Project Managers dont get support

A Project Manager should be able to handle anything and everything that happens in line with their role of managing the delivery of a project. They shouldn’t need support or help, as they have the skills and resources to enable them to do the job.

What do you think of my statement?

I have sat and watched this week and pondered this very question.  Why?  Because I don’t believe for one minute that Project Managers get the right support.

What is missing for a Project Manager to have the ‘right’ support:

Missing Executives or Sponsors

In my previous post I spoke about missing Executive or project Sponsors.  These are key people that need to be there to support the Project Manager.  After all, the Project Manager is working for them; delivering for their business and to there business requirements.  It is really important that Executives/Sponsors are there to trouble shoot and escalate issues for their Project Manager.  This is especially so, for example, if the Project Manager is not getting what they need from the IT team, if the project is a software build.

Team members that work against the Project Manager, not with them

  • Business Analysts that don’t deliver
  • Project Coordinators that don’t follow up and monitor
  • Developers that don’t communicate
  • Stream Leads that hide and don’t manage their teams delivery

Each of these people play a key role in supporting the Project Manager in delivering.  Whether it’s delivering project reporting, monitoring deliverables and tracking against the schedule; defining the requirements, or use cases, and monitoring that what is being delivered is exactly what should be delivered – at the fine grained level of detail that the Project Manager may not necessarily understand.  One would hope they do, but if the project is large, then they may not and so they need to be able to trust that their team will work with them and support them 100%.

Program Managers that don’t provide support and guidance

Program Managers should be providing support and mentoring to a Project Manager.  They are there to monitor at the overall program perspective, yes, but if they are not supporting and mentoring each of the Project Managers individually, then they aren’t doing their job (from my perspective).  Program Managers, are Program Managers because of their level of knowledge and expertise in project delivery and so they are important people and should be aiming to mentor and support Project Managers.

Project Management Office (PMO) staff being too focused on box ticking

The staff in a PMO can play a very supportive role to a Project Manager by assisting them with lessons learned information, as well as informing them of available resources, capabilities that they see are available from across the broader business.  They can also support the Project Manager with validation of reporting, and asking pertinent questions that can help in finding answers to problems, rather than sitting in the role of governance for the sake of governance.

What is the hidden cost of this on the project?

  • Poor project management – the Project Managers ability to really ‘manage’ the project will suffer if they feel as if they are not supported, especially if there are more than one of these groups listed above not supporting them.  Imagine how different it would feel for a Project Manager to have ALL of these groups fully supporting them.
  • Project Manager feeling undervalued – this leads on from the first point, in that at a person level the Project Manager will not go out on a limb and perform above and beyond, when/if it’s needed, because they feel that it’s not worth it – due to the lack of support they are receiving.
  • Poor relationships – A Project Manager will not build strong relationships, especially where they are needed.  Trust and feeling as though they are being supported will fully support the building of stronger relationships.
  • Stress leave or unplanned absences – A Project Manager may end up taking time off, which any organisation doesn’t want, and this in itself adds additional cost to the project.

It is therefore worth ensuring that your Project Manager is fully supported.  Not only will they benefit, but in the long run the business will also.


Written by Karen Munro