Are Other People Doing Your Job as a PMP Project Manager?

Power Outlet Your phone rings and you are summoned to the office of the President of the Company. You walk in and one of the Departmental Managers has the executives’ ear about a Risk he identified on one of your projects. Or, you are on a weekly call with a client reviewing project status when you are floored by the question…”Didn’t you hear about the change? We just made that decision with your company’s salesperson.”

What is going on here? Someone else is doing your job as a PMP Project Manager and that’s a BIG problem! Why does this happen and what can you do about it? Below are three reasons why this may occur and steps you can take to get your job back:

Reason One: You May Not Be Doing Your Job

Ouch. This first reason may sting a bit. If you look at your situation objectively you may find that you are not fulfilling the role of a Project Manager. You may be forced into this situation through no fault of your own. There may be too many projects assigned to you and each one gets your extremely divided attention. Or, pre-determined timelines may be so aggressive it becomes difficult to balance the demands of the projects against the hours in a day.

Another scenario is that you may have become disengaged or lost the initial drive you had at first. This results in going through the motions of being a Project Manager and not one step beyond what is required. This type of performance doesn’t cut it anymore and ultimately is the responsibility of the Project Manager to change.

What can you do about it?

First, take a breath. The initial reaction is going to be “how dare that person be talking to an executive or customer about my project!” Analyze your situation and assess if you are truly doing your job. Bring it to your manager’s attention and ask for help if you are overwhelmed. Waiting too long to ask for assistance only makes matters worse for everyone in the long run.

If it is your personal problem (tired, burned-out, fed-up, frustrated) you can find some good suggestions in last month’s PMP in Practice entitled “Four Ways to Re-energize Yourself as a PMP Project Manager”.

Reason Two: They May Not Know They Are Doing Your Job

People come from different organizations and have very different ideas of the job of a Project Manager. Some may feel a PM’s job is to simply serve as a scribe, take notes and send out minutes. Other organizations may have Project Managers run entire departments and carry a tremendous amount of credibility and influence within the organization.

Keep this fact in mind as you perform your Project Management function. It may simply be the case that the person is not used to dealing with a PMP Project Manager who takes the initiative, ensures people are informed, mitigates risks, and drives projects to completion.

What can you do about it?

Communication is the best remedy for this scenario. Talk to the person who you feel is moving into your area of responsibility and ask them why they feel they need to do this. You will generally find they did not know it was your job (based upon their experience with former PMs) and they will gladly step back and let you handle matters.

Additionally, take the time to explain your process and methodology to them for managing projects. In the case of the salesperson who is involved in making changes to the project, clearly communicate the fact that this impacts areas that they may not even be aware of. Schedules need to be adjusted, resources need to be lined up, priorities may need to shift…and there may even be the possibility of additional revenue if there is a change from the original scope of the project.

NOTE: See the right sidebar for additional resources that can help with Communication.

Reason Three: They Are Looking To Do Your Job

Machiavellian? Yes.

True? Sometimes.

They may not personally want to do your job, but they also don’t want YOU to do your job. This could be for a host of reasons that range from personality conflicts, to turf protection, to all points in between. This type of person is going to look for chinks in your armor that they can take advantage of in order to move their agenda forward.

This is the hardest scenario to address since you never know the direction this will take. It could be a passive-aggressive approach where resources are not delivering on their commitments to an outright undermining of your credibility.

What can you do about it?

We’re going under the assumption that you’ve tried talking through the issue and that didn’t work. What needs to be present in this scenario is top-notch Documentation. This is especially important as it relates to changes in the project plan, schedules, deliverables, and discussions around risk identification and mitigation. These are all areas that have the potential of causing major problems for a Project Manager who is currently in a defensive posture.

Keeping a chronological file of how the project changed from Point A to Point B will put you in a much better position when your direction and decisions are being challenged.

The above are just some of the reasons why someone else may be doing your job as a PMP Project Manager. Knowing when to ask for help, communicating clearly, and keeping impeccable documentation will help you navigate through these various scenarios and keep your career intact!

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