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How do project managers fail?

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I have just asked a question on the top PM failures, but after asking the question I started thinking, we know how projects fail, but nobody (I think) has discussed so far how and why do project managers fail? Is project failure equivalent to project manager's failure, or is it that project managers fail for other reasons as well?
asked 10 years ago by anonymous

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I will answer your last question first, project failure is not equivalent to the project manager's failure, but a project manager's failure means that the project was a failure.

Now, there are many reasons why project managers fail, here are the top 10 (in my opinion):

- The project manager is not a good communicator: If the PM does not communicate properly with all the project participants, then he will for sure fail. Communication is key to project management, after all, 90% of PM is communication!

- The project manager is not organized: Imagine someone who's managing a project with no organization skills whatsoever, what do you think is going to happen to the project?

- The projet manager is not a leader: Project managers who are good leaders are almost a guarantee that the project will succeed. Project managers who have no leadership skills may cause the project to fail because of their own failure as leaders (see http://www.projectmanagementquestions.com/3346/why-is-leadership-important-in-project-management )

- The project manager doesn't care about the project: This could be because the PM has no work ethics, or he could be demotivated or frustrated.

- The project manager doesn't know how to manage projects: Well, in this case, he shouldn't be called a project manager. There are some situations where you have programmers promoted from within to be PMs, while they have no idea what project management is about. They have no experience and no training in PM whatsoever.

- The functional manager conspires with his resources against the project manager: Unfortunately, this situation happens quite frequently in small companies, where the functional manager feels that the project manager will expand into his territory, so what he (the functional manager) does is that he starts conspiring with the project resources (reporting to him) against the PM (resources will become disobedient and unproductive in this case).

- The company doesn't have a PMO: The PMO controls project management in the company, with no PMO, the project manager may use templates, methodologies, and tools that may or may not be suitable for his project.

- The project manager does not keep himself up-to-date with the latest on project management: Methodologies are tweaked and enhanced by the day, new tools that will make the project manager's life easier are built every day, articles and papers are written which include new (and sometimes better) techniques to manage projects. If the project manager does not keep himself up-to-date, then he will miss all these things, and his skills will diminish with time (eventually will become rotten), and he may soon be replaced with someone who's more involved and aware of the latest in the PM world.

- The project manager is at odds with everyone in the company: The project manager should be diplomatic and should be on good terms with everyone, not only in his projects, but also in his organization. The project manager should not create conflicts, he should resolve conflicts.

- The project manager is not proactive: Proactivity is a key skill for project managers; they have to be proactive when it comes to managing conflicts, risks, and stakeholders. Non proactive project managers may soon see themselves swamped with a myriad of issues that need to be resolved.
answered 10 years ago by MaplePM (46,940 points)

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