Learning from the Negative

The above text described and briefly discussed twenty positive attributes of a Project Manager. A study of the leadership characteristics of American Project Managers [5.1] explored significant aspects of effective PMs, but also looked at factors that contribute to making a PM ineffective. These factors give us some insight into what the current or prospective PM needs to avoid where and whenever possible. At times, we learn more from the negative than we do from a long list of positives. Thus, the top five negative factors for the PM are, with the top-listed item the worst:

• Sets a bad example for the team

• Does not have sufficient technical expertise

• Is a poor communicator

• Is a less than acceptable motivator

Thus, if these problems have been related to issues that you have had to struggle with as a PM, you probably would do well to commit yourself to making improvements in these areas. If you do not do so, you may well be on the road to failure as a PM.

In addition to the above personal attributes that a PM might have, the cited study [5.1] also explored organizational factors that had a negative effect upon the effectiveness of the PM. These factors are, with the most negative listed first:

• Lack of the commitment and support of top management

• Overall resistance to change

• A reward system that is inconsistent

• Reactive behavior instead of planning in advance

• Insufficient resources

The implication of the above listing is that if you, as a PM, find yourself in an organization that exhibits these types of behavior patterns, you have an increased likelihood of getting into trouble. It also may be that efforts you put forward toward solving these types of organizational problems may serve you and others in good stead. However, for a PM to be the force behind the solution of rather large organizational problems is a rather daunting task.

Finally, and in relation to the same study cited above, we can look at reasons why projects may tend to experience problems in terms of completion within budget and schedule. The top five reasons identified, with the most cited at the top of the list, are:

• Tools to manage the project in a systematic manner are not employed.

• The customer/client is slow to respond.

• Decisions and corrective actions are not taken in a timely manner.

• Interorganizational communication is poor.

Here again, the above items provide a ''view of the negative'' that might be helpful to the project triumvirate in terms of trying to increase the chances of success.


The effective PM knows himself or herself. Such a person has a level of awareness of tendencies toward certain types of behavior and is sensitive to the behavior patterns of others. To some people, it is not difficult to achieve this type of sensitivity and understanding. To others, ''knowing oneself'' is an alien concept. However, it is possible to gain a better understanding through processes of self-evaluation and taking the time to examine one's behavior in a variety of situations. This yields a keener sense of self-awareness, which is always helpful to a PM. By doing so, it becomes easier and easier to deal with problem people and problem situations, both of which improve the likelihood of success. In this section, we explore a few formal procedures that the PM or the prospective PM (or CSE) can employ in order to carry out a rudimentary self-evaluation.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment