How to Be the Worst PM on the Planet: 11 Habits to Stop Now!

by Jennifer Bridges, PMP (formerly, Jennifer Whitt)

The bad habits of project managers are a frequent cause of discussion on PM forums. The list of bad habits could go on and on but we’ve determined there are eleven that anyone can Break Bad Habits Now!stop immediately. Some habits made this list because, I have to admit, they are mine; others are private confessions of project managers, and some are public criticisms by team members and other PMs.

  1. Playing Favorites. Picking out the team’s superstars, calling them out for all the great things they do and rewarding them we believe disengages the other team members.
  2. Allow Favors. Allowing exceptions for certain team members, such as allowing them to miss their milestones or their deliverables is a bad habit, as is accepting favors from stakeholders and accepting and injecting scope creep into your project.
  3. Become the Bottleneck. We understand that most of us defaulted to project management by being the accidental PM instead of intentionally pursuing it, and are doing this on the fly. If we have been promoted from the ranks into this position, we are probably juggling other areas of the business that we handled prior to becoming the PM. Maybe we are trying to be the business analyst in addition to being the project manager;  by actually trying to do everything ourselves, we become the bottleneck.
  4. Demean Your Team. Pointing out faults and demeaning members of your team, again, disengages / shuts down the whole team, and they actually gang up against the project manager.
  5. Micromanaging Experienced People. Experienced people get where they are because they are experienced. They know how to do their job, and typically know how to do it better than you. We need to invest that time into less experienced people who do actually need our guidance.
  6. Ignore Team / Stay @ Desk. Not being social and collaborating with team members or stakeholders, or essentially hiding at our desk so that people won’t bug us about things is definitely a bad habit.
  7. Please Everyone. Pleasing everyone will generally derail the project right from the get go because we can’t actually please everyone.
  8. Avoid Conflict. Avoiding conflict does nothing to resolve it, but we also know that some conflict is good. Managers need to become skillful in knowing when to manage and when to fuel conflict so we can actually get problems resolved.
  9. Sellout Team / aka throw them under the bus/blame. Blaming doesn’t gather loyalty to the PM; it shuts people down and makes them not want to be on your project. Sometimes people will intentionally stop working the task or producing deliverables that you need them to produce on schedule and within the milestones.
  10. Circumvent Process. Circumventing process usually derails the project because it leads to increased scope, switching out resources or things that negatively impact the project.
  11. Eliminate Tracking. If tracking is eliminated then no one has a clue what’s happening on the project or where they are, not even the project manager. Contrary to the myth, teams really do want to know those things and to be successful on the project.

In order to stop these eleven habits now, what do you need to put in place to help eliminate them? It may require some training, or may just be a matter of having tips, tools and techniques available. Or it may be that project management software is the best aid for you. If you are the accidental project manager, it’s understandable that you may not have these things in place. I didn’t, and I learned the hard way. In addition to the tools, we lead ourselves along this path of change by studying two things:

  1. Study Yourself. We study ourselves and say, “Of these habits, which ones am I doing? Which do I need to eliminate? What training, tips, tools, techniques and software do I need? What else do I do?”
  2. Study Great PMs/Leaders. I study other great managers and leaders and look for things they are doing differently that I can adopt.

By putting the training and tools in place, and by studying ourselves and great leaders we bridge the gap. This is how we move from being the accidental or perhaps “worst on the planet” to intentional project manager.

If you found these tips from Jennifer Whitt, PMP of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in her self-paced, downloadable courses at


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