Why project managers and employees are not competitors, but allies

Why project managers and employees are not competitors, but allies

Project and interim managers have become more selective in the choice of assignments they accept. They are particularly critical about the projects they want to spend their precious time on. The project must be challenging, and they also want to learn something from it. Their standards are high.

This discernment forces companies to think carefully about the projects they want to entrust to a project or interim manager. They must clearly define what they expect from them. What is their mission and what results must they achieve within a certain period? Also, how does their mission fit into a bigger picture? Project and interim managers are neither passers-by nor are they individualists: they want to contribute to a bigger story. A story that transcends project X and department Y.

Promise vs Reality

To successfully complete an assignment, two aspects are crucial for a project or interim manager. To begin with, expectations must correspond to reality. Many relationships fail because of opposing expectations, which is a truth in the labor market and in our personal lives. Some companies talk up an assignment, which is an accident waiting to happen. No job posting will mention that the coffee is not free, that colleague X is a nag, or that the commuter train is always too late. But if the reality deviates too far from the assignment, the project or interim manager will give up.

The second condition for success is that the conditions of the position must be right. Is the project at the right level? Is there a sponsor? Are there enough resources to successfully complete the project? These are the questions that every good project and interim manager asks himself before embarking on a project. If a company cannot affirmatively answer those questions, a good project or interim manager will not want to take on the assignment.

Sponsor and owner

Set work conditions have a surprisingly positive effect. They ensure that