Is your Labrador smarter than your PM?

An article called My Dog is Smarter Than Your Project Manager by Brad Egeland caught my eye when I was skimming new project management articles to read. I immediately thought, how rude! Aside from the outlandish comment about his Labrador being smarter than some project managers (I am certain that could not be true) I get author’s point and he had some good words of wisdom for project managers as well. Brad listed three best practices for project mangers to follow:

  1. Stay on top of the project schedule – Conduct weekly meetings to get the status update on your team and revise the project schedule daily.
  2. Manage the scope well – The scope serves as a basis for keeping everything else on track well like the project timeline, budget, and keeping the project as profitable as possible.
  3. Communicate – That means listening well, too…don’t forget that. Conduct meetings, follow-up afterwards with notes, keep project team informed at all times, and do the same for senior management.

Brad also brought up some things that I could relate to. Those moments where your project manager does not seem to be listening or grasping what the group is saying. Additionally, when they suggest things that are completely out of left field like they don’t get what’s going on at all. I can certainly relate to that at work right now. Our project manager in my department does keep up on the schedule, even when I’m not sure if we should be because of how our last meeting ended. It’s probably best he stays on schedule though or else we wouldn’t accomplish anything. He has been lacking at managing the scope because he has not been able to redirect our meetings back to the scope whenever they get off track. For example, we are converting our paper employee files to electronic, so we’re implementing a new software called m-files to replace our outdated/inefficient paper file system. Several times our compensation and benefits manager, who we all respect greatly on this project, has come into the meetings that should just be about the employee file and he has taken it so far out of scope into a whole philosophical debate about our shared drive in the office that I don’t think our project manager knows how to rein him in.

Communication is something that our project manager could improve on too. We receive too many emails from him all around 5-5:30 PM, very last minute, the night before a big meeting at 9 am the next day. So I’ll end up reading it on my phone upset that he didn’t email me that a few hours earlier! We are using SharePoint as a way of editing files, and he could clean up the entire thing a large amount so that we weren’t spending half our time trying to find the current version of whatever document were working on either.

Regardless of all my minor complaints about my project manager’s work style, I do not think that a dog is smarter than him! I am impressed with his skills, how far he’s gotten us, and his enthusiasm about the project. His positivity is the only thing that keeps me engaged in this project.

Have you been in a project where you thought so little about your project manager that you think they could be replaced by a dog? Or have you known anyone who was so upset with their project manager that they would think the same as Brad?

4 thoughts on “Is your Labrador smarter than your PM?

  1. Oh, Jen, how I wish I could answer “no” to your questions and imagine all team members in a project just getting along! I am not sure if the word “smarter” is the appropriate word as maybe “more reasonable” or “more consistent.” Let’s compare a couple scenarios. If you feed your dog at the same time every day, you have set an expectation to the dog and the dog will tell you if you miss that expectation. If you set a weekly meeting with your project manager, and you expect that person to attend, then the project manager will let you know when they are unable to attend, right? Well, in theory, that would be great, but in reality it may not always happen. Communication is the missing connection (explain why the project manager cannot attend), and in my work experiences, I struggle most with project managers who are not consistent in the communication. I do agree that going to the “dog” level is pretty rude, but, there are some really smart dogs out there (ha ha)!

  2. Great article, Jen! The title was so catchy so it was hard to pass up. I’ve been unfortunate to work on a couple of project teams where I shared a similar feeling as the author. The project leads were so very much stuck with their old ways of leading an assignment that it reminded me of the saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. It was frustrating to keep reiterating that their old school methods are no longer relevant or efficient. As a result the project took an additional time to complete (some phases are still not even wrapped up) and all of the extra work and longer hours were at the expense of the employees doing all of the work. Next time I will think twice before agreeing to be a part of these large scale boarding implementations

  3. Jen, your title certainly caught my eye! Personally, I have been lucky to work with great individuals and have never wanted to reply the project manager with a dog! However, I think some of my friends would have happily made the switch in their work environments. From their explanations, most of the time it seemed to be due to a lazy project manager. They both explained that the project manager couldn’t be bothered to provide explanations, keep everyone up to date, or prioritize pending items. Instead they spent all of their time delegating. While delegation is an important aspect of a project manager position, the project manager is still ultimately responsible and should try to keep the project on schedule and help others succeed.

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