Project managers see themselves as The Keepers of The System – the captain who keeps the ship upright. But everyone else sees them as little more than glorified admins, taking up space in meetings where they add little value beyond “note taker.”
Over the life cycle of any given project, they will not only act surprised when it veers off-track from their “perfectly-to-process” project plan (even though, reality check, projects always do), but you can also rely on them to then spend gobs of time documenting what went wrong and reconstructing a revised project plan – because this time they’re gonna get it right for sure, guys! – rather than doing anything to actually fix it.
In other words, most project managers aren’t managing the project. They’re managing paperwork. And process.
Unfortunately, by the time they get their paperwork in order and neatly stacked to their liking, the project has either gone up in flames (much to their surprise) or succeeded only because other team members – the ones who actually get things done and can lead a team, titled or not – stepped in.
Project managers, according to blog Post Grad Problems, “turn menial tasks into convoluted, delay-ridden projects by assigning extended deadlines and scheduling unnecessary meetings… Their intent, while admirable, is inundated with bureaucracy… They schedule 400 meetings a week just to make sure everyone is doing their jobs, which keeps everyone but him or her from doing their jobs.” (read the whole post here)
The real tragedy, of course, is the sheer hopelessness of their situation: they’ll never add real value to the work because as a group they lack a technical understanding of it.
You can’t expect much out of a child’s “help” in the garage or the kitchen, because he or she lacks any understanding of cars or cooking. Now imagine you gave that kid a clipboard and a whistle and told him he was in charge.
That’s pretty much the problem with a project manager.