Are You a Project Manager that is Clueless?

There are two types of Project Managers. One is the type of Project Manager who has come up through the ranks of the projects they are now managing. They may have been on the construction site, were a software engineer or perhaps a field technician. They know the ins and outs of the industry, progressed in their career and are now responsible for managing a team.

The second type of Project Manager is clueless…in the sense that they did not come up through the ranks of the projects they are now managing. This shift can occur as companies have contracted over the past 18 months and resources have moved around. This person is a capable Project Manager, but may not be clued into the ins and outs of the technology they are now managing or the dynamics of a new business unit or industry.

Which one is better? Both have their pros and cons:

PROS of a PM who has a background in what they are managing

  • They will most likely have the immediate respect, or gain respect quickly from the team because of their background and history of being on the front line.
  • They innately know the details of the tasks that need to be accomplished.
  • They know the hidden “gotcha’s” that may not be obvious to someone who is new to that type of project.

CONS of a PM who has a background in what they are managing

  • May get caught in the trap of “I’ll just do it myself” and not rely upon their team.
  • May be less patient with newer team members.
  • May succumb to “we’ve always done it this way” mentality and not explore new ideas or processes.

 PROS of a PM who DOES NOT have a background in what they are managing

  • They need to depend upon their team exclusively to get the job done. Some may consider this a weakness, but it’s not. This allows the PM to stay off the critical path and keeps accountability at the resource level.
  • They can cross-pollinate a project and team with best practices and new ideas from other industries.
  • They can bring a level of excitement to a project that becomes contagious to others on the team.

CONS of a PM who DOES NOT have a background in what they are managing

  • May not be able to determine the accuracy of what vendors, clients and even team members are telling them as it relates to time, estimates, costs, and history. They will need to do more research to verify.
  • There is a learning curve involved that they will need to go through to come up to speed.

By definition, a Project Manager is someone who applies knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements. Both types of Project Managers can accomplish this if they have the right mindset.

What do you think? Is one type of PM better than the other? What additional pros and cons have you seen from each type of Project Manager, and what can each do to shore up any weaknesses they may have?


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