Are you burning out your project managers?

She resigned. She said she was fed up working 70-80 hours a week. She had little work life balance.

This was a story told to me by a friend. No she was not a project manager but I had listened to similar stories in the build up to Christmas.

These stories came from project managers who were, in my words; demotivated. They were working excessive hours, and had received little or no recognition from senior managers for the effort and energy put in.

I asked one person what they were going to do about working the long hours described. There is little I can do came the reply. It was clearly noticeable this person felt dis-empowered.

I’m not too sure if you have ever been (even unknowingly) in a game of rescue. This is where you suggest a solution to a problem someone has. They reply with an excuse why not to take up your suggestion. You come back with another suggestion, same response. Another suggestion and the same response etc.

I decided not to play this game with those I met. I asked a question instead: what do you think you can do about it? Interestingly they started to look at the possible solutions themselves:

  • put onto the risk register the long hours and possibility of burn out – by the project manager and the project team
  • discuss at the next project board the resourcing issues and the impact of not getting the extra resources you need – longer delivery date for example
  • saying no (I did say that saying no must be backed up with some positive suggestions as to how to solve the situation)
  • put in a change request for a change of delivery date , more resources, higher budget (this suggestion was made tongue in cheek)

But the key point made to me was that if the organisation does not know you are working these long hours then the project manager needs to take some action to ensure they do.

So, are you burning out your project managers or are you a burnt out project manager? If yes, what are you going to do about it?

As for my friend who started this off? She is so much more relaxed and said that the organisation did nothing to support her. She walked with her feet and the organisation lost a very good person.

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2 Responses to Are you burning out your project managers?

  1. Pingback: Are you burning out your project managers? | #PMChat

  2. Sky Soldier says:

    Unless a worker has reached stage 4 or 5 of the 6 stages of “burn out” they really can’t identify with the risks or associative side effects. Executives, Managers, Supervisors of employeed carring an overwhelming workload, coupled with personal life issues (home, marriage, school, personal interests, and other relationships) will succumb to the stressors and some may not recover for a long time. The emotional and mental debilitation can and does “do a person in” through burnout. Some just quit their jobs out of frustration and lack of support by their managers. A side effect is loss of motivation and incentives of co-workers as well. There’s no statistic that I’ve come across which measures the cost to the business/organization of this issue. Actually, I have included the poor tracking of human resource/asset and their allocation to projects and normal work responsibilities as a issue and a risk on projects… with little to no reaction by management/executives… other than their unwarranted expectation of “just get it done”.

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