What does a project manager do? (Part 1)

Orange Question Mark Button by jhhwildAlthough a lot of what I’ve done professionally is project management, I’ve never actually had the title ‘project manager.’ Perhaps that’s why I’ve never had to explain what one does; there was no prompt for people to ask. Until recently.

Someone asked my husband what I do for a living, and he found it difficult to answer. He knew what I worked on, but he realized he couldn’t explain what I actually did. So he asked me. I started to explain and he started to laugh. He said, “I’m sorry, but it sounds like the guy from Office Space that just goes back and forth between people.” I could see that, so I attempted to clarify by saying that to keep a project moving forward, someone needs to be a central figure to coordinate and communicate with others. That got an even bigger laugh from him as he reminded me of this quote:

“I have people skills; I am good at dealing with people. Can’t you understand that? What the hell is wrong with you people?”

I laughed and gave up, at least for the moment. But it got me thinking about how to explain what a project manager is, what s/he does. I’ve come up with a couple answers, which I’ll post over the next couple weeks. I hope you’ll chime in with your thoughts, too.

Photo by jjhwild @


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