Project Managers are the project delivery team leads in many organizations. If the organization is medium to large in size, project managers belong to a Project Management Office typically. There are good vs bad project managers. The role of a Project Management Officer or PMO manager must be facilitating good project management and ensuring good project managers are rising in a PMO. How can we differentiate good vs bad project managers?
Good vs Bad Project Managers
- Good project managers lead, and bad PMs manage
- The good PMs are proactive, and bad PMs are reactive
- Good PMs are analytical, bad PMs decide based on rumors
- The good PMs take accountability, bad PMs blame the team or others
We will go over the characteristics of good vs bad project managers in this post.
Good vs Bad Project Managers
You have probably worked with a few PMs in your professional life. I am sure some of them had quite a bad reputation while others had a positive memorable experience. We will go over the differences between good vs bad project managers in this post. See the signs of poor project management.
1- Good PMs lead, bad PMs manage
Good project managers are leaders. They lead and mentor the team. Bad PMs just manage the tasks, and direct people but do not show leadership. Though this may not sound like a significant difference, the level of influence of the good PM and the bad PM on the team is enormous.
When the bad PMs are managing the team, they give less intellectual space to the team to show their creativity. Since the PMs have almost exclusive decision-making power, the teams can’t grow beyond some point, as they should. Moreover, the pressure of the PM to meet the targets often causes unnecessary fatigue among the team members. A bad project manager delegates less work to the team. They trust their team less and want to micromanage them from time to time. They rarely ask their team for input or ideas nor do they discuss with the team as much as they should. So there is not much information exchanged between them and the team. These are just some of the many things that you face when you are working with a bad PM.
On the other hand, when you are lucky to have a good PM, they would be leading you through an open-concept workspace. You will feel free to initiate tasks, create new ideas, and make decisions, knowing you will not be criticized, but rather be led through the journey. You will never feel that someone is supervising you all the time. The good PMs will be showing you how to do your work and also supporting you whenever you need it. They will also provide you with leadership and support, no matter how complex the project might be. They will consider your success as their success.
So, to compare good vs bad project managers, we might say that the good PM is the one who leads his team throughout the project and is more successful and more accepted by the team. In today’s complex and multicultural project environments, bad PMs are not gladly accepted by project teams. It’s because they are considered to be a negative influence and cause friction in their productivity.
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2- Good PMs are proactive, bad PMs are reactive
Good PMs are proactively monitoring the execution of the project and the external factors that might impact the project. They try to prevent any negative events that might affect the project before they happen. On the other hand, bad PMs are reactive. They do not act unless a risk happens or when its effects become prominent. This is obviously not the right approach as it may harm the project and the business badly.
Good PMs are proactive managers, as they are constantly predicting the future and making critical decisions. It is very important to be proactive, especially when you are working in an uncertain or complex workplace. Why is it very important, you may wonder? Well, there are always changing business needs and changing customer requirements, which need to be addressed properly. Moreover, no project would be free of issues. Issues related to cost, resources, planning, and other things will surely occur. Hence, you need to proactively see what could happen in the future and have a prepared plan to deal with such situations.
The reactive PMs are often not open to change. And, they do not think ahead of time. Due to this characteristic, they do not try to create a strategy to prevent failures or issues well ahead of time. Since they are not looking at the future, they fail to address the situations that may suddenly pop up. Consequently, they face problems and in turn, the project also suffers.
The future is very difficult to predict. But you may have heard the popular quote many times “prevention is better than cure”. So, it is always better to plan for possible threats beforehand rather than letting them happen and then think about how to deal with them. Once the issue has occurred, it is more difficult as well as costly to fix it at that time. So, being proactive rather than reactive prepares you, your team, and your project for future events. And, it saves you from sudden unforeseen troubles and stress later.
3- Good vs Bad Project Managers: Good PMs are analytical, bad PMs only hear rumors
Being analytical refers to an individual’s capability to identify problems, investigate the relevant facts, and determine a logical solution. Analytical skills are used when observing and collecting data, brainstorming ideas, interpreting data, and making decisions based on a specific situation. Analytical skills are very important in many different fields. The project managers must possess many analytical skills and apply them to their work.
If you are working as a project manager, you must have a good level of analytical skills. At work, you may have to find solutions to many problems and make hard decisions. Only if you are analytical, you can find suitable outcomes. An analytical PM would have the ability to think about anything out of the box. They would analyze the ideas and examine them carefully. They would decide based on facts and figures. Moreover, analytical PMs tend to be highly knowledgeable in their field. Their team members will; trust them and will not hesitate to follow their lead.
