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Why Project Managers Are Not Respected ?
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Ali Zaidan Projects Leader| Prime Source Group Dammam, Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia
Here are eight opinions I found repeated in various forms on the Internet, over and over and over.

1. Project managers are generally perceived as being in their role primarily because they don’t have the required technical skills to do development and similar activities.

2. Project managers do not create software systems and are therefore often seen somewhat as sycophants who ride along on the ability of others.

3. Project managers tend to vastly overstate the importance of the project-peripheral artifacts they produce (schedules, endless e-mail communications, and so on).

4. Project managers are seen as having no unique skills; because most of project management consists of communication and organization activities, there’s a strong perception that project management is just common sense. So project managers are easily replaceable.

5. In a technical environment, project managers constantly ask, “give me more respect” rather than actively engaging in activities (such as learning more about programming languages and technologies) that would actually generate more respect from their colleagues.

6. Project managers aren’t entirely necessary. For example, in a startup company you can live without an extra project manager but you can’t live without developers. Put another way, in a pinch, developers can act as project managers but project managers can’t do development.

7. Technically skilled employees, especially developers, are constant, active learners. But project managers’ skillsets are essentially static. Therefore there’s little difference between a PM two years out of school and one with ten years of experience.

8. Because women are over-represented in project management, there’s a belief that most are hired to fill HR gender quota goals rather than on the basis of ability.

What do you think ???
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Sergio Luis Conte Helping to create solutions for everyone| Worldwide based Organizations Buenos Aires, Argentina
With all my due respect, I think that all above has no sense. About respect is up to you not to your organizational role or position.
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1 reply by Ali Zaidan
Sep 22, 2017 5:13 PM
Ali Zaidan
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Why I mentioned this topic is because I witnessed a discussion talking about it and I also faced a difficulty in an organization I used to work for before.

I was indirectly not respected when it comes to a technical aspect of the work , yes I am always asking the export , other than that I dont agree with other points that mentioned in the topic .

May be some of you might have experienced one point or another , and I would like to know how you managed to correct the perspective in people you worked with .
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Ali Zaidan Projects Leader| Prime Source Group Dammam, Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia
Sep 22, 2017 4:57 PM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
...
With all my due respect, I think that all above has no sense. About respect is up to you not to your organizational role or position.
Why I mentioned this topic is because I witnessed a discussion talking about it and I also faced a difficulty in an organization I used to work for before.

I was indirectly not respected when it comes to a technical aspect of the work , yes I am always asking the export , other than that I dont agree with other points that mentioned in the topic .

May be some of you might have experienced one point or another , and I would like to know how you managed to correct the perspective in people you worked with .
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Diana Ballesteros Project Management Specialist| EMERSON Isolation - Australia Australia
Hi Ali,
There is certainly a lot of things that makes no sense there.

I believe that what is not seen is the fact that everyone is at some stage a project manager and it doesn't even have to be related to work. Everyone at some stage wants to do little projects at home, with the family or with friends, then they work through the "how to", "by when", "how much time and money needed" and so on. Now why to I mention that?, well when other people is put into that mindset I have found they start to realize the importance of what we call Project Manager, mainly because (I believe) the discussion is taken to a personal level, what if they didn't act as Project Managers of those little personal projects?.

If we move the discussion then to a technical level, the set of skills a PM needs to gain and improve and keep constantly working on are huge; not only do we need to have an incredibly capacity to identify relevant information, plan, perform risk analysis, develop contingenty plans, deal with human factor on the other team members, but also keep an eye on the budget side of the project while trying our best to make it all happen within a reasonable time frame. As you see there; is not the"technical knowledge" what is only adding value there, but how we play and shuffle with different areas of knowledge in order to take a project to completion.

Indeed, the topics you mention do lack of sense as Sergio said. But I think it could be attributed to specific environments rather than general concepts. For example, in some areas PM's are seen as just planners... or even just expeditors; however it is with example and execution that PM's can bring those beliefs down. There will always be some rejection specially in regions or businesses where this concept of project management has just been included, but as project are executed and completed the advantages of having a PM start showing up. We cannot expect to change some else's thinking overnight, in fact we cannot expect to change them at all. Facts and results usually speak by themselves but takes time and at the end it is always up to the individuals to either accept or reject the information they are presented with. In that regards, what I try to say is rather than focusing on trying to change other people image of PM, we better focus on execute those projects the best we can do, focus on what you have influence on...

Now it also depends on the specific person as well; nothing can really be generalized. As individuals is our own responsibility to gain respect within the business or the environment; as a female Mechanical Engineer in Oil and Gas industry, it was my responsiblity to deal with rejection and still show how much value I can add to a team, either as a team player or leader. Is a personal choice in reality; and that also applies to active learning. The desire of learning even after earning your degree or completing your studies can be attributed only to yourself and not to the role you have.
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1 reply by Ali Zaidan
Sep 22, 2017 7:23 PM
Ali Zaidan
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Hi Diana ,

Thank you for sharing your thoughtful perspective , it was fun to read ..
I know the value of a project management to an organization , I was just sharing one experience of mine and liked the idea of hearing what others think in regards to what other claims to think less of a Project Manger and believe me as long as you have the technical knowledge on a project you are working on plus having the project management skills you will have the highest respect from your superior and as a Senior Software developer unfortunately for me I got involved in working in a project management for an organizations in a different sectors :) and well , it is not that bad to learn about other sector too.


