SINGAPORE: An employee took to social media to express his difficulties at work because the project manager had “zero knowledge, no IT background, and no direction.”

“Every few weeks he will promise different things to the customer about what the system can do without actually clarifying it and changing the project outcome. He always says he guides me but has not provided any valuable input so far. He will chastise me for asking him questions and saying I am asking the wrong guy,” the employee wrote on r/askSingapore on Friday (April 12).

One particularly problematic aspect he mentioned was the manager’s approach to setting deadlines. The employee recounted how the manager pressured the stakeholders to provide deadlines without fully understanding the project’s complexities.

Ask them by when they can complete, if they say cannot complete, then ask them by when they can,” his manager said to him.

However, when the stakeholders proposed 7 weeks to complete the project, the manager unilaterally shortened this timeframe to just 2 weeks, resulting in severe delays and setbacks.

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Additionally, the employee pointed out other significant issues in his post, including the manager’s habit of shifting blame onto him when developers respond slowly and his tendency to veer off into irrelevant topics during meetings or email correspondence.

“I always have to call the others after the meeting to discuss again as he took up too much time in actual meetings.”

The manager has also assigned the employee to create a timeline for the software’s launch. However, due to the project’s chaotic nature, the employee feels uneasy about taking on this responsibility without sufficient support or guidance.

“At this point we are in the 4th week and still doing testing on QA environment. Any advice on how I can do proceed?”

“Talking tech to a non technical project manager is like speaking to a brick wall”

In the comments section, Singaporean Redditors echoed the employee’s sentiment and said that working with a project manager who lacks technical know-how is never easy.

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One Redditor pointed out, “The PM’s job is supposed to be protecting the backend and properly managing client expectations, not being a yes-man to the client just for the sake of retaining the account.

At some places the client is even denied speaking directly to the backend, everything has to go through the PM.”

Another Redditor raised a thought-provoking question, “To be honest do “technical” project managers even exist these days?

I feel like for the most part everyone is pigeon-holed like if you are a techie there’s no chance for you to cross-over into management since its a racket for the Business school grads.”

A third Redditor stated, “Talking tech to a non technical project manager is like speaking to a brick wall.”

Moreover, some Redditors shared personal anecdotes, highlighting the complexities of collaborating with project managers lacking technical backgrounds. 

One Redditor recalled, “I have a really bad experience with this a few years back with my ICT vendor.

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In the end, the project manager was let go and I had no problem directly communicating with the IT team directly and getting my project resolved within 2 months (i spent 6 months back and forth liaising with the project manager on just the schedule). Wasted a lot of unnecessary time and time is a resource as well.”

Others, meanwhile, had a helpful suggestion for the employee. They advised him to approach his manager politely and request that he assume responsibility for all technical tasks.

Then, he could propose having someone else take on the product lead role so the manager could concentrate solely on managing client relationships.

Additionally, they suggested that the employee and the newly appointed product lead should accompany the manager whenever important meetings arise where their input is needed.

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