In-house counsel Susan Moon, in her Above the Law column, reflects this afternoon on what it means to be a below-average lawyer.
Here in summary are the traits she lists:
- You CYA all the time.
- You hide behind formality and process.
- You’re resistant to change.
- Clients don’t include you in their conversations.
- You have no comments a lot of the time…. You either aren’t spotting the issues or aren’t understanding what’s being proposed.
- You engage in unethical behavior [from...] telling small lies or making misleading statements to avoiding issues that you know you should address.
These traits would be a pretty good list of bad-project-manager behaviors as well.
The first three are all too common. The worst project managers I’ve worked with over the years manifested these three traits pretty much full time. Doing so led to #4, not being included in conversations, because they were seen as impediments to getting stuff done.
For most bad project managers outside the Legal world, #5 goes the other way — they can’t (or won’t) shut up, usually starting sentences with the word “no.” All too often, that’s their first and last word. “No way” and “no comment” are two sides of the same bad penny.
Project management is hard because you have to put yourself out there, take some risks, and make decisions based on partial information, not because the actual techniques of project management are terribly difficult. While some engineering-project-management techniques are indeed hard (and require real math), 90% of the work is codified common sense. Avoiding the six traits listed above is a good first step toward success.
It’s Friday afternoon as I write this. Have a great weekend.