Many of the PMs that I talk to tell me that they are so, so busy – averaging 50-60 hours per week or more. To be provocative, I say “You must be a really bad project manager.” My point being is that if you are unable to manage your own time effectively, why should you be trusted to manage other people’s time?
To be sure, many people exaggerate the number of hours they work. Averaging 60 hours per week of work is damn hard. I suspect people include their commute in that number. And some confuse at work with work. But I’m sure some people really work 60 hours per week. And that means they are doing it wrong.
My main point is above – why are you so bad at managing your time? I’m positive you did not schedule yourself for 60 hours per week – probably 40 hours (or slightly less) like everyone else on the project. So if you’re scheduled for 40 hours and work 60 that means your estimates are off by 50%! And more shocking is that estimates for how long it takes you to do something are going to better than estimates for the other team members. So your entire schedule is going to be off by more than 50%. Interestingly, the average schedule overrun is 60% (according to the Standish Group).
Assuming your PM is working 60 hours per week, I am concerned that they are either doing menial tasks or the quality of the work is low. Research proves that the quality of work goes down the more hours that are worked. This is common sense – we make more mistakes at 9pm than we do at 9am. Now, if a PM is doing menial tasks (you know what I’m talking about – PowerPoint slides, tweaking Microsoft Project just one more time, etc.), the decrease in quality may not occur or be noticeable. But that is also concerning. As a PM, I work on the hard things – the risks and issues that require concentrated effort and innovative thinking. I can’t be effective if I’m doing this at midnight – my solutions will not be elegant or functional. If your PM can consistently work 60 hours per week with no noticeable decrease in quality then they aren’t focused on the right things.
In any particular year, I work unplanned overtime just a few times per year. (Note the word unplanned – because some IT project work must be done on weekends, I plan to work several weekends per year.) If I see a PM working a large number of hours, it’s a red flag to me.
If your PM is consistently working 60 hours per week then they are doing it wrong.