A Day in Life of a Change Project Manager

I see these images about the day of an entrepreneur – how unpredictable it is. Yet, I can’t help but think about the day of any change project manager, which by the way, is way worse. It is so volatile – it is almost surreal.

An entrepreneur is its own boss and has responsibilities and authority. Whereas a project manager has all the responsibility in the world but none or little authority. Reports to several bosses and has to deal with a mountain of stakeholders. Counts with limited or no budget and a lousy team (which somebody else chose). Still has to achieve goals, meet deadlines, manage resistance, convince everyone to sponsor the project.

So, try to visualize this: You are a transformational or a change project manager. You’ve been working on a project for 5 months, and you are supposed to close it next month. You are under pressure to deliver the results. A typical day goes like this:

  • 8:00h A decision-maker (a HIPPO) is trying to change the scope of your project (making it bigger, of course). You scale it to your boss, and he promises to address the issue. Pfew🙄.
  • 8:30h During the sprint, a stakeholder is not shaking hands with you and is withholding resources. Instead, claims to have other commitments to top management. Noooooo😩.
  • 9:00h In another project meeting, one of your team members stormes out, unable to stand up to the pressure of deadlines. You spent 15 minutes in the bathroom, calming him down. Finally, he agreed to take a different approach. Yes😎!
  • 9:45h Scrolling through your phone alerts, you spot one from LinkedIn. Another of your team members just posted that his project manager (i.e. you) sucks. Thank you🤨!
  • 10:30h Next meeting. The project owner claims he is not ready to take over and demands a project extension of two months. You want to resign🤯.
  • 11:00h At the management committee meeting you are presenting, you get a sticky note with the “last moment” figures. You suddenly realize you are not hitting the KPI’s expected level. You wish you could disappear😶‍🌫️.
  • For lunch, you have a sandwich from the vending machine and a warm coke. Your Jira and Monday boards look like red carpets. Part of the job🤮.
  • 15h Next meeting – sceptical stakeholders. The company’s Intranet is down, and you can’t access your files with the project update. When you finally do, they get up in a rush for the following meeting. Their next available slot to need about your project is in a month. Really😵‍💫?
  • 15:30h Your son school teacher is on the line – couldn’t reach your partner. Unfortunately, the boy has a fever, and you have to collect him immediately. Now? It’s terrible timing.
  • As you rush to the next meeting, you overhear about another project almost identical you are leading in the elevator. The Marketing department sponsors that one; however, they flag it as a strategic OKR. You believe you will be fired😔.
  • 16:00h Your boss just communicated that he tried to convince the HIPPO to keep the current scope, but it didn’t work; you have to change it. You wish you were fired😏.
  • At 17h, you receive the Company e-newsletter, which announces that the project you are leading surpasses all expectations. Honestly😳?
  • 5 min later, your boss emails the whole team congratulating everyone on an excellent job—finally, some appreciation😇.
  • The following email is also from him, and he urges you to close the project ASAP and gives you the guidelines of your next project – starting in a week. However this time you have to work from the London office. And by the way, don’t forget your expense report from last month trip. Anything else🧐?
  • By 18h, you are wondering why you chose the profession. Then you remember it was because of the changing nature of the job🤣.

Congratulations to all the past, present and future transformational project managers. Your rock!