Project Management

10 signs that you aren't cut out to be a project manager


You've all seen top 10 lists of the best traits of a project manager or the top 10 skills of a project manager. However, project management is not for everyone. Many people have some of the traits to be a good project manager, but they also have many traits that make them a bad fit for the position.Here's my list of indications that you may not be well suited to be a project manager. Note: These are not in any ranked order.

Note: This information is also available as a PDF download.

#1: You are a poor communicator

It is said that more than 50% of a project manager's time is spent in some aspect of communication. This includes meetings, status reporting, e-mails, phone calls, coordinating, talking to people, and completing documentation. Some studies have shown that verbal and written communication takes up 80% of the job. If you are not an effective communicator (and you don't care to be), don't go down this path.

#2: You don't work well with people

If you prefer to stay in your office and focus on your own work, you probably don't have the collaborative ability to be a good project manager. Good project managers need to spend a lot of time with clients, stakeholders, and team members.

#3: You prefer the details

Many people like to work on the project details. We need people like that. But when you are a project manager, you must rise above the details and become more of a delegator and coordinator. You must rely on others for much of the detailed work when you are a project manager.

#4: You don't like to manage people

You don't have much of a project if you're the only resource. If you want to be a good project manager, you need to be able to manage people. You will not have 100% responsibility for people, but you will need to show leadership, hold them accountable, manage conflict, etc. Some project managers say they could do a much better job if they did not have to deal with people. If that's how you feel, project management is probably not for you.

#5: You don't like to follow processes

Yes, I know no one wants to be a slave of processes. But you need good processes to be effective as your projects get larger. If you don't want to follow good project management processes, you are not going to get too far as a manager.

#6: You don't like to document things

Of course, all things in moderation. I am not proposing that you have to love documenting to be a good project manager. But you can't hate it, either. Many aspects of project management require some documentation, including status reporting, communication plans, scope changes, and Project Charters.

#7: You like to execute and not plan

When a client gives you a project, what is your first inclination? If your first thought is to get a team together to start executing the work, you probably don't have a project management mindset. If you do not want to spend the appropriate amount of time to make sure you understand what you are doing, you are probably not cut out to be a project manager.

#8: You prefer to be an order taker

If you think your job is to take orders from the customer and execute them, you may not be a good project manager. Project managers need to provide value on a project, including pushing back when the client is asking for things that are not right. If the client raises a request that is out of scope, you also need to invoke the scope change management process. If your reaction to scope change is saying, "Yes sir, we'll do it" instead of going through the scope change management process, project manage is going to be a struggle for you.

#9: You are not organized

People who have poor personal organization skills and techniques usually do not make good project managers. If you're going to manage multiple people over a period of time, you need to be well organized to make sure that everyone is doing what he or she needs to do as efficiently as possible.

#10: You think project management is "overhead"

No one can feel good about their job if they think the work they perform is not value-added. Good project managers understand the value of their work, and they understand their work will result in a project coming in on time and on budget with a good experience for the client and the project team. If you think the work associated with project management is overhead and non value-added, you're probably not the right person to be a project manager yourself.

Editor's Picks