Bad PMs rely on rumors in the team. They listen to what people say about a certain issue and decide based on what people think about it. The non-analytical PMs do have enough information about the work. And they do not seek information to base their decisions on. And, since they rely mostly on unsubstantiated talks, their plans and decisions are often inaccurate. They tend to give unrealistic milestones and illogical ideas. These bad decisions result in issues and challenges in the future.
4- Good vs Bad Project Managers: Good PMs are servant leaders, bad PMs are authoritative managers
Servant leaders are project managers who focus on the growth and development of their people. Their main goal is to serve their team and address their needs. So, although they are leaders, they strive to serve others, rather than take control and exercise power.
Good vs Bad PMs
Good PMs are servant leaders and help their teams to improve while they are delivering their projects. The authoritative project managers, on the contrary, stick to the procedures, steps, and checklists in their daily work. They set the working limits and dictate how the team should work. They do not participate enough in the project work but instead expect the team to complete all the tasks. So, what’s wrong if you have authoritative management at your workplace? Well, for those employees who are accustomed to working freely and make own decisions, such a style of management may appear to them as overbearing. Authoritative management can even cause employees to rebel.
It is not too bad to be authoritative and show the team the policies, steps, and other important things. However, if present yourself as a servant leader, your team will be motivated and follow your steps. The team will also get from you emotional, technical, and management support in their day-to-day work. Since the PM is in a senior position, they can share a lot of knowledge and experience with the team. When that happens, the efficiency and productivity of the team increase.
Comparing good vs bad project managers in terms of preference, a good PM will always be preferred over the authoritative manager. Since the good manager would be acting as a servant leader, they would prefer to have such a leader and will feel more comfortable working with them. Since the servant leaders are working closely with their team members, listening and helping them throughout the project, they are actually fostering a fearless work environment.
5- Good vs Bad Project Managers: Good PMs take accountability, bad PMs blame the team or others
Good project managers accept accountability for the success or failure of the project. Bad project managers will blame others such as customers, suppliers, or their project teams. If an issue occurs, a bad project manager will try to save face by putting the blame on someone else. The team members notice such poor behavior and don’t trust their project manager’s decisions or plans. Since team members know that these bad PMs may blame them at any time, they work under constant stress, resulting in a loss of focus on work tasks
It is natural for anyone to feel humiliated or belittled when they are pinpointed for blame. Unwarranted blame is unfair treatment for any employee, resulting in a loss of morale. An employee may even want to leave the project or the organization where they are working.
On the other hand, a good PM takes full accountability, in both good or bad situations. They are effective because of their ability to motivate, influence, and inspire. They provide vision and direction. They understand the personal desires, emotions, and worries of their teams and treat them accordingly.
When good PMs are taking accountability for their decisions, words, actions, and outcomes, they will be more trusted by their team members. By establishing this trust, their teams will follow them, without hesitation. Moreover, there will be increased opportunities for improved performance and positive results for your organization.
Summary: Good vs Bad Project Managers
In order to understand the differences between good vs bad project managers, we looked at various factors that might influence the team to consider their leaders as good or bad project managers. We discussed the important topic of taking accountability. Also, we examined how helpful they are to their team, do they support them in their work or just give orders to get the jobs done.
We also looked at how analytical the good and bad project managers are. If they are analytical, they will align themselves with the organization’s vision or the project’s objectives. They will first try to understand the project and the rising issues and then make proper decisions. They will never rely on rumors or misinformation.
We all like to excel in what we do. When we are putting our effort towards our goals, we want to know what bad and good look like. Similarly, when it comes to a project manager, we should look for a good project manager.
In this post, we compared good vs bad project managers. We explained how good and bad managers work and get things done. We hope that now you will have a better understanding of both types of managers. So, if you had the option to choose between good vs bad project managers, which one you will choose? Certainly, you would choose to be a good project manager!
With Master of Project Academy training courses, the Project Managers or other employees will receive in-depth guidance on how to be accountable, trustworthy decision-makers. Every Project Manager needs to develop a set of soft skills to successfully manage their project team and other stakeholders. At Master of Project Academy, during our PMP, CAPM, and Core PM training courses, we discuss in depth how to motivate, develop, and properly manage the project team. High-functioning and supported teams are paramount to a successful project.
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