“I did not sign up for this project management stuff.”

There I was in full flight during a project management course when someone said: “I did not sign up for all this project stuff.”

The person who made the comment was a graduate, had studied hard to become a professionally qualified solicitor within a company. He was effectively questioning why he was why he was involved in project management and on the course.

After a brief series of questions (from me) and answer session from him I established that he was part of a two major projects and had contributed enormously to build a business case for one of them. He enjoyed his work as a solicitor and he felt that he was being dragged into project management against his will.

It is important to mention that like many of the people we work with he was not involved full time in projects. Project management played a large part in his job.

The argument he was following was the same one many people have used when they start to get promoted into management roles; they leave behind their professional work. He felt uncomfortable; unsupported and could not see the context for project management.

Regular readers will note that I have written extensively about the role of senior managers. It is hardly surprising that people come up with comments such as the one made by the solicitor if senior managers do not discuss how the vision will become reality. How else is a corporate strategy to be delivered but through delivering projects which inevitably means professional staff getting involved in them.

I was able to convince this person and others of the real value of project management. He was going to go back and speak to his senior management and ask some important questions! 

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7 Responses to “I did not sign up for this project management stuff.”

  1. John Gough says:

    We would not expect a project manager to go on a course for a couple of weeks to become a lawyer, how is it that a solicitor can become a project manager in a week or so?

  2. Interesting that the company saw fit to put the solicitor on a training course – you don’t mention what kind of course it was – but I’m assuming a complete all singing all dancing project management course would be an overkill for someone like this. Is there anything in existence for people to attend that are not fully fledged deliverers of projects but need your “real value of project management” insight?

    Cheers Lindsay

  3. Dana says:

    We agree that project management is key to organization and success to a business. It is interesting, though, when people start more senior roles and aren’t the ones executing the plans anymore. A good project dashboard or overview report could help him understand how project management is helping those under him, even if he isn’t the one actually executing. Good story.

  4. Ron says:

    Many thanks to each of yourvery interesting points and questions. My response to each is shown below

    John: it is clear in all the companies we work in that professional staff are involved in the management and delivery of projects. Training them is a bonus to no training and making mistakes. The projects this group managed were not large scale change projects. They were small departmental projects which gave the individual and people involved in them a good insight into the project management processes.

    Lindsay: as mentioned above the group are involved in projects and need some skills and insights. We give course participants practical project management tools and techniques and it works. The feedback and results show that people deliver projects more effectively as a result.

    Dana: this person is a professional rather than a senior manager. He has become involved in this area because the department needs legal input into a series of projects. I think dashboard reports are a great idea however this is not quite at the level this person is at – yet! When he gets there, he will know more than many senior managers currently do

    Do come back with further thoughts.


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