The 5 Secret Jobs of an IT Project Manager

Did you think a Project Manager had just 1 job? There’s a lot more going on behind the scenes than simply “managing a project.”

PMs are often overwhelmed, and always looking for spare time between meetings to get work done. They are pulled in a number of directions, and can easily be distracted from more important tasks. If they’re not careful, they get caught up in politics above them and drama below.

How can a PM stay focused on the most important activities that will best serve their project, organization, and career? By performing these 5 hidden functions:

1. Thinker, Philosopher

Have a time scheduled to think about the big picture. Consider priorities first and always control your tasks—don’t let tasks rule your calendar. Reflect on lessons learned each day.

The challenge is, PMs are usually conditioned to do what they’re told. Spending time thinking doesn’t naturally feel like a good idea… but it is.

2. Delegator, Minimalist, Zen Master

Reduce the minutia. Minimize emails. Aggressively delegate down. Require team members to update the status of tasks in a common document. (This makes reporting more accurate and efficient.)

Too many PMs are micro-managers. They have succeeded in their careers so far by doing, not by empowering others. Now it’s time to delegate and trust your team.

3. Crystal Ball Reader, Doomsday Prepper

People resign, requirements change, hiccups happen. Be prepared for project risks by having reserves—budget, time, patience, and enthusiasm. Management expects you to adapt to new realities, and the team needs direction at all times.

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4. Clarifier, Translator

Articulate dependencies in terms of decisions and tasks. If you have a clear understanding of who depends on whom within a given timeline, you can communicate your expectations and prepare team members for what to do next. This creates transparency and eliminates delays between tasks.

Capture any and all dependencies in “The Document.” The same people who resist creating this step-by-step resource will enjoy the clarity and accountability that such a document creates.

5. Social Coordinator

To move things forward, connect people. Collaborative sessions between team members are the catalyst for solving problems. Dozens of emails will not achieve what a brief 15 minutes meeting between subject matter experts can. Overcome any tendency to write lengthy emails. Instead, invite team members to talk to each other.


Thinking, delegating, anticipating, clarifying, and connecting are at the heart of a PM’s job, regardless of what’s written in the formal job description. Project Managers who fulfill these 5 covert roles are more effective, less stressed, and easier to work with.

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