Again thank you , I really enjoyed reading your reply .
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Ali Zaidan Projects Leader| Prime Source Group Dammam, Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia
Sep 22, 2017 6:37 PM
Replying to Diana Ballesteros
...
Hi Ali,
There is certainly a lot of things that makes no sense there.

I believe that what is not seen is the fact that everyone is at some stage a project manager and it doesn't even have to be related to work. Everyone at some stage wants to do little projects at home, with the family or with friends, then they work through the "how to", "by when", "how much time and money needed" and so on. Now why to I mention that?, well when other people is put into that mindset I have found they start to realize the importance of what we call Project Manager, mainly because (I believe) the discussion is taken to a personal level, what if they didn't act as Project Managers of those little personal projects?.

If we move the discussion then to a technical level, the set of skills a PM needs to gain and improve and keep constantly working on are huge; not only do we need to have an incredibly capacity to identify relevant information, plan, perform risk analysis, develop contingenty plans, deal with human factor on the other team members, but also keep an eye on the budget side of the project while trying our best to make it all happen within a reasonable time frame. As you see there; is not the"technical knowledge" what is only adding value there, but how we play and shuffle with different areas of knowledge in order to take a project to completion.

Indeed, the topics you mention do lack of sense as Sergio said. But I think it could be attributed to specific environments rather than general concepts. For example, in some areas PM's are seen as just planners... or even just expeditors; however it is with example and execution that PM's can bring those beliefs down. There will always be some rejection specially in regions or businesses where this concept of project management has just been included, but as project are executed and completed the advantages of having a PM start showing up. We cannot expect to change some else's thinking overnight, in fact we cannot expect to change them at all. Facts and results usually speak by themselves but takes time and at the end it is always up to the individuals to either accept or reject the information they are presented with. In that regards, what I try to say is rather than focusing on trying to change other people image of PM, we better focus on execute those projects the best we can do, focus on what you have influence on...

Now it also depends on the specific person as well; nothing can really be generalized. As individuals is our own responsibility to gain respect within the business or the environment; as a female Mechanical Engineer in Oil and Gas industry, it was my responsiblity to deal with rejection and still show how much value I can add to a team, either as a team player or leader. Is a personal choice in reality; and that also applies to active learning. The desire of learning even after earning your degree or completing your studies can be attributed only to yourself and not to the role you have.
Hi Diana ,

Thank you for sharing your thoughtful perspective , it was fun to read ..
I know the value of a project management to an organization , I was just sharing one experience of mine and liked the idea of hearing what others think in regards to what other claims to think less of a Project Manger and believe me as long as you have the technical knowledge on a project you are working on plus having the project management skills you will have the highest respect from your superior and as a Senior Software developer unfortunately for me I got involved in working in a project management for an organizations in a different sectors :) and well , it is not that bad to learn about other sector too.


Again thank you , I really enjoyed reading your reply .
avatar
Eric Simms Senior Program Manager Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Here are my responses to the questions. I grouped the original questions together, then followed them with my response.

1. Project managers are generally perceived as being in their role primarily because they don’t have the required technical skills to do development and similar activities.
2. Project managers do not create software systems and are therefore often seen somewhat as sycophants who ride along on the ability of others.
3. Project managers tend to vastly overstate the importance of the project-peripheral artifacts they produce (schedules, endless e-mail communications, and so on).
5. In a technical environment, project managers constantly ask, “give me more respect” rather than actively engaging in activities (such as learning more about programming languages and technologies) that would actually generate more respect from their colleagues.

This perception is unfortunately well-deserved. I’ve seen a number of PMs in the Information Technology field who refuse to learn elementary technical concepts, so they can’t have discussions with their Technical staff about the projects they’re leading. These PMs overstate the importance of project-peripheral artifacts because they can’t make any valuable contributions to a project, so they must create ways to make others believe they’re invaluable to the project’s success. The only ones who usually see these artifacts are Executives who are even more technologically ignorant than the PMs. These Executives don’t understand project management either, so it is easy for these PMs to dazzle them with thick sheaths of documentation and fancy PowerPoint slides.
These PMs are sycophants who spend much more time schmoozing with Executives to advance their careers than meeting the needs of their project team. They are parasites because if the project is successful these PMs will readily take the credit, but if the project experiences delays due to their poor management the PMs blame the Technical staff. Many Executives don’t deign to talk directly to their Technical staff and only interact with the PM, making it frightfully easy for a PM to spin whatever tale s/he wishes. I get the impression that some Executives hire PMs to act as intermediaries to protect them from the technology that intimidates them. I’m not sure if this is true, but it would certainly explain a great many things.
PMs like this must demand respect from Technical people because they do nothing to earn it. I know from personal experience that Technical people will gladly respect any PM who makes their work more efficient, regardless of the PMs technical proficiency. If a PM only makes their lives more difficult without giving them anything in return, they will despise that person – and rightfully so.

