're doing and feel valued (don't use HR as an excuse, just get it done). Ok, off my soapbox now...

P M Blogger said...

How very true Nicholas. Many years ago I worked for Digital Equipment Corp (as manager of a software engineering group) and had a brilliant software engineer working for me. I was able to promote him onto a higher grade and salary scale than I was on. An advantage of an engineering company that still believed engineering was a career and didn't force people into management as a career progression.