How to Be the Worst Project Manager


Interested in becoming the worst project manager in the world? We’ve got you covered. In this video, Jennifer Bridges shares (albeit ironically) 11 habits of highly ineffective project managers. It’s by knowing what not to do that we can learn to excel in best practices.

In Review: How to Be the Worst Project Manager

Jennifer acknowledged that experience is the best teacher, in this video, and that it’s by making mistakes that we can learn to avoid them in the future.

Nobody’s perfect.

But imperfection is not the same thing as perpetuating bad habits or bad behaviors. Here is Jennifer’s list of 11 bad habits that project managers can fall into to put them in the running for “worst” project manager:

  • Playing favorites
  • Allowing favors
  • Becoming the bottleneck
  • Demeaning your team
  • Micromanaging experienced people
  • Ignoring the team
  • Pleasing everyone
  • Avoiding conflict
  • Selling out the team
  • Circumventing process
  • Eliminating tracking

There are many people who find themselves running projects and leading teams without formal training. There are also plenty of people who are highly certified and experienced project managers who perfectly embody the “worst” in project management.

Pro-Tip: Study your own behavior. The worst project manager is one who is okay with being defined as a bad project manager.

We’re glad you’ve taken steps to try to improve your practice, today. Thanks for watching!


Hello, I’m Jennifer Bridges (formerly Whitt), director of ProjectManager. Welcome to our whiteboard session today on how to be the worst PM on the planet.

So, you’ve probably been involved in some of the discussions on some of the forums, on some of the project management forums. Well, we’ve collected our own tips and we have determined 11 habits to stop now. Well, where do you think this initial list came from? Well, it wouldn’t be from me, of course, because I’m the perfect PM on the planet. Just kidding, right? So, actually, some of these stories, I have to admit, are on this list are mine. And, how do I know? Well, these are private confessions of other project managers who confessed the same thing, and public criticisms by team members and other PM’s. I mean you’ve heard it. We’ve all said, “Aw, man, they are the worst PM on the planet,” and then they give their justification of why.

So, of this, we believe these are habits. So that, the list can go on and on and on, but these are 11, right? So we can pick 11 and stop these now. So, number one, playing favorites. So, by playing favorites on the team, picking out the superstars, and the people on the team, and rewarding them, and calling them out for all the great things they do. We believe by playing favorites disengages the other team members on the team.

Number two, allowing favors. If you allow other team members favors or exceptions, or allowing them to miss their timelines, or their milestones, or their deliverables, or accepting favors from stakeholders, and accepting and injecting scope creep into your project, we feel like that’s a bad habit.

Number three is becoming the bottleneck. Well, most of us have become a project manager by being the accidental project manager instead of the intentional project manager. So, we’re doing this on the fly. So, if we have been promoted from the ranks into the project management position a lot of time we’re juggling other, other areas of the business that we handled prior to becoming the project manager. So maybe we’re trying to be the business specialist. We’re trying to be the business analyst, and we’re trying to be the project manager. So, we actually, by trying to do everything on the project ourself, we become the bottleneck.

Number four, demeaning your team. By pointing out and demeaning the members of your team, again disengages, shuts down your whole team. And, they actually gang up against the project manager.

Number five, micromanaging experienced people. Well, experienced people are experienced people and they get there because they’re experienced. They know how to do what they know how to do. They have the experience, they have the training, they have the know-how. So, and typically they know how to do it better than you. So, we don’t need to micromanage the experienced people. We need to spend that time into the less experienced people who do actually need our guidance.

Number six, ignoring the team or staying at our desk. By not being social and collaborating with team members or stakeholders, maybe hiding at our desk, trying to stay away from people just so they won’t bug us about things. We feel like that’s a bad habit.

Number seven, by pleasing everyone. Well, by pleasing everyone that generally derails the project from the get go because, number one, we know you can’t actually please everyone. So by that effort we generally get the project off track in a hurry.

Number eight, by avoiding conflict. By avoiding conflict, well, conflict still remains. It never gets resolved and sometimes we’ve learned through some of the other sessions that some conflict is good. We as project managers need to become skillful in when to manage and when to fuel conflict so we can actually get problems resolved.

Number nine, selling out the team or, what we call throwing them under the bus, or better yet, blaming them. By doing that, again, that doesn’t get any loyalty to the project manager. It shuts people down. It makes people not want to be on your project and they stop, they can sometimes stop, intentionally working the task, producing the deliverables that you need to produce, them to produce on schedule and within the milestones.

Number ten, circumvent process. By circumventing process it usually causes derailing because, number, it usually leads to increased scope, switching out resources or things, again, that negatively impacts the project.

And number 11, eliminate tracking. By eliminating tracking, no one knows, even the project manager, the project team members, the stakeholders, the change control board, if we eliminate the tracking then no one has a clue what’s happening on the project and where we are. People don’t understand the issues, the risks, or anything like that. And, against all myths people on the team really do want to know those things because everyone actually wants to be successful on the project.

So, when we ask, in order to stop these 11 habits now, and again this is not the all encompassing list, but these are some of the top 11, and it goes on and on. But, how, what do we need in place to help eliminate these habits? Well, it may encompass some training. It may be a matter of just having tips, tools, and techniques available. Or, it may be project management software.

Remember a lot of project managers over time and even today start in project management as the accidental project manager instead of the intentional project manager. Therefore they may not have these things in place. Just like I didn’t. I mean I had my hard lessons learned. Each one of these for me has a story, and I don’t have to tell the story because most of you out there probably have these of your own.

So, how do we do this? Well, number one we study ourselves. We study ourselves and say, “Of these habits, which ones are I doing? Which ones do I need to eliminate? And by studying myself what training do I need? What tips, tools, and techniques, and what software?” And, how do, what so I, what else do I do? I study other great project managers or other great leaders and say, “What are they doing? What are they doing that I can adopt myself?” And we bridge the gap. And, this is how we move from the accidental to the intentional project manager. It’s the way we eliminate these habits and stop them now. And, we don’t have to be the worst project manager on the planet.

Ready to move from “accidental” project management to intentional project management? Our online project management software puts all the tools you need to be a great project manager right at your fingertips.

Related Posts

Deliver your projects
on time and under budget

Start planning your projects.

Start free trial