Project Management

Nobody Likes Being the Heavy

From the Strategic Project Management Blog
As an "accidental" project manager, it's very satisfying to contribute to the project management community online with anecdotes and stories I've picked up from my own experience. I hope you enjoy our daily conversation.

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Nobody Likes Being the Heavy


decision-making, empowering team members, project leadership, project management, project management fundamentals, project success, project teams, struggling projects, work management


I was speaking with a friend of mine recently who had just finished a really hard day. "Nobody likes me," she said. "I'm trying to keep an important project on track and it feels like everyone is avoiding me."

I think we've all experienced days like that. There are times when nobody on the project team likes the project manager much. It doesn't matter that she's trying to make sure the project everyone is working on is successful, they don't want to be reminded about what they haven't done or how others on the team are waiting for them to complete their part of the project so they can go forward.

I've given her my advice, but what do you do? How do you deal with team members that aren't pulling their weight or are putting the project in danger? Please submit your suggestions and we'll publish a list next week of the top ten ways to give your project team a kick in the pants (without coming across like Attilla the Hun).

Posted on: July 27, 2012 09:02 AM | Permalink

Comments (8)

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Joe Mooney Senior Technology Project Manager| Independent Consultant Oviedo, Fl, USA
I don't know where I first saw it, but I've often heard it said, "If everyone likes the Project Manager, he's not doing his job."

Vasoula Christoforides Project Manager Surrey, United Kingdom
Well its all about Team Work! - the PM can be seen as being authoritative figure! teams can resent this approach... therefore, treat your team with respect! trust them that they will fulfil their tasks on time ! too much chasing demonstrates mistrust! it is often lack of understanding therefore explain again and again what is expected from them... have frequent team meetings, let them know how they are doing! and praise good work. Difficult teams ! not pulling their weight! mmm! are they overworked! having too much to do ! this goes back to Resource Planning! Personally I do believe that teams want to be successful given the right tools and time to deliver... the Project Manager is overall responsible and sometimes the odd person may hinder the project from moving forward... look into it! and ask the right questions to determine what is going on... it can be redeemed!

Todd Williams President| eCameron Inc Camas, Wa, USA
Good PMs are disliked by about half of the extended project team at any given time. It is simply part of being a good PM--one being a leader.

The reason is relatively simple. As a leader, you are probably distributing decision making to as close to the issues as possible. By empowering your team to do this, the project runs more efficiently and faster. However, when your team comes to loggerheads (they cannot make the decision), they escalate it to you and you make do the deed. Almost by definition, half the people are not going to like that decision, or you. As time goes on the whole team does dislike you, just not at the same time. In the average you are doing fine as it comes out to less than half. If you cannot make a decision and escalate it yourself, then a little more than half of the team dislike the decision (the math does not work, these are people, not spreadsheets).

If you are not being a leader, you have an entirely different issue to deal with and the team hates you for another reason. Not to worry, we can all sharpen our saw on this one and should continually be looking for ways to improve our leadership skills.

Just remember, we are not working to gain friends in our projects, we are looking for project success. Friends come later as success is the best magnate for authentic ones.

Todd C. Williams

Dinah Young Project Manager / Software Asset Manager| Prince William County Springfield, Va, USA
When a manager wants everyone to like them they become ineffectual. They avoid conflict. They spend too much time trying to appease the team member that is causing problems. They foster resentment from the high performing members of the team. And it keeps the team in conflict with each other.

Mahalmadane Touré Engineer| National Headquarters of Geology and Mines of Mali (Bamako) Mali
Thanks for sharing.

David Quan Project Manager| Radiation Technology, Incorporation Suzhou, China, Mainland
Good discussion!

Luis Branco CEO| Business Insight, Consultores de Gestão, Ldª Carcavelos, Lisboa, Portugal
Dear Al
Interesting this reflection on the topic: "Nobody Likes Being the Heavy"

Thanks for sharing

What advice did you give her?

ravi gehlor Project Control specialist| Fluor Udaipur, Rajasthan, India
Well project manager should work as conductor of orchestra & make sure that instrument are running in harmony. To make orchestra effective project manager should set a initial beats that sets path forward.

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