5 Signs Your Project Manager is Just an Empty Suit

Posted by Katie Conaway, Gian Genovesi, and Matt Trimmer

January 11, 2016 | 10:27 AM

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PM_empty_suit.pngThe Project Manager is an influential member of a project team. A good Project Manager can set the tone for an impactful and efficient project process, but a sub-par Project Manager can cause complications and holdups that increase the difficulty of a project. Here are five signs to look for to determine if your Project Manager is really just an empty suit:

They Think Deadlines are More Important Than Value

One signifier that your Project Manager is just an empty suit is if deadlines, milestones, and delivery dates are more important to them than the capabilities, functionality, and value of the system.

Of course, timing, deadlines, and budgets are incredibly important aspects of a project, but the goal is to deliver value and make people’s lives easier through technology. Providing a solution to the problems at hand is more important than just checking boxes and hitting milestones. And someone who doesn’t know or care about those solutions and is only interested in reporting to their boss that they have hit a milestone is not an effective Project Manager.

A Project Manager needs to be an active participant in the project process. When a problem with a deadline comes up, that means they need to determine if trimming the scope or expanding the budget in order to meet the deadline is more important than moving the deadline to ensure the best quality result. They need to be interested in the goals of the project, not just the deadlines.

They Don’t Manage Expectations

As anyone who has been involved in an eCommerce project knows, the scope, timeline, or budget of a project can change for any reason. Whether new information is discovered or added, or new requirements are revealed along the way, these changes can throw a wrench in the pre-determined timeline for the project.

If, when one of these changes invariably arises, your Project Manager’s answer is just to work overtime until it’s completed, your PM might be an empty suit.

A good PM approaches a change in scope, timeline, or budget with creative solutions, such as reorganizing tasks, priorities, and dates in order to still provide quality results, even in a newly defined project environment. They ensure that the ramifications of changes in scope are communicated to the proper stakeholders to ensure everyone understands the implications of project change.

They Don’t Clearly Define the Expected Results from their Team

A Project Manager who does not make the expected results crystal clear for their team is a Project Manager who is more likely to micromanage and change priorities frequently. A lot of times, someone who is domineering and micromanages does not have a full grasp on what results they need from their team and when. Then, when it’s apparent that something is needed ASAP, they put unnecessary pressure on their team to provide that result immediately.

Being organized and clearly expressing expectations is the job of any PM worth their salt. They need to work with individuals on the project team to understand what the expectations are and how results will be applied throughout the project.

They Don’t Want to Learn About the Project

Have you ever worked with a Project Manager who, upon telling them about a problem that needs to be addressed, responded with, “Well, I’m not technical; just get it done?” This kind of hands-off approach indicates that your PM is not interested in having a better understanding of the project holistically. Or, even more egregiously wrong, not interested in expanding the horizons of their knowledge within a given domain.

A Project Manager should be invested in the project, and wanting to learn about every aspect is an indicator that they are invested in the process and outcome.

They Are Not Part of the Team

If your Project Manager sees themselves as separate from the project team, then they are a Project Manager in name only. A PM should be invested in the project and consider themselves a part of the team, not just someone with a role in the project. A good leader works with their team to accomplish a goal instead of just telling them how to get their work done. If your Project Manager doesn’t care enough to be invested in the project, then they are probably just an empty suit.

Do you have an eCommerce project that requires an involved, passionate Project Manager? Contact our team of eCommerce experts to get started.

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