I have seen many IT Infrastructure Project Managers being replaced on a project. Actually the project was not in the IT Infrastructure domain but a lot of IT infrastructure work was needed. The Project Director (who was a SME and not coming form a project management background) blamed on the IT Infrastructure PMs all the delays in infrastructure work and got rid of them one by one.
In reality the PMs were not incompetent but simply was impossible to deliver on time. They were contractors working with an IT Infrastructure department and having no formal authority over the IT Infrastructure resources. The department had a lot of work and was unable to deliver on time for all the projects. Still the Project Director did not understand that and was keeping the IT PMs responsible for all the delays.
Even if the IT PMs had had formal authority over the IT Infrastructure resources it still hadn't been possible to deliver on time because of the volume of work that was too high both on projects and on operations.
In my opinion in many cases it is hard to determine if the PM is responsible or not for the fact that the team is not delivering. From my experience PMs often have limited control over the ability of the team to deliver and too often stakeholders have unrealistic expectations from them. In the end many end up being just scapegoats. Saving Changes...
As a PM with only a few years experience, I had to dismiss a team member who was trying to be a PM as well, instead of doing the job they were assigned.
I was leading a set of sub-teams developing technical technical training for new engineering software. The problem individual was supposed to support but was instead trying to manage the individual sub-teams themselves. They were completely incompetent, it was very disruptive to everyone else, and they were all coming to me asking for help.
I asked the disruptive member to help work with me personally coordinating all the teams, but they insisted that they had to lead and couldn't help me do my boring job. After a discussion with both my own manager and theirs, I was instructed that if they would not follow my directions I had to tell them to return back to their home office across town. That is normally a job for the functional manager.
After another attempt to try and get them to play nicely with the others by getting the teams together and clarifying roles, the individual revolted in front of everyone, and I was forced to take them aside and tell them to return.
In retrospect, trying to clarify roles in a group setting so as not to single anyone out had the complete opposite affect I hoped for, but I had no training in this sort of thing. It was an extremely unpleasant situation all around. Saving Changes...
I have seen PM been replaced due to the inability to lead the team and provide the necessary to succeed.
I have also seen PMs been moved to another group, to avoid the "firing" process. Saving Changes...
I would also like to add that many PMs lack domain knowledge and as such they don't really understand what the team members are doing.
If you don't have good domain knowledge you can't really lead a team as you don't have the knowledge to give direction and work related instructions to the team members. In such cases it is not fair to dismiss a PM for his inability to lead the team since you appointed him without having domain knowledge.
I can give a better example on why a PM should be removed. In a software development project the team did a great job and delivered what the customer wanted but the company that delivered the project suffered a major loss Why? Because the PM did not monitor the requests the customer had made and did not raised change requests for them. The developers did not care an delivered what the customer had asked even if most of the work was off scope.
Many PMs are obsessed with leading the team but in reality they don't lead the team but just track, report and raise issues and escalate as needed. These PMs don't lead teams because they lack domain knowledge.
In my opinion the evaluation of a PM should not be centered on leading the team but more on things such as managing the scope, tracking, reporting, raising issues, facilitating the decision making process at all levels (not just at the team level), etc.
The fact that the team does not deliver does not necessarily mean that the PM is incompetent. Maybe the team members are incompetent and the PM can't replace them. Or the expectations the stakeholders have are unreasonable. Saving Changes...
Yes seen it a lot. But not because of incompetence. A previous company I worked for regularly removed PM's when the heat came to close to management. In one case I requested that they provide a PM with help because of the workload and the fact that his wife was going through a difficult pregnancy. They terminated his contract :(
There are two functions that can expect to receive heat when things go south - the PM and the BA. Sometimes it is justified but more often than not it is more a matter of convenience. Saving Changes...
I have seen this. The most common root-causes have been as follows:
- Excellent soft-skills, promoted to incompetence due to not understanding the big picture or project
- Terrible leadership skills, loses the trust of the team
- Inability to inform and communicate risks, issues, and the headlines without misleading accuracy of health
status and contingency
1 reply by Adrian Carlogea
Sep 29, 2019 5:33 PM
Very often PMs don't have domain knowledge and don't really understand in details the work the team members are doing. This dramatically impairs the ability of the PM to lead the team and to earn the trust and respect of the team members.
If the PM is not an experienced SME in the project's domain (relevant line of work) then you should not punish him for not being able to lead the team. When you assign a PM that is not a SME you should be aware of this problem and should only evaluate him on the things that he can really do.