People with technical backgrounds don’t make good project managers (in my opinion). Why? Because they are usually way too focused on the technical aspects of the situation to be really ‘managing’ the total project or program.
I have seen this time and time again. IT techies, Engineers, people with very strong analytical and specific knowledge focus, haven’t had the training or assistance required to manage and so struggle with a lot of the people management side of what it is to be a PM.
If they undertake training for certification might it help? Maybe, but I still consider that they have a different way of processing and viewing information (in a fantastic way, which is why they are good at the technology or engineering aspects), but just not good project managers.
The other key thing that occurs is the focus. These technically focused people have a discipline that they are good at whether its hardware, programming in a language, hydraulics, or civil engineering. This means that they generally find it difficult to grasp the overall end to end picture of the project, without getting too buried in the details.
Don’t get me wrong details are good, but there is a limit. You need people with this detailed focus on a project. My personal opinion is that a Project Manager needs to be able to manage all facets of the project; have the ability to discuss how things are fitting together, developing in each of the streams that are involved in the project.
In a construction project for example they must be able to talk to all of the different work areas with understanding and adaptability. If they are too focused on their own area of expertise there is more risk of the project not being managed adequately.
Do yourself a favour and if you are one of the technical stream leads who has been promoted into the role of Project Manager, go and undertake the training required to fill in the gaps in your knowledge. Those areas that you haven’t had experience in, so that you feel more competent at managing the entire project.
Written by Karen Munro