Good Project Managers vs Bad Project Managers [Career Tips]


Learn what it takes to be a good project manager with this short video hosted by Jennifer Bridges, PMP. You’ll find out how to set yourself apart from the project managers your boss considers to be the worst performer on the team: don’t let that be you!

In Review: Good vs Bad Project Managers

In this video, Jennifer presented 13 ways that you can evaluate your project management performance to establish whether you fall into the category of “good” project manager.

Let’s recap on those now. Good project managers:

  • Hold professional certifications, such as PMP, and are constantly learning and improving their skills;
  • Are self-aware and always trying to set their teams up for success;
  • Have mentors and they also mentor other project managers;
  • Build successful relationships with colleagues;
  • Are social, both online and off;
  • Work in a mobile way, interacting with their team and being out and about;
  • Are available and responsive;
  • Collaborate, and encourage collaboration with their team;
  • Are decisive and move the project forward;
  • Are resolute and know how to encourage this trait in others;
  • Communicate effectively with the team and other stakeholders;
  • Delegate appropriately; and
  • Know how to lead teams and manage the project and know the difference between the two.

Remember, this wasn’t a comprehensive list, so feel free to add your own criteria as well.

Pro Tip: Ask your colleagues to rate your skills with you. It’s useful to have a rounded view of how you are perceived at work so that you can focus on which skills you need to improve.

We hope you’ve enjoyed hearing more about the criteria for being a good project manager. How do you rate yourself now?

Thanks for watching!



Hello. My name is Jennifer Whitt, Director of

Well, welcome to our whiteboard session today on good versus bad project managers. Well, if you’ve been hanging around the water cooler or spending some time online on some of the discussion groups for project managers, this seems like a bar room brawl. Sometimes people look at things differently on what really makes a good versus a bad project manager. So, what I’m going to do today is list 13 areas for you to evaluate of yourself.

So, the assumption is when we look at project management, I feel like if you’re a project manager, the principals of project management is an assumption and it’s table steaks. Meaning for sure the baseline has to be that you are using best practices, that you are using tools, that you’re using templates and have some type of project management training. So if this is the baseline and this is table steaks, then let’s look at some of the seasonings, some of the special sauce that project managers do that make them good versus bad.

I’ve spent over 20 years studying project managers and team, what makes them work, what makes them fail, what makes some project managers set up to get those great projects and get the promotions. So, some of the things I’ve observed is just – this is a few. This is not a comprehensive list. But again it’s more areas to look at and look for yourself, “How am I doing this?”

I’m always a proponent of finding people you think are really good project managers and evaluate and assess for yourself what makes you think that they’re so good and try to emulate some of the things that they’re doing. So, here are some of the things that I think the good project managers do in addition to the baseline of project management best practices.

Number one, professional development certifications, I find that the really good project managers are constant learners. They’re interested in learning. They’re constantly looking at how to better themselves. They’re learning about teams. They’re learning about different ways to improve their baseline skills and their interpersonal skills.

We all talk about the certifications. We’ve seen examples of this all across our organizations where you can see people who, they have all the certificates on the walls and they have their certification but maybe they’re a really bad project manager. So, we’ve all seen that, but I do still believe that those who are good, the people on my list, are constant learners. They invest in themselves and professional development and their certifications.

Number two, they’re conscious and aware. That meaning they’re conscious of themselves, aware of themselves and others. They’re always trying to set their teams up for success and being aware, what are they really good at, what they are bad at, recognizing when someone on the team is struggling and needs support. Looking at maybe when someone is shut down or maybe not providing information or being able to be conscious and aware of the plan and what estimates people are providing that maybe doesn’t seem correct. So, it’s being in tune, being conscious, aware.

