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The Seven Habits of Highly
Ineffective Project Managers
Out of the Box
Oct 2015 CGST Learning Org.
Johnny Wong
While it borders on over-generalization incompetent
project managers do demonstrate a consistent set of
behavior and similar management style. Below is a list
of common mistakes a project manager can make
Poor Communicator
• The first and foremost incompetence of ineffective
project managers is their inability to communicate.
• They have a tendency to over-emphasize technical
matters, and are used to their old working habits as
engineers or technocrats.
• One PM, when managing a sizable software project,
seldom spoke to the customers except during
scheduled progress meetings, because they were
‘unreasonable’. He didn’t enjoy talking to his team
either because they were ‘sometimes too dumb’. By
doing so he had put himself in a precarious position
of adding another entry to his failed project list.
Micro-managing
• While most business schools nowadays teach
managers not to manage but to lead, incompetent
project managers still cling to micro-managing.
• They will check on every minor detail, worry about
every task, and pry into the daily schedule of team
members.
• They want full control. Yet by micro-managing they
de-motivate the team, overload themselves, lose
sight of the big picture, and eventually cede control
to destiny.
Tasks Manager not Relationship Manager
• This is a common mistake for those who believe in the old schools of
project management.
• They focus on managing every task down to the lowest level,
thinking that as long as the team produces every agreed deliverable
on time and within budget, the customers are bound to be happy.
• Research after research, however, reveals the growing importance of
stakeholder relationship management.
• It’s absolutely essential for a project manager to build up solid
relationship with customers, vendors, project team, and other
stakeholders.
• Through managing their expectation, a relationship-oriented project
manager will ensure customer satisfaction and project success.
Working Hard not Smart
• Asians tend to work long hours as Confucianism sees diligence as a
virtue. Taken to the extreme managers in Japan, Korea and Hong
Kong spend 16 hours a day working and feeling proud of it.
• Incompetent project managers think working hard can make up for
their ineffective leadership style, lack of planning, and inept
problem solving skills.
• They think their bosses and clients want to see them working hard,
and expect their subordinates to work even harder. Yet in projects it
is result that counts.
• To deliver results the team does need to work extensive hours
under stress for certain spells of the project. Regular overtime is
however a disservice and a symptom of project failure.
• Good project managers with high success rate always devote
sufficient time to planning, resolve problems in a timely manner,
stay alert to risks, and negotiate adequate resources.
‘Fault-Intolerant’
• Good leaders always give credit to the team when it is due, and take on
blame on behalf of the team.
• They are willing to take calculated risk and encourage their team to do
so.
• They take minor setbacks positively and learn from mistakes.
• They provide constructive criticism privately rather than making
personal attacks.
• Incompetent project managers cannot tolerate the slightest faults and
point fingers to everyone else except themselves.
• They are ‘fault-intolerant’. They don’t have the same problem with
credit though, and won’t hesitate to heap on themselves praises that
don’t belong to them.
Technically Focused
• Some project managers cannot overcome the
temptation to go back to their root as a techie.
• They would jump right into any technical issues, even
though their role is to ensure overall project objectives
are to be met.
• Instead of focusing on planning communications to
stakeholders about possible schedule delay, seeking
alternatives and workarounds, or acquiring additional
resources, they would rather spend time on resolving
the technical issues, sometimes taking over from the
real technical experts.
Mr. Nice Guy
• While there are merits with being nice, a good project manager has to be firm and
committed to the agreed project objectives, i.e. on time, within budget, and 100%
scope.
• Mr. Nice Guy tends to accept change requests from customers (e.g. new requirements)
or senior management (e.g. less manpower) without even trying to negotiate.
• Their rationale – To maintain good relationship with every project stakeholder.
However, genuine relationship cannot be built by yielding your position too easily
without sufficient debates based on reasoning.
• Contrary to Mr. Nice Guy’s belief, a competent project manager can earn the trust and
respect of customers, senior executives, and team members by sticking to what she
believes to be right for the project.
System and Structure
• A system is a set of interacting or interdependent components forming an integrated
whole
– A system has structure, it contains parts (or components) that are directly or
indirectly related to each other;
– A system has behavior, it exhibits processes that fulfill its function or purpose;
– A system has interconnectivity: the parts and processes are connected by
structural and/or behavioral relationships.
• A structure may be a hierarchy (a cascade of one-to-many relationships), a network
featuring many-to-many links, or a lattice featuring connections between
components that are neighbors in space.
