Are You a Whining Project Manager or a Problem Solver?

It seems like some project managers (at least a vocal minority) like to whine about perceived shortcomings. It seems like some are more interested in identifying problems instead of solving them. examined the issue in a story called “Top Challenges Facing Project Managers.” It raised a variety of issues that project managers feel challenged by.
“So what factors contribute to these issues? The top culprit appears to be giving project teams work that has nothing to do with the project itself, according to a recent survey from Janco Associates,” said author Dennis McCafferty.
According to McCafferty, 180 project managers with at least one year’s experience took part in the Janco survey. ” …. there are an assortment of unrealistic expectations, time pressures, staffing shortfalls and inadequate tech resources, findings reveal. Clearly, IT projects need leadership that combines technology savvy with effective business-focused oversight to successfully navigate these hurdles,” he said.
A top challenge for project managers is budget issues. (After all, what manager wishes he or she wasn’t constrained by corporate finances?) There’s also the issue of administrative overhead, too.
The survey equates being overworked with toiling in a sweatshop. That’s a little extreme when one thinks of children working in clothing factories in Bangladesh. That kind of dramatic thinking could also explain why 51 percent of the project managers also feel understaffed. Here’s a tip. Don’t use words like “sweatshop” and you might get a more sympathetic hearing for more staff.
This statement also isn’t helping their cause: “47% of the project managers think they deal with too many fluctuations in tech specifications.” Flexibility is one of the keys of being a good project manager. Some 42 percent of the project managers also say change requests come in too fast.
James Bentham makes that point at He says, “Ask any experienced project manager and the first thing he will tell you is to plan for things to go wrong. Fluctuations, errors, bad planning judgment and incorrect assumptions about what is needed all come to play when the implementation process occurs.”
Bentham also says, “If the planning and budgeting phases did not account for contingencies or additional, unplanned needs, a project manager will then have to find other efficiencies in the project to make up the difference. This is where a good, seasoned manager becomes apparent because he will see the problem, adjust for it, and keep the project moving to completion.”
This next complaint sounds like a communications problem. (Then again most of these issues sound like communication problems.) About 40 percent of project managers say the lack of agreed-upon deadlines is a constant problem.
There are basically two types of projects: those done in partnership and those done for upper management. Partnerships should have agreed upon deadlines or it’s not a partnership. Nothing can be done when upper management changes deadlines. That’s just a fact of corporate life.
Slightly more than one in five project managers struggles with outdated technology. That circles back to the issue of budget in some cases. But it also goes full circle back to communications. Failing to express concerns about outdated technology and making a case for its replacement falls on the project manager.
Finally, somewhat surprisingly only one in 10 project managers feel hampered by staff turnover. That’s one benefit of ongoing slow expansion of business. There are less opportunities for staff, even highly trained IT staff, to move onwards and upwards to new employers.
As discussed in an earlier blog post, “5 Good Tips for New Project Managers,” listening to your team might reduce turnover. “Genuine listening has become a rare gift—the gift of time. It helps build relationships, solve problems, ensure understanding, resolve conflicts, and improve accuracy. At work, effective listening means fewer errors and less wasted time,” the article says.

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