I heard a quote the other day that really shocked me, and it would shock anybody in the project management industry. I was talking to a coworker about the job market and he said, “you know project managers are a dime a dozen.” When I heard that, my mouth dropped. I started to have doubts about project managers and how can anybody say that they are a dime a dozen. Then, I started thinking maybe he was right – maybe project managers really are a dime a dozen?
If project managers fall into that category, I wondered: does having your PMP make you special? What about the PGMP credentials? Better yet, what about having your Masters or PHD in project management? When you have those credentials, does that get you out of people thinking you are in the “dime a dozen” category? What separates great project managers from the rest? How do you truly know if you are a good project manager? If your projects come in on time and on budget, does that make you great? What happens if your team members hate you along the way?
There are many answers to these questions, and, there are many ways a boss or coworker can tell you whether they think you are a good project manager or not. Bonuses, raises, or an old-fashioned pat on the back can all go a long way, but the only true way of knowing is by asking yourself. Only you can really know if you are a good project manager, the same way a salesperson, vice president, or an employee at the local convenient store knows if they are good at their job or if they indeed fall into the “dime a dozen” category.
Performing a self-assessment is one of the most difficult things a person can do, but to avoid it can be even more detrimental to your career. There is a point where you have to take a good hard look at your career and how well you’re really doing.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself that will help you with your self-assessment. Grab a pen and paper and answer these following questions:
- Do I feel successful in my job?
- Are my projects failing or are they succeeding?
- Do I communicate effectively with my team members? Customers? Executives?
- Does my team respect me and are they willing to go the extra mile for me?
- Do my customers like me?
- Am I a good leader?
- Am I passionate about my work?
- Would I work for me?
- How often do I thank and show my appreciation to my team members?
- Do I love what I am doing?
If you answer “yes” to all these above questions, there is a good chance you are probably good at your job and a good project manager. Answering yes to the majority of the questions shows that you are confident both in your job and your own abilities. How did you do? If you were scoring one point for every “Yes” question, what was your score? More than five or fewer? Were you honest with your answers? These are good soul-searching questions that should help you determine not only your successfulness, but also your happiness, which can be a key indicator as to whether you’re a part of the “dime a dozen” category and clearly in the right role.
The real question is, how can we (in the project management profession) shake this “dime a dozen” label? How can we remove this stereotype by ensuring our coworkers value and appreciate the work we do? How do we as project managers not only focus on being successful, but focus on building a team atmosphere that not only satisfies project expectations, but exceeds them?
I believe respect comes with success, so we have to start by delivering and driving our projects to successful endings and we can slowly move people’s opinions from thinking that all project managers are in that dime a dozen category. We have to change people’s ongoing stereotypes and move them into thinking they cannot run a project without a project manager or we can have some serious long-term problems in our industry. I know I have had project managers that worked for me before that my customers would ask for repeatedly, and those project managers for a fact, would never fall into that dime a dozen category after they worked on a project and showed how valuable there were to the success of the project.
I know that I have never felt that project managers are a dime a dozen. I have managed projects, I have been in the trenches, and truly believe that it is one of the hardest jobs in the world. I respect people that do it day to day because I know how challenging it can be and how difficult it is to bring a project to a successful ending.
Tell me your thoughts in the comments and let’s open a dialog. I would be excited to hear other opinions on this topic.
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Bill Dow, PMP is a recognized expert in Project Management by the Project Management Institute (PMI) for specifically developing and managing Project Management Offices (PMOs.) His extensive experience with Project Management and PMOs have enabled him to co-author several comprehensive books available through Amazon.com.
Bill has taught at the college level for more than 15 years in Washington State, British Columbia and Ontario, Canada, and has worked at Microsoft for more than 10 years. He has spoken at multiple Project Management Institute (PMI) conferences, breakfasts and events nationally.
"PMO Lifecycle: Building, Running, and Shutting Down," June 2017 (Amazon Link)
“Project Management Communications Tools,” May 2015 http://tinyurl.com/z5yt8mz Co-authored with Bruce Taylor
“The Tactical Guide for Building a PMO,” August 2012, http://tinyurl.com/z8y8bym
“Project Management Communications Bible,” June 2008 http://tinyurl.com/j2sn5bd Co-authored with Bruce Taylor
Bill Dow's Website - CLICK HERE