Why there are so many jokes about Project Managers?


Why I hear so often from developers that project managers they work with are the least educated and know next to nothing about the work their employees do? I can’t even decide who is the least respected by developers – managers or QAs. Of course, when I am talking to my teams I hear jokes only about QAs…But who knows what happens when I leave the room? 🙂
It seems that we constantly pass over qualified people for promotion and somehow get a lot of terrible idiot project managers. How that can be?

How you can become a PM?

You was not dreaming to become a project manager when you was a child. You rather wanted to be a surgeon or astronaut. But here you are – project manager. How you became a PM?

To many being a PM mean: you were not good enough in your field to be a developer,  so now you are a manager. Moreover – through politics and self-inflation, you find ways to take credit for the hard work done by others. Not giving you a credit of the team’s respect, yes?

On the other hand, if you were a really amazing developer and then you was promoted to be a manager – there are low chances you would be adored by the team too. Because you would probable be their pain in the ass – there is the big chance your soft skills are very poor. And you can’t get rid of making the architecture decisions and “saving the planet” by rewriting the code of these “stupid monkeys” over weekend.

So, the Peter principle fits here too – “managers rise to the level of their incompetence.” That is why you see so many incompetent managers around you.

“Those who can’t do, teach.” (George Bernard Shaw)

“… And who can’t teach – manages.” (my colleagues)

PMs education

The major secret PMs surrounding you can hide from your eyes is that they really don’t know how to do their job. Do you know many PMs who studied their profession? Try at least guess in which university you can get a degree of project management? Major part of the PMs you come across do not have the basic knowledge of the profession, they are coming from developers, QAs, BAs and people who promoted them thought they they will get all necessary knowledge just as addition to their new title.


And, moreover, a lot of companies (especially outsourcing) are not investing in the manager’s education. They want to get the ready-made specialists or “hey, that team-lead looks confident, let’s make him a new PM”.

So, next time you think that PM seems to be not competent  – you are probably right.


And that is ok to work with not competent people – as they learn, grow and become better (remember about QA’s? ^_^) . But the problem with PMs is that they require respect from the team members (as they are the formal leaders!).  Becoming PM is somehow considered to be “the next step on the career ladder” while it is just a step in the different direction. Management is completely different from engineering and you need the other set of skills to develop.

You need to be a very good project manager to get the respect of the team, as the expectations of you are very low when you enter the team. You can hear often “Managers are doing nothing. We are doing the real work.” And a lot of managers want to prove that developers, who say this are wrong. But they use very strange techniques – like “showing who is the boss”, “proving developers they are the laziest creatures and I know they can work 2 times faster”, “master of delegation” etc.

Everything is the project – that is the statement they teach you during the PMs trainings. You should be focused on the result. But the perspective many PMs have is the following: they are committed first to the process, and their status in the process, not the output. The result is that most of the world thinks of project management as boring.

Masters of tortures

The one more reason there are so many of bad PMs around you – there are too loud. So you just notice them. There are many bad developers, but you should be the really exceptional one to make all the team suffer. But if you are an awful PM you can make the whole team, several teams, up to 100 people suffer easily!


PM is building the team culture

Representative of the team role

The one more reason for such a high hate rate is that PMs are usually declare that they are caring and protecting their teams, but when it comes to the missing deadlines. Team becomes in charge of everything and has to work harder. Not “I failed with planning” but “they are so slow”.  My favorite is – “We can’t fit the budget, so I reduced your estimations N times”. What??? Where is my sword???!!!

goodmanagerPM starts acting as the “client’s agent” when it is profitable for him and comes back to the “buddy” style when the crisis is over.  Isn’t it better to be consistent in your role and don’t take any of the sides except the side of the project?


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