Friday, May 18, 2012
Project Management – the second most thankless job on the planet
Mark took a Nike course on project management this week and he seemed to be pretty excited about it. He felt like he learned a lot. While I think that’s GREAT, I’m a bit curious what the content of the course was and if they undersold the commitment just a bit.
Having been a project manager I would imagine this particular class must have been a little like attending a “vacation ownership” seminar. They get you all excited about it and you think “oh $75 a month to be able to go to Hawaii every year for a week seems like a screaming deal!” and before you have time to process all the HOA & cleaning fees, airfare and food costs you’ve signed on the dotted line and reality sets in.
After the course Mark seemed to think he might like project management. WHAT?! LIKE?! That’s where I got a little suspicious. I feel ultimately qualified to call it the second most thankless job next to parenting, having spent a couple of years at Coldwater Creek in a PM role in Marketing, and now currently as a parent.
If I were teaching the class, I’d have a few sections for my students to go through before turning them loose as project managers. Here’s MY course offering on Project Management:
PM101 – Bringing a Flask To Work
How to deal with having all of the accountability and absolutely no authority to make decisions, but having to make them anyway.
PM102 – When You Need Xanax or the Emergency Room
How to tell the difference between a panic/anxiety attack and a heart attack and when to seek help.
PM201 – Don’t Shoot the Messenger
How to tell a DVP in another department that your boss wants them to do something right away that is extremely time consuming and difficult, even though they are out of town and you’re just the project manager. Prerequisite Course: PM102 When You Need Xanax or the Emergency Room
PM202 – Shit or Get off the Pot
How to make decisions that could potentially get you fired because your boss is out of town and the creative is going to press within the hour. Prerequisite Course: PM101 Bringing a Flask to Work
PM301 – Don’t Pull Your Hair Out
How to deal with twenty emails, phone calls and “stop-bys” relating to the five projects you’re managing, all wanting different things and expecting immediate results. Recommended course: PM202 Shit or Get off the Pot
PM302 – Prioritizing Bullshit Meetings
How to deny meeting requests with style and panache from anyone who hasn’t bothered to check your company-wide, VERY full and totally visible outlook calendar.
PM401 – Finding the Light at the End of the Tunnel
How to look for, network and apply for other jobs using your office computer while juggling 5 projects and not having anyone find out about it.
PM401B – Your Favorite Hiding Place
This is an add-on course that isn’t required but highly recommended. You’ll learn how to find the one place on campus that no one can find you so you can have five minutes of peace in your day. Likely this will be the bathroom (see PM402B) but could also be the leather recliner in the game room that is always dark because who the hell has time to play foosball anyway? Well, other than the executives, but they are likely meeting to figure out who has the best golf handicap.
PM402 – Power Lunches
How to eat your lunch at your desk while on the phone with your boss who is out of town who wants you to email him the spreadsheet he has to have RIGHT NOW that he never gave you the updates for until THIS VERY MINUTE and not spilling anything or getting it lodged in your keyboard and having to call IT to bring you a new one because you accidentally poured your fourth triple latte of the day on it.
PM402B – ADVANCED COURSE – The Potty Break
How to schedule restroom breaks in your Outlook Calendar without others knowing it is a bathroom break AND be able to multi-task by returning emails using your blackberry while on the toilet very quietly so no one else in the stalls on either side of you have any idea. Reminder, this is an advanced course and all other ealier coursework should be complete before enrolling.
PM501 – GRADUATE LEVEL COURSE: Being a “Team Player”
How to deal with doing all the behind the scenes work but watching your boss, who has been out of town for six weeks, get all the credit.
If you can get through this program and STILL want the job, I think you'll be well-prepared for project management which incidentally should automatically qualify you for a free prescription to anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds because you will never again have time to go to the gym or do anything else that would relieve your stress level. Just being honest here.