Poor Project Managers
Recently I took a temp job writing about software for a medical device. The company is affiliated with Baxter Pharmaceuticals. I thought that working in this environment I would meet professional, smart, well-educated, strong work ethic, and most of all respectful people. They were smart and well-educated, many of whom were Ph.Ds. But the Project Manager was poor and finally “broke” the documentation project and ruined the project.
This PM had a degree in BioChemical Engineering and he hired me to coordinate a huge documentation project that included translations in 26 languages. I guess the group that I was in didn’t have much experience with documentation. The PM had absolutely no experience or expertise with any kind of documentation. Documentation is crucial in a regulated environment which this group was, and this project was big. Unfortunately, I worked for him. He hired me because of my skill set and my expansive knowledge of FrameMaker and software.
First off, there wasn’t a project plan that he shared with any of us who had to do the work. His deadlines moved on a whim because he made BIG promises for short deadlines to management. A HUGE mistake. He pushed off his work and decisions onto us and yelled when there was a mistake. He made a fatal mistake by assigning the WRONG part number to the manual, which was another critical mistake. When I asked him why he had done this, he yelled at me and said a part number is trivial! I don’t think the FDA will think so.
Why do companies do this? It’s bad for morale; bad for business because employees are unhappy; and just plain old unethical to treat people that way. You can always tell if a company has happy employees by the attitude of the technical support people. This company’s tech. support staff were efficient and very driven, but not happy. They were in a hurry to solve your problem or refer you to someone else. All bad stuff.
- “Arrogance- you can’t know everything, so being overly proud about what you do know means people will be less likely to share their skills with you.
- Delusions of grandeur- you have a lot of influence, but no authority. Treat your coworkers like your reports and you’ll wreck your relationships and hurt autonomy. When autonomy suffers, so does the product.
- Dithering- bad PMs have a lot of problems with execution. They’ll mask their inability to make a decision by analyzing endless combinations and burning a lot of dev cycles.
- Poor prioritization- can’t kill features, can’t decide what to do next, build bloated features because they can’t pick the minimum set, etc.
- Passivity- the other side of being everyone’s boss, being everyone’s lackey. Doing everything Sales tells you, letting all crap flow downhill to your Engineering team.
- Assigns blame- you’re the face of the product, the buck stops with you. By the time blame comes around, you’re the only one to blame, because you should’ve fixed it sooner.
- Takes credit- you deserve your share, but so does everyone.”
Resources and Interesting Articles
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 949-269-7809.