Tech & Work

10 signs you may not be cut out for project management

If you're thinking about pursuing a career in project management but you're not sure it's the right path, consider this list of signs that might point you in a different direction.

You've no doubt 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 may also have qualities that make them a bad fit for the position.

Here's a list of indications that you may not be well suited to be a project manager. If you decide they don't apply to you and you're hoping to launch a PM career, the resources at the end of this article can help you get started.

Check out this free ebook for a look at other IT job roles to help you decide if they're a good fit for you.

1. You're a poor communicator

By some estimates, more than 50% of a project manager's time is spent in some aspect of communication. This includes meetings, status reporting, emails, phone calls, coordinating, talking to people, and completing documentation. Some studies have even suggested that verbal and written communication takes up 80% of the job. If you're not an effective communicator (and you don't care to be), you probably shouldn'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 may not have the collaborative ability to be a good project manager. Effective project managers need to spend a lot of time with clients, stakeholders, and team members.

SEE: Projectmanager resume template: A framework for highlighting your skills andachievements (Tech Pro Research)

3. You prefer the details

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

4. You don't like to manage people

You don't have much of a project if you're the only resource. To be a good project manager, you need to be able to manage people. You won't have 100% responsibility for staff members, 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 didn't 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

No one wants to be a slave to 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.

SEE: How to build a successful project manager career (free TechRepublic PDF)

6. You don't like to document things

You don't 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 immediate inclination? If your first thought is to get a team together to start executing the work, you may not have a project management mindset. If you don't want to spend enough time to be sure you understand what you're doing, the role of project manager is likely a bad fit for you.

8. You prefer to be an order taker

Project managers need to provide value on a project, including pushing back when the client is asking for things that aren't right. If the client raises a request that's out of scope, you need to invoke the scope change management process. If your reaction to scope change is saying, "Yes, we'll do it" instead of implementing scope change management, project management is going to be a struggle for you.

SEE: Project manager jobs: What employers are really looking for (ZDNet)

9. You aren't organized

People who have poor personal organization skills and techniques usually don't make good project managers. If you're going to manage multiple people over a period of time, you have to be organized so you can ensure that everyone is doing what they should be doing 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 doesn't add value. 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 doesn't provide value, you might not be the right person for the project manager job.

Are you building a career in project management? These resources can help

Your thoughts

If you're a project manager, what advice would you give to those considering that role or who are just starting out? Share your advice and experiences with fellow TechRepublic members.

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Image: iStock/shironosov

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