The 7 habits of highly ineffective project managers

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The 7 habits of highly ineffective project managers

  • 1. The Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective Project Managers Out of the Box Oct 2015 CGST Learning Org. Johnny Wong
  • 2. While it borders on over-generalization incompetent project managers do demonstrate a consistent set of behavior and similar management style. Below is a list of common mistakes a project manager can make
  • 3. Poor Communicator • The first and foremost incompetence of ineffective project managers is their inability to communicate. • They have a tendency to over-emphasize technical matters, and are used to their old working habits as engineers or technocrats. • One PM, when managing a sizable software project, seldom spoke to the customers except during scheduled progress meetings, because they were ‘unreasonable’. He didn’t enjoy talking to his team either because they were ‘sometimes too dumb’. By doing so he had put himself in a precarious position of adding another entry to his failed project list.
  • 4. Micro-managing • While most business schools nowadays teach managers not to manage but to lead, incompetent project managers still cling to micro-managing. • They will check on every minor detail, worry about every task, and pry into the daily schedule of team members. • They want full control. Yet by micro-managing they de-motivate the team, overload themselves, lose sight of the big picture, and eventually cede control to destiny.
  • 5. Tasks Manager not Relationship Manager • This is a common mistake for those who believe in the old schools of project management. • They focus on managing every task down to the lowest level, thinking that as long as the team produces every agreed deliverable on time and within budget, the customers are bound to be happy. • Research after research, however, reveals the growing importance of stakeholder relationship management. • It’s absolutely essential for a project manager to build up solid relationship with customers, vendors, project team, and other stakeholders. • Through managing their expectation, a relationship-oriented project manager will ensure customer satisfaction and project success.
  • 6. Working Hard not Smart • Asians tend to work long hours as Confucianism sees diligence as a virtue. Taken to the extreme managers in Japan, Korea and Hong Kong spend 16 hours a day working and feeling proud of it. • Incompetent project managers think working hard can make up for their ineffective leadership style, lack of planning, and inept problem solving skills. • They think their bosses and clients want to see them working hard, and expect their subordinates to work even harder. Yet in projects it is result that counts. • To deliver results the team does need to work extensive hours under stress for certain spells of the project. Regular overtime is however a disservice and a symptom of project failure. • Good project managers with high success rate always devote sufficient time to planning, resolve problems in a timely manner, stay alert to risks, and negotiate adequate resources.
  • 7. ‘Fault-Intolerant’ • Good leaders always give credit to the team when it is due, and take on blame on behalf of the team. • They are willing to take calculated risk and encourage their team to do so. • They take minor setbacks positively and learn from mistakes. • They provide constructive criticism privately rather than making personal attacks. • Incompetent project managers cannot tolerate the slightest faults and point fingers to everyone else except themselves. • They are ‘fault-intolerant’. They don’t have the same problem with credit though, and won’t hesitate to heap on themselves praises that don’t belong to them.
  • 8. Technically Focused • Some project managers cannot overcome the temptation to go back to their root as a techie. • They would jump right into any technical issues, even though their role is to ensure overall project objectives are to be met. • Instead of focusing on planning communications to stakeholders about possible schedule delay, seeking alternatives and workarounds, or acquiring additional resources, they would rather spend time on resolving the technical issues, sometimes taking over from the real technical experts.
  • 9. Mr. Nice Guy • While there are merits with being nice, a good project manager has to be firm and committed to the agreed project objectives, i.e. on time, within budget, and 100% scope. • Mr. Nice Guy tends to accept change requests from customers (e.g. new requirements) or senior management (e.g. less manpower) without even trying to negotiate. • Their rationale – To maintain good relationship with every project stakeholder. However, genuine relationship cannot be built by yielding your position too easily without sufficient debates based on reasoning. • Contrary to Mr. Nice Guy’s belief, a competent project manager can earn the trust and respect of customers, senior executives, and team members by sticking to what she believes to be right for the project.
  • 10.
  • 11. System and Structure • A system is a set of interacting or interdependent components forming an integrated whole – A system has structure, it contains parts (or components) that are directly or indirectly related to each other; – A system has behavior, it exhibits processes that fulfill its function or purpose; – A system has interconnectivity: the parts and processes are connected by structural and/or behavioral relationships. • A structure may be a hierarchy (a cascade of one-to-many relationships), a network featuring many-to-many links, or a lattice featuring connections between components that are neighbors in space.