4. Project managers are seen as having no unique skills; because most of project management consists of communication and organization activities, there’s a strong perception that project management is just common sense. So project managers are easily replaceable.
It’s true – project management is largely common sense, and given the uselessness of many PMs it’s no wonder they’re perceived as easily replaceable. My usual response to this concept is that while it’s true that anyone can do project management, not everyone wants to engage in all the intricate detail it takes to do project management well.

6. Project managers aren’t entirely necessary. For example, in a startup company you can live without an extra project manager but you can’t live without developers. Put another way, in a pinch, developers can act as project managers but project managers can’t do development.
Also true. A PM’s usefulness becomes more apparent as the project’s complexity increases. Most startups consist of a single straightforward project that’s basically 100% development work, so a PM usually isn’t needed.

7. Technically skilled employees, especially developers, remain constant, active learners. But project managers’ skillsets are essentially static. Therefore there’s little difference between a PM two years out of school and one with ten years of experience.
This is true if PMs don’t actively try to broaden their skills. We should always seek to find new ways to do our jobs better. I enjoy consulting because it gives me the opportunity to work in new industries and in different organizational environments, and I can then combine my experience to manage projects in unique ways that benefit all stakeholders.

8. Because women are over-represented in project management, there’s a belief that most are hired to fill HR gender quota goals rather than on the basis of ability.
I found this information at the link below. I’m not sure where the idea that women are overrepresented in the workplace came from.
https://www.pmi.org/learning/library/gende...e-dynamics-5609
“According to PMI's 2008 Membership Satisfaction Study, the gender breakdown of membership is 70% male and 30% female. In addition, in the results of PMI's 2008 Pulse of the Professional Survey, 32% of Project Management Professionals (PMPs®) are female and 68% male.1 Historically, project management has been a male-dominated discipline, and the relative absence of gender-related studies reflects this dominance (Mulenburg, 2002)...”
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Henry Hattenrath Deputy Project Manager-Gateway HTP NJT Package 3| Elecsys Engineering Group, PLLC New York, Ny, USA
In line with Diana and Eric, here is my input.

What do you think? All project team member need to know the roles, responsibilities, accountabilities and deliverables expected throughout the project.

Whether examples or actual comments, they are all perceptions on the project roles for Project Managers (PMs) and individual technical contributors on IT projects. The comments on PMs perceived by individual technical contributions reflect a lack of awareness. PM’s need to be aware of them and be prepared to mitigate and respond to them as they encountered throughout the project lifecycle – in this discussion an IT projects. The perceptions listed exist on all projects and they can be attributed to lack of knowledge of the roles of members on the project team for technical and managerial responsibilities, accountabilities and authorities. In several comments, it may simply be a lack of confidence by the PM.

While the PM is not a direct contributor to IT development, IT technical contributors need to be educated on the value the PM add to the project. The technical project deliverables/product requirements are covered in PMBOK knowledge area for scope (Chapter 5). But this is only one of the many areas where the PM is held accountable for project execution to achieve the goals and objectives encompassing scope, schedule, budget, quality and safety.

While the IT developers focus on their activities, the PM manages other PMBOK processes for initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling and closing, and covering knowledge areas for managing activities and documentation for processes (Chapter 3), integration (Chapter 4), quality (Chapter 8), human resources (Chapter 9), communications (Chapter 10), risk (Chapter 11), procurement (Chapter 12) and stakeholders (Chapter 13). And for construction domain, add management for safety/security (Chapter 13), environmental (Chapter 14), financial (Chapter 15) and claims (Chapter 16). Each area holds the PM solely accountable for project team performance in all areas including those directly related to the technical deliverables product.

Short of distributing the PMBOK to all project team members, the PM must ensure the project team is aware of the Project Management Plan. This PM deliverables, coupled with the Project Charter, defines all the roles, responsibilities, accountabilities and deliverables expected throughout the project. Team members, stakeholders, client representatives, funding partners, and PM oversight consultants need to be familiar with the PMs value to the project. By contributing equally and demonstrating the value, PMs will earn the respect of team members.

Additionally, many government funded projects require the value added services and documentation from PMs. Some of the documents the IT commenter is not aware are items they would otherwise be reluctant to produce ahead of their own product development deliverables, these include:
• Acting as the project’s president, CEO, CFO, CIO, chief engineer, and chief spokesperson
• Recording conversations, technical and management decisions and project changes
• Creating minutes for meetings on progress, financial health, schedule, risk, project/contract changes, etc...
• Packaging of contract and procurement documents
• Responding to numerous inquiries on the project from outside the core team including other PMs, government officials, politicians, and community leaders.
• Attending management meetings and providing written and verbal feedback to team members.
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Stéphane Parent Self Employed / Semi-retired| Leader Maker Prince Edward Island, Canada
The views you have shared are certainly not common in the North American companies I have worked with.

Having said that, I would not focus on trying to explain other people's opinions. They are just that: opinions. I would focus on demonstrating the power of project management through example, dedication and sharing.

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