Myths surrounding a Project Manager


In my daily interaction with people at different IT organization in general and my company in particular, I hear different myths surrounding Project managers. There are certain expectations associated with Project managers both from top management and staff members and it’s very difficult to live up to these expectations and make both parties satisfied. So a good manger is the one who tries to realize organizations goal while keeping team members happy and motivated. I would like to address 3 common myths surrounding a Project Manager.

Myth#1: Managers have magic pills.

Reality: Dealing with human minds is very complex and most challenging. There is no science, it’s a pure ART. Whatever you do, there will still be people who are unmanageable and there will be changes uncontrollable. In my humble opinion, a good manager can:

  1. solve 50% of problems completely,
  2. partially solve 15% of problems,
  3. can make 15% of problems looks like no impact problem or out of scope by making them explicit with the help of communication,
  4. 20% problems are such that they always remain (some people in a certain context and some changes can never be managed). We must accept this.

Please note that above figures is only an expression of my experience and not based on any scientific study or research.

Managers are also human beings who are as imperfect as anyone else. Management is a different concept with holistic approach. It’s a different profession all together that is designed to manage people and processes with imperfections. People with a good experience and study of this subject can bring a lot of value.

Myth#2: Managers always curb freedom.

Reality: May be true for some bully managers. But in reality, a good manager creates an environment that enhances performance thereby bringing BEST out of people. A manager with experience and vision may curb team’s freedom temporary but it has an objective that eventually helps people only. Sometimes people are not able to visualize that far ahead because of (a) lack of experience (b) working in extreme comfort zone (c) arrogance that always has side effect of shortening the vision (d) any other unquoted reason.

It may also be the case that incompetent people have fear of being exposed and hence, they feel managers curb freedom. People who have zest to perform should raise their bars, use manager’s experience to plug gaps and work closely with him/her thereby taking more responsibility and let the manager rest in peace.

Myth#3: Manager should not have authority.

Reality: Some countries and cultures by default inculcate responsibilities and duties in public life. The authority is not required in these cases, a coach/facilitator would work perfectly fine in these kinds of environments. But concept of authority is more relevant in those societies which are still evolving and yet to reach a maturity level. Any manager has to have authority in those environments. A manager without authority would be like a car without fuel. Studies have revealed that human mind by psychology (especially in adulthood) is like a hard iron bar which is very difficult to bend. In order to shape the iron into a beautiful vessel, authority is required. The moment, whole world becomes so diligent, responsible, mature and high performance in a self organizing manner – all management institutes would be closed globally.

Adnan Arif

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One response to “Myths surrounding a Project Manager”

  1. ok…

    I saw this really great post today….

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