Are You a Hands-On Project Manager?

Posted by Brad Egeland

Interesting concept and you’re probably wondering what the heck I mean by this.  Usually there are two extremes of project managers and the obvious middle ground.  Let’s discuss….

The over-involved extreme

The over-involved extreme is the project manager who micro-manage teams on every detail, travel with them to every customer meeting no matter what the topic is or what level of involvement – if any – is needed by the project manager, and feel the need to be involved in every detail of the project.

The under-involved extreme

Then there are those project managers who for whatever reason, always seem to manage from afar.  They revise the project schedule and distribute it for viewing using a tool like Seavus’ Project Viewer, they conduct the status calls though they may leave much of the discussion to those who are more active in the solution and daily tasks, and they produce weekly status reports on time…every week.  They may have to do this due to their overloaded project schedule or they may choose to do this because they’re lazy…that’s two extremes within an extreme, I guess.

The middle ground PM

And of course….there’s the middle ground.  Depending on their project load, this type of PM doesn’t want to manage the team too closely…allowing them professional freedom to do their jobs.  The focus is to keep track of the project status, stay well involved but not spend unnecessary PM hours on tasks and meetings better left to the technical team and likewise to not overly involve the technical team in tasks the PM should be handling directly.  In both those cases, they object is to not burn through the project hours and budget any faster than you need to.

I’d like to think that I fall in that middle ground.  I know I’ve had projects where I’ve had to be part of that over-involved extreme group…when the customer mandated it, or an inexperienced team needed it, or a rogue developer needed monitoring.  And I’m certain that I’ve fallen into the under-involved extreme on a few projects as well.  Especially when I’ve had six projects to manage and four are currently in critical phases while two are moving very slowly or on autopilot.  Those two are going to get much less of my attention and I’ll probably be relying on the project team more on those projects while I stay on top of the other four.

What about you?  Where do you fall most of the time?  I’m guessing that most us will say ‘middle ground’ (and sometimes our team might disagree).  If so, what circumstances push you to one of the other extremes?  Let’s discuss….

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2 Comments to “Are You a Hands-On Project Manager?”

  • Nice post! I found this to be one of the biggest issues with PMing a project. The perception of how you are doing is different from each group, of course. In my case, as I am more technical, I have to restrain to go to deep in the actual solution. And I find the challenge thrilling…

  • key and important steps for the project managers for the successful completion of a project…

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