How incompetent project managers are created?

Project Manager role is typically the role in “template” based environments where a individual contributor transitions to the role of a manager. It is one of the most significant transition in the career of an individual. This post looks at the some of reasons for so many incompetent project managers.

  • Wrong hire:
    1. Domain knowledge vs PM competency: Like UX, technology and testing, project management is a discipline and requires certain competencies to manage a project. Unfortunately, most of companies lay undue emphasis on the domain knowledge instead of PM competencies while hiring a PM forgetting that domain knowledge can be very easily acquired or PM can take the help of the SME.
    2. Back-door hiring: I was in Hyderabad when I came across this phrase and was shocked to know the level of corruption in the large established companies. The modus operandi is that the candidate desperate for a job but without the required qualifications or experience pays huge amount  to the consultant who in turn shares this money with the corrupt folks (HR and Technical Team) inside the company. Candidate is called for the sham job interview and is given offer letter. Another method used by the candidates desperate for jobs is to list fake job experience and even fake skill sets in the resume. There are single room companies which hand out experience letters for a meager fee and also guarantee that they will handle the verification calls from the reputed companies. It is no surprise these days that one gets to see so much of  mediocrity in industry! Read more about back door jobs at:
    3. Cultural misfit: I have seen project managers with several years of experience fail due to this reason. For example, Startups and multinationals have completely different cultures. Startups are very agile, chaotic, and require folks who are hands-on, can wear multiple hats without requiring any supervision. Multinationals are slow, bureaucratic and have command & control management. Multinationals thrive on folks who enjoy working in process-centered environment and require directions. I often come across resumes of senior folks who have worked on 1-2 accounts doing similar kind of 9-5 work at the same multinational. In most cases, such individuals lack the skills to solve complex business problems. While most of the recruiters avoid job hoppers, I avoid folks who are risk-averse and had spent their entire life working for a single organization.
    4. Poor selection process: Most of the incompetent people manage to hoodwink the selection process if it is not thought through. I personally prefer the case study approach followed by 30 minutes of interview.

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