November 08, 2006

Reasons Why Someone Would Want to Be a Project Manager/Team Leader

In my experience not all people have the same motivation for becoming team leaders and/or project managers. Their reasons may vary a great deal and often have significant impact on project outcome and especially team atmosphere.
To be honest, I didn't prepare 10, 13 or 39 reasons but I will try to remember as many as I can... Maybe later I can count them and change the title. ;)

I will also try to comment on particular motivating factors in respect to personal, project and company benefit. If the project benefits from something, this can only be temporarily - until the project is finished. Later, however, some people may quit their jobs and leave the company (as I did once, for example) because of project manager’s behavior. So in the long run, it is not a good thing for the company. Personal benefit covers the impact that a particular motivating factor has to both future professional carrier of project manager himself and the respect he will get from his colleagues in his later work.

"I'm the best developer around here so I have every right to lead others."
Project benefit: If this is a true statement, than it’s a positive thing to have someone who is skilled in technology. However, it does not at all guarantee that other necessary skills are present. On the contrary, they are often not present and this person doesn't realize it. If the statement above is not true then - oh, my God!
Company benefit: If this person annoys people wit his/hers management style, then they will try to avoid him/her on future projects. Not a good thing.
Personal benefit: This person can get respect from colleagues because of the technical knowledge but it's not necessarily so; it really depends on how he or she treats people and handles “level of project stress”.

"I want to organize things better and help people work without stress."
Project benefit: Better organization of project tasks. Higher probability that deadlines will be reached.
Company benefit: People who work on such projects have a chance to form a real team and work the best they can if manager succeeds at least partially in his/hers attempt.
Personal benefit: Respect of colleagues and possibly a successful project in ones record.

"No one can do it better than me, I have to sacrifice myself."
Project benefit: This person strongly believes that it is his/hers duty to take this responsibility. It is probable that he/she will do his/her best to finish the project.
Company benefit: Company can lose this employee eventually if it is extremely unwanted task to perform.
Personal benefit: If it is very stressful for an individual, than definitely can have very bad impact on personal life. Anxiety will not leave you when you go home and even on weekends.

"I want to be in charge."
Project benefit: If the person is a tyrant, project can have benefits. On the other hand, people will react and simply work slower and with less motivation. Some can leave in the middle of the project.
Company benefit: Sounds like a true leader? When it comes to knowledge-workers, I don't think so. Smart people don't want someone to "be in charge". At least not this way.
Personal benefit: One can tell his friends that he/she is in charge at work. ;)

"I want others to admire me."
Project benefit: I see no benefits for the project here.
Company benefit: People will notice this flaw in character, so to speak, and avoid this person in the future.
Personal benefit: Admiration is not won by simply wanting it to happen so forget about it (if this is your only motivating factor).

"I don't want to depend on others." or "I want to have the project under control."
Project benefit: This person will not expect much help from others. But that can also be bad: breaking a team atmosphere where everybody is dependent on one another.
Company benefit: Depends on other personal qualities.
Personal benefit: Can help self-esteem but may not win respect of colleagues.

"I don't want others to tell me what to do."
Project benefit: This person is not meant to lead knowledge-workers.
Company benefit: Same here.
Personal benefit: I don't see it.

"I want to get a raise."
Project benefit: This can only be a personal goal or, better to say, a consequence of well managed project. If it is the only motivating factor, than I don't know what the benefits would be.
Company benefit: None.
Personal benefit: See "Project benefit".

"I want to add something new to my resume."
Project benefit: Let's put it this way: if the project fails, one can still put in his/hers resume that he/she was a project manager. So there is not much of a guarantee that project will be a success.
Company benefit: Benefit is possible if the person is determined to add "project success" to his/hers resume. :)
Personal benefit: One can add that he/she was a project manager to his/hers resume. :))

"I want people throughout to company to know my name."
Project benefit: Might put pressure on the project that is not necessary.
Company benefit: People might try to avoid this project manager in the future, if they are to pressure with his/hers "glory". In reality, projects that people talk most about are the ones that are in deep trouble. The ones that are successful are unknown and their managers live in shadow.
Personal benefit: Can be significant if you ask people who are not actually working on the given project.

"I want to have a successful project and help my company."
Project benefit: Sometimes it can happen that a company had a few unsuccessful projects in a row. Individual person(s) might at that point have motivation to put their best into leading one project that will change things. Highly motivated person can transfer motivation to his/hers team members. Such a team can make wonders.
Company benefit: This positive attitude of one team can motivate others in the company to achieve better results in their field of work.
Personal benefit: One can get respect of colleagues and be a true member of a team. If it really helps the company, professional benefits might be significant.

"I have no motivation whatsoever."
Project benefit: Some people argue that in software development (and/or other areas) the best project managers or team leaders are those who don't want to perform this duty at all. I have to say I disagree with this because if someone doesn't want to do something, it will be very hard for him/her to move forward, learn new things and educate oneself. No one is perfect, and if you want to get better you have to be motivated. On the other hand, people will not be threatened by this persons and possibility of forming a real team is significant.
Company benefit: Formation of a team that can work on future projects with the same or better performances.
Personal benefit: One might get experiences, knowledge or find new interests which will change his/hers carrier or even perspective in life.


In most cases, people have more than one reason. Two bad reasons from the list above are, I think, enough to ruin any project. Let's hope most managers have at least one good reason!

1 comment:

Alwyn J George said...

Huh, quite an detailed analysis of people working in the software industry, probably i guess India. Team dynamics play a crucial part for a successfull project, which include motivation and commitment level of each player in the team. I felt most of your listed motivations where mis-interpretted reasons of individuals to be a project manager.