Number three, they have mentors and they have mentees. Learning is a give and take, so for sure having people who have been there, done that whether it’s technology you’re learning, a subject area, maybe project management that you’re learning. But always have that person who has been there, done that that you can learn from. Having mentees, I’ve always found and seen and experienced for myself when I’m teaching someone else, like a mentee, then I’m learning. I’m learning from them as well. So, they’re learning from me. I’m learning from them because they always provide a different perspective. Again, learning is a give and take.

Relationships, good project managers believe in, and they’re really good at, building and nurturing relationships, because relationships of the people within our team and outside of our team that’s the way we really get things done. We know how critical the people are on our team, so the good project managers are really good at building and nurturing relationships. Or if they’re really bad at that, then they find their go-to people who do have those relationships and they leverage those relationships.

Number five, social, online and offline, again, it’s great to be involved, not only learning and seeing other people’s experience, but also giving and taking best practices within the community. So, being social and active both online and offline.

Number six, being mobile, project managers rarely sit at their desk. So, if a project manager is sitting at their desk, they’re probably one of the bad ones because that means they’re not interacting. They’re not out and about. They’re maybe not meeting, collaborating, socializing with their team, or maybe they’re stakeholders. So they’re mobile and being mobile is not just being out. But it’s being effective at being on the go so they’re able to correspond, communicate, respond effectively and promptly while they’re on the go.

Number seven, available and responsive, but appropriately, so being available for people. So if you are on the go, or if you are one of the project managers who spend a lot of time at your desk, then you’re available for others to access you, to ask questions, give you input. Being responsive, and not just ignoring emails, not ignoring calls, but actually returning emails and phone calls promptly, but appropriately with boundaries.

Some people don’t set the appropriate boundaries, so maybe they become bad project managers because they can’t get anything done because they’re not good at setting boundaries, saying “no”, setting scheduled time to get work done. And having appropriate systems in place for people to access them and respond appropriately.

Number eight, collaborative, I feel like it’s really important for project managers to collaborate with people so they’re getting input. They’re getting input. That doesn’t mean necessarily that the input they take they’re going to do, but to get different perspectives, not look at things from one perspective which is their own. So, the really good project managers I’ve seen collaborate and take information from others.

Also, other good project managers I’ve seen are decisive. They can take information and they can make decisions. They can make them promptly, appropriately, which goes into number ten, resolute, being resolute in getting things done. So, making decisions is not necessarily getting things done, but being resolute is. Good project managers get things done on their team by being resolute. So whether they get them done or they, again, know their go-to people and know how to get things done on their team.

Number 11, they communicate. They communicate effectively. They know their team members. They know their stakeholders. They have a communications plan set in place. They communicate effectively themselves, whether it’s in language, having a strong, effective language. Whether they give presentations, whether they send email, however they communicate, they communicate effectively so that people know what information they’re trying to get.

So, a good project manager communicates effectively to indicate what information they’re trying to give others and more importantly what information they need back. That’s a great communication feedback loop.

Number 12, they delegate. So, they know how to delegate appropriately. A lot of times project managers have been promoted through the ranks so maybe whatever area that they were in, which was their expertise, it’s kind of difficult to get away from it. So, when they get promoted, they try to do the old job plus the new job or maybe multiple jobs and they’re trying to do too much. So the project manager becomes the bottle neck. It’s important to know how, when and to whom to delegate to effectively.

Number 13 is knowing how to lead teams and manage the projects and know the different between. Because lot of times people try to manage the team, manage the people, and people don’t like to be managed. People like to be led. They like for someone to set the vision, fuel the passion and if they do that, if you can influence the team, then they will follow you.

Again, these are some of the areas that you can evaluate for yourself. This is not a comprehensive list of the all. These are just some areas to think about. These are some of the things that I commonly find that the good project managers do that you can see for yourself. Again, check out the people you think are good project managers. Make your own list and see where you stack up between the good and the bad, and you add some little seasoning and spice to the table steaks.

If you’ve evaluated yourself against these three areas or better yet made your own list and now you’re trying to add the seasoning to your table steaks, then sign up for our software at Implement some of the things that you can do to be a good project manager.

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