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Pawel Brodzinski on Software Project Management

Project Management Failure Stories: I Expect You to Stay Late, Headcount


The project reached its final phase. It sucked as always. Everything should be ready by Friday afternoon but it looked like the whole weekend at work was the new plan for a group of people. Megan the Eager was among people who volunteered to stay late on Friday. She stayed late at night cleaning the mess in the project, she came back on Sunday to finish what had to be finished and finally on Monday it was all done.

Megan was proud of herself. She felt completely exhausted because of working overtime all the weekend but she felt she was among few people who rescued the project. At the same time she expected her engagement to be appreciated in some way.

What she got was some not even decent bonus money counted in some magic way which wasn’t revealed to her. The money was paid much later than she was told it would be. She neither heard “thanks” from her bosses nor was her effort acknowledged in front of the team. Megan felt like her bosses thought it was her duty to work crazy hours to save the project.

Actually that was exactly what she heard from her manager a month later.


It was a double failure. Not only project was failed in a first place which led to crazy rescue plan instead of proper work organization to finish on time but also the manager failed as a leader.

Appreciate the team

It’s damn manager’s duty to appreciate extraordinary work of their team. This is one of things they’re paid for. People don’t work their asses off to save the project just because their manager wants them to. They do it because they want and feel capable to help. However team sprit has to be sustained or it fades away. When the next project needs a rescue plan Megan will be heading home. She was taught it isn’t worth the effort.

When team fails manager fails too

Even when a manager is a kind of super-hero he won’t be able to do the project alone. Most likely he no longer has appropriate skill anymore. That’s why he has team after all. However, when team fails that’s a manager’s failure too. When team fails but could have succeeded under better management that’s a double fail for a manager. It would take just a few simple steps to bring the project back on track and complete it as planned.

And killing spirit of people like Megan should be punished in some way. She won’t work for current managers forever after all.

Read other project management failure stories.

in: project management

3 comments… add one

  • Vukoje March 14, 2010, 6:05 pm

    Uh, I’ve been in Megan’s skin. It strikes me how destructive can one unspoken “thank you” be.

  • Pawel Brodzinski March 15, 2010, 12:50 am

    I know Megan. I’ve listened her talking how she was hurt in this situation a few times. So did our friends. The interesting thing is her boss didn’t. And even if he did he wouldn’t see a problem. And this is his problem in the first place.

  • Pam September 25, 2013, 6:06 pm

    Up until a week ago, I used to work 12-14 hour days and only get paid for 8. I did what I thought I should do…help the “team.” After the 3rd project, I realized there is no helping the “team.” Every project is literally utter chaos. It’s hit or miss. Lack of project management, in my opinion, falls squarely on the shoulders of the Administrator. I can honestly say that I have handled very large projects involving millions in dollars, some extending into 2 years to complete. Planning was everything. Never have I seen anything like I am experiencing now. And this is your state government!

    Not one time have I ever heard the words “thank you” for all the extra hours I put in including weekends to help the “team.” I have offered suggestions in managing the projects but the response from the Administrator was, “It’s always chaotic when we do projects.” I wanted very much to say, “But it doesn’t have to be with better planning.” Then again, I knew talking to this Administrator was not going to lead anywhere so I let it drop.

    I guess my epiphany was when I asked to take off a 1/2 hour off early one day and was told I would have to claim it as vacation pay. That is when I knew I had done the best I could for this Administrator. It was over. No more long hour days and no more working weekends regardless of how far behind the projects get. Now I am back to 8 hour days. I don’t like being in this position but it is what it is. Have to agree with Vuokje. A little thank you would have gone a long way.

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