Why I’ve Lost My Way As a Project Manager

I read a lot of blogs and articles and I came across this from Elizabeth Harrin who runs a site called a Girls Guide to Project Management. It is a frank and open article and with Elizabeth’s permission I have reproduced this below. The original article can be found here.


Since maternity leave I’ve been in a more operational job. For a while I had staff management responsibilities (although I’ve lost those very recently). It’s strategic. It involves offering advice, acting in an internal consultancy role some of the time. It sounds great, doesn’t it?

It has meant juggling lots of different projects, each with different stakeholders. Managing multiple smaller projects is not what I was used to before the boys were born. On top of work I’ve got the stresses and mummy guilt of being a working parent too.

elizabeth harrin

Taking stock of the year it has not been great. Some of my projects are running late. The one that did complete had a messy go live and plenty of bugs. There have been some successes and high points. But not enough.

I’m not really a ‘pure’ PM any longer and I’m not doing PM properly on the things I should be PM’ing. I’ve lost my way a bit.

What I’m doing about it

A colleague of mine is known for her strong approach to delivery and successful projects.

I called her and we had tea recently. She took me through the things that make her teams successful:

  • Active executive sponsorship and a clear business case
  • A kick off meeting
  • Weekly team meetings and a monthly face-to-face team meeting
  • Agendas and minutes and holding the team accountable for their actions
  • The expectation of success and a mind set where failure is not an option.

I was waiting for something radical: the nugget of gold that I could put into play with my project team. It didn’t come.

As I drained the last of my tea I realised that it wouldn’t come. She’s leading successful projects using project management best practice, not magic. There’s nothing there I couldn’t do, or haven’t done in the past.

All I need to do is buck up my ideas (and get a bit more sleep).

What’s going to change

That’s a misleading heading, as I don’t know. I can change my attitude, I hope. But it is hard to ditch the working parent guilt. I won’t get more sleep or more hours in the day. Instead I need to find ways to prioritise to do more of the stuff that works – the stuff from my colleague’s list.

The other thing that helps are the two mantras that got me few the early months of becoming a mother: “This too will pass,” and “Suck it up”.

I know I’m a good project manager (and a good parent). But it doesn’t feel like it much of the time right now. Ironically, I’ve mentored people in a similar situation to this, and it’s a lot easier to give out advice than to take it myself! I’d be telling myself: The boys are small. Work is getting done. Stakeholders are happy. Be kind to yourself. Head down, crack on.

What are you struggling with right now? Hit reply and let me know!

Have a great week!



Thank you Elizabeth for letting me to reproduce this blog. You can also find a blog posting linked to this at http://bit.ly/2bndLGN


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One Response to Why I’ve Lost My Way As a Project Manager

  1. Bhuboy says:

    My struggle is that my current job, won’t let my apply my knowledge about Project Management. Hope to change job soon.

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