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A software professional with a passion for people excellence, process efficiency and product innovation. I like to learn ideas from other fields and blend them to see how they can benefit software development. Tathagat is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 13 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

63 Things it Means to Be a Project Manager

02.22.2013
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Let's face it, being a project manager is not for everyone. We place a truckload of expectations on a project manager and then use an extremely asymmetric yardstick to evaluate their work. When a project succeeds, we attribute it to the organization, the culture, the team, and the management support, but when the project fails, we simply blame the project manager for it! Yes, life is often lonely and unfair for a project manager.

The other day, my wife got me 1001 Things it means to be a Dad and while flipping through the pages, I thought don't we have so many things common between parenting and project management? Both the roles have changed drastically in the last few decades. No longer does the disciplinarian / command and control approach work, the divide between "management" and "labor" has everything but disappeared, and so on. The result was a lighthearted but realistic take on what does it mean to be a Project Manager? Enjoy :)

  1. Being a Project Manager means being a braveheart in front of the team, but starting the day with a small private prayer.

  2. Being a Project Manager means having a self-belief that can survive against all odds, but still having everyday blues.

  3. Being a Project Manager means fiercely protecting your team in front of the Customer and the Management, but getting back and having the tough talk with the team right after that.

  4. Being a Project Manager means knowing that it is not a wise thing to adopt every new methodology unless it is at least five years old, whatever the team members have to say about it.

  5. Being a Project Manager means realizing that anything of lasting value was not built in a day. Rome, for example. And then rushing the team into delivering as per the deadline.

  6. Being a Project Manager means telling yourself aal izz well seven times a day, everyday, even on weekends.

  7. Being a Project Manager means saying everyone is equal, but still finding out-of-turn opportunities for underlings in the team.

  8. Being a Project Manager means telling your team not to believe in miracles, and then looking for a silver bullet.

  9. Being a Project Manager means beginning to appreciate other thankless jobs.

  10. Being a Project Manager means still maintaining a cheer while knowing that the last two resignations in the team will definitely kill the project.

  11. Being a Project Manager means sometimes taking a Sunday off.

  12. Being a Project Manager means making someone's day even when you feel like committing suicide.

  13. Being a Project Manager means having a personal copy of "The Mythical Man-Month" and reading it at least once every year.

  14. Being a Project Manager means tolerating team members dozing off in their cubicles or in the middle of a meeting.

  15. Being a Project Manager means realizing that you are only as good as your last project.

  16. Being a Project Manager means losing the popularity contest among team members. Almost always!

  17. Being a Project Manager means success is the multiplication of several factors, and when any one of them becomes zero, the result is a failure.

  18. Being a Project Manager means working with supersized egos.

  19. Being a Project Manager means knowing the meaning of 'tough love'.

  20. Being a Project Manager means maintaining two different dates one for customer and one for the team, but never admitting it.

  21. Being a Project Manager means not falling for the 'it will be ready over the weekend' trick, but still cheering up the guys for their enthusiasm and support!

  22. Being a Project Manager means keeping the team first, customer second and the company third, but always telling the team that customer comes first.

  23. Being a Project Manager means having more confidence in the team then they have in themselves.

  24. Being a Project Manager means showing up first in the team meetings and waiting patiently for team's "prima donnas" to show up late (or simply not show up at all!).

  25. Being a Project Manager means knowing that there is no such thing as bad times, but then wondering when will good times return for you?

  26. Being a Project Manager means building a culture that welcomes all forms of diversity without any conditions or prejudice.

  27. Being a Project Manager means knowing that every promise made to the team and the Customer must be kept, but promises made to family need not be!

  28. Being a Project Manager means playing different strokes for different folks.
  29. Being a Project Manager means sometimes acknowledging in front of the team that there are things beyond your control.

  30. Being a Project Manager means knowing that meritocracy might not always win, but merit must always be promoted.

  31. Being a Project Manager means knowing what doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger.

  32. Being a Project Manager means knowing that if team members don't oppose you, something is wrong.

  33. Being a Project Manager means knowing what goes around, comes around.

  34. Being a Project Manager means sometimes ordering pizzas when the team is working late.

  35. Being a Project Manager means being a human being first and foremost.

  36. Being a Project Manager means knowing that all mails sent on Saturday 2:00am are not always about working hard.

  37. Being a Project Manager means learning new things all the time. For example, learning new technical things from new college grads.

  38. Being a Project Manager means holding the proverbial mirror to the team, and telling them that you (and not them) alone are responsible for the mess.

  39. Being a Project Manager means having rock solid ethics.

  40. Being a Project Manager means not falling in love with the project plan.

  41. Being a Project Manager means knowing that bricks must be used to create bridges and not walls.

  42. Being a Project Manager means knowing when to sit down with the guys, and when to let go.

  43. Being a Project Manager means telling war stories to the troops, hoping against hope that will inspire them.

  44. Being a Project Manager means getting your own coffee just like everyone else in the team.

  45. Being a Project Manager means joining the guys at the water-cooler when in good times, and avoiding the water-cooler when in bad times so they can gripe and bitch against the management together.

  46. Being a Project Manager means agreeing with team members that frameworks like PMBoK are useless, but then going back and referring to it once again :) .

  47. Being a Project Manager means dressing up in Santa Claus suit at least once in your career.

  48. Being a Project Manager means never ever speaking ill of your manager in front of your team.

  49. Being a Project Manager means not feeling "threatened" letting team members sit at the head of the table.

  50. Being a Project Manager means cheering up the rookie on the team for a screw-up when you really want to strangle him for that costly and dumb mistake!

  51. Being a Project Manager means playing the good cop for the team.

  52. Being a Project Manager means knowing that success is useless it is only the failure that teaches something worthwhile.

  53. Being a Project Manager means protecting the team, but not overprotecting them.

  54. Being a Project Manager means at times, slowing down is the fastest way to results.

  55. Being a Project Manager means emphasizing the value of relationship to team while dealing with a separation at home.

  56. Being a Project Manager means mentally visualizing an overloaded plate while signing up for additional work beyond what the team can sign-up for.

  57. Being a Project Manager means posting Dilbert comic strip on the project wall to show what a fun guy you are, but in reality, hoping that no one else posts comics nastier than that.

  58. Being a Project Manager means knowing it's just a project after all, but then going out and giving all you got!

  59. Being a Project Manager means dying a slow death in a fast lane.

  60. Being a Project Manager means neither having the cake nor eating it too!

  61. Being a Project Manager means you have that something special that everyone aspires for but no one really wants.

  62. Being a Project Manager means having an unflinching faith in life after death :) , especially the kind of death that comes typically at the end of every project.

  63. Being a Project Manager means finally realizing after twenty years of school of hard knocks that the real outcome of a project is not about delivering against the set goals, but rather building a great project manager!

What is your take on what does it mean being a Project Manager? Do you equate that with the Captain of the sinking ship who must also go down with the ship, or do you see it as a job as noble as Mother Teresa? Do you feel a Project Manager must be solely held accountable and hounded for every single project failure, and when it comes to celebrating the project success, underplay his/her contributions lest it upsets the team and other stakeholders? Do you feel being a project manager is really more about unsung heroism than a rockstar performance? Do you think today's project manager is about being more of a chaperone or a tour guide? I think there is so much to being a project manager we have probably never done enough justice to that. Feel free to share your own unique perspective of things it means to be a Project Manager.

Published at DZone with permission of Tathagat Varma, author and DZone MVB. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)