How failing Project Managers can cause harm to team members

In this post, I would like to mention a lesson. A lesson that can be useful for both project managers and software developers. Today, I know that a developer in India is died of a stroke because of the stress she has from her Project Manager. After hearing this piece of news, I felt very sad and started thinking about the environment that this pathetic developer was working in. How she was stressed from her project manager to a degree that causes her heart to stop working.

The funny thing that I know is that in the second day, the PM (Project Manager) makes the team members work until midnight and after that he told them “This is enough for today. I do not want to lose another team member”.

Looking at these words, you will find that this is an example of insanity in the software development world where such a failing PM look at team members as machines (NOT humans). He will be sorry if a team member dies before he delivers his/her work. Such PMs want to deliver the project even if all of the team members die in other words the project will be delivered on the dead bodies of the team.

What we can learn from here is, For project managers:
1. You have to plan reasonably. A developer cannot work for 16 hours daily for a month in order to deliver the project in time.
2. You have to understand the limits of the people. I know that your role is to push in order to deliver on time and with-in the budget but in the same time, you have to get the feedbacks from the team members in order to know their states. This will help you in avoiding killing people (indirectly) by PUSHING, PUSHING and PUSHING.

For developers:
1. You have to discuss the plan with the project manager. Do not accept the plan as is unless it is a reasonable plan.
2. You have to push back if you find yourself flooded with the tasks. You have to discuss that all of these tasks are not possible to be done with-in the planned time, in this case, the project manager will have to re-plan in order to avoid the project slippage.

This is all what I have for this real sad story that I really wish it will never happen again in the future of the software development.

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About Hazem Saleh

Hazem Saleh has more than eleven years of experience in Cloud, Mobile and Open Source technologies. He worked as a software engineer, technical leader, application architect, and technical consultant for many clients around the world. He is an Apache PMC (Project Management Committee) member and a person who spent many years of his life writing open source software. Beside being the author of the "JavaScript Unit Testing" book, "JavaScript Mobile Application Development" book, "Pro JSF and HTML5" book and the co-author of the "Definitive guide to Apache MyFaces" book, Hazem is also an author of many technical articles, a developerWorks contributing author and a technical speaker in both local and international conferences such as ApacheCon North America, Geecon, JavaLand, JSFDays, CON-FESS Vienna and JavaOne. Hazem is an XIBMer, he worked in IBM for ten years. Now, He is working for Nickelodeon New York as a Mobile Architect. He is also an OpenGroup Master Certified Specialist.

2 thoughts on “How failing Project Managers can cause harm to team members

  1. This PM approach to project execution is unfortunately far too common. They try to run teams too hot for too long and it results in burn-out. When it comes to outsourced teams, it is also a by-product of the economics; it is easier to rationalize overtime and people than it is to invest in skill.

    That being said, correlation is not causation. A number of contributing factors could have resulted in this person dying. Genetics, diet, family stress, relationships are all factors. The PM though is clearly being insensitive and sacrificing workplace happiness and productivity with short-sighted schemes.

  2. It’s a sad story! Software is made by humans, so everyone involved in the process should be aware that we have limits and stops if needed. I hope this article helps developers and PMs to understand that life/health is more important than deadlines.

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