Boriana Valentinova

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project manager day

A day in life of a project manager

I see these images about an entrepreneur’s day – how unpredictable it is. Yet, I can’t help but think about the day of any project manager in charge of change. In reality, it is way worse. It is so volatile – it is almost surreal. An entrepreneur is a boss and has responsibilities and authority. 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 chooses). Still, they must achieve goals, meet deadlines, manage resistance, and convince everyone to sponsor the project.

Just a 'normal' day

So, imagine 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, who promises to address the issue. Pfew🙄.
  • 8:30h During the sprint, a stakeholder is not shaking hands with you and is withholding resources. Instead, he 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 your employee down. Finally, you agree 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 the team is not ready to take over and requests 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 minute” figures. You suddenly realise you are not hitting the KPI’s expected level. You wish you could disappear😶‍🌫️.
  • You have a sandwich from the vending machine and a warm coke for lunch. Your Jira and Monday boards look like red carpets. You tell yourself to keep it calm; it’s 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 is in a month. Really😵‍💫?
  • 15:30h Your son’s school teacher is on the line –couldn’t reach your partner. Unfortunately, the boy has high fever, so you must collect him immediately. Now? It’s terrible timing. You promise you will be there soon.
  • As you rush into the elevator for the next meeting, you overhear about another project almost identical you are leading. Apparently, the Marketing department sponsors that one; however, they flag it as a strategic OKR. You believe you will get 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 modify 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 for 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’s 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🤣. You suddenly realise you haven’t picked up your son from school.

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