A majority of projects at companies across the board are managed by the wrong people. Those who never thought about this before usually react in one of two ways. Some people sigh and say that they’ve known that for years. They have little choice but to suffer under the wrong decisions in a way that would make a satirical comedian proud.
On the other hand, many people would be shocked and say that they were sure their firm was always hiring the best people for the job. They’d then ask how anyone could tell in the first place.
Perhaps it’s a little easier to start out by looking at a list of things that make someone a good project manager.
Qualities of Good Project Managers
If you’re hiring someone, then make sure that they’re actually trained to do the job. Professional managers potentially hold several different credentials, including a PMP certification, and more than likely a college degree. While it might be common these days to hold a diploma in an unrelated field, those who hold these kinds of positions should at least hold some sort of tertiary certificate.
Good project managers are master communicators. They know how to deliver bad news and clear up confusing situations. Considering that your managers are going to be in charge of relatively large teams, you’ll need someone who can share information.
Nevertheless, the best managers always view themselves as servants to a bigger cause. While your staffers look to them for leadership, they don’t necessarily want to be looked up to. They’re not in the industry for the glitz and glamour.
Unfortunately, you may have picked a bad project manager if this above description sounds radically different from what you’re working with.
Spotting a Bad Hire
A majority of bad project managers throw up a few red flags, so it should be fairly easy to spot them. If you’re concerned, then look for any of the following major issues:
- Holding too many meetings – Since project managers who don’t have everything under control are always looking for innovative ways to clean up messes in their department, they have a tendency to hold extra meetings in the hopes that they’d be able to clear things up. When this doesn’t work, they end up having to hold even more meetings to make up for the continued confusion.
- Lack of trust – Project heads who continue to come up short on their promises will eventually lose the trust of their teammates. Over time, they’ll start to wonder whether anything will ever be delivered on time.
- Unnecessary documentation – In some cases, there’s a legitimate reason to write long documents. Some people, however, write copious amounts of notes that really don’t say anything at all. This might look impressive, but it’s just confusing for technicians and financial staff.
- Never gives credit where credit is due: Perhaps one of the worst things a project manager can do is take credit for the successful completion of a project without giving any credit to all the other members of the team who made the achievement possible.
- Fails to deal with those who won’t play well with others: Eventually, every company is going to run into personality conflicts. This is especially true of growing companies. Project managers who don’t know how to deal with this can create a situation where anarchy takes over.
- Doesn’t ask for input: Facilitation is arguably the single most important skill for a project manager to have. If your planners don’t ask their teammates what they think about an issue, then few people will ever have any respect for them. On top of this, they might end up running in circles since they won’t be able to identify problems that could otherwise be easily solved.
What to Do With Bad Project Managers
Once you’ve diagnosed the problem, you’ll need to find a cure. However, going around firing people the first time they make a mistake is not the solution. Make sure that you escalate things carefully. Try talking to your managers about the issue first. There might be extenuating circumstances you’re not aware of. Some of the issues might actually have more to do with those they’re working with than the managers themselves.
Open lines of communication can solve the majority of problems. Building a collaborative corporate culture isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. While the day might eventually come when you have to let someone go, it really does pay to work with people to come to a resolution that benefits everyone involved.
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