Is a Project Manager role a thankless job?


I had an interesting discussion yesterday with some fellow project management practitioners.

The basis of the discussion “Is a Project Manager role a thankless job?”

We got the feeling that one of our fellow project management practitioners was having a bad time of it! He was seeking some encouragement.

He was right though. The role of project manager can be a thankless job. Unfortunately it is like any leadership position.

Everybody appears to seek the glory and praise when the project is doing well or succeeds. But when things aren’t going too well then the fingers start pointing. First to be pointed at are those in a leadership role. In the case of a project those fingers are targeted on the project manager. Irrespective of where the blame or responsibility for the issues rests. Project manager, as leader, has to be prepared to praise everyone else for the occasional successes and must be willing to “fall on one’s sword” when things get bad. The project manager must take it on the chin and move forward.

Unfortunately, project management, like leadership, is all too frequently a lonely position. One where you need to celebrate the small successes when you can. Where you learn, with experience, that sometimes you leave others to take the final credit and glory!

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3 responses to “Is a Project Manager role a thankless job?

  1. absolutely! It seems out of 100 trials and challenges you may solve, overt or conquer, the one item that may have deviated from process in order to deliver (with defect, on-time, on-budget with expected quality) is headlined and exaggerated in significance. There must be intelligent consideration and balance.

    • Hi Dan,
      It’s been a while; hope things have been good with you since you escaped Capital One UK.
      Good to see the “Is a Project Manager role a thankless job?” post resonated with you. Certainly from our mutual experience what you say is spot on.
      Unfortunately, achieving that balance requires objectivity and rational leadership/management. Happens, but sometimes it just boils down to peoples attitudes toward the project (or it’s people)
      Thanks,
      Neil

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