Sarah spent several years as a web developer before moving into managing creative teams and digital projects. A frequent speaker on digital management, Sarah is a certified Scrum Master and holds an MBA from Strathclyde Business School.
Project management is not a glamorous job. The better you are, the less you’re noticed: things just hum along nicely, with no major conflicts or serious misunderstandings. If you’re diligent, skilled, dedicated and competent, someone else will get credit. The software, application, website or rebuild you so lovingly slaved over will be attributed to your boss, your client, or – if you’re lucky – to your developers or creatives.
In fact, the only time a project manager can rely on getting any real attention is when things go wrong. A host of complex issues may be present – problematic management behaviour, shifting requirements, lack of necessary cooperation from the wider business, underinvestment in skill or resource – but the blame is ultimately yours. You’re the project manager.
Management roles have traditionally focused on issuing assignments and offering rewards. For much of the industrial age, this worked well. In the vast majority of situations, people do work harder if they know they’ll get a financial bonus or more recognition. Primed with 100 years of business advice, managers feel they have the tools they need to get things done, retain their staff and hit their targets.
But when they find themselves at the helm of a team of developers, or a mixed team of designers and developers, managers get confused. The promise of rewards only goes so far. Sometimes, incentives fail to generate any interest and may even lead to resistance. Developers who never voice any dissatisfaction put in their notice and move on without any explanation, leaving you scratching your head. It’s really confusing, and there are no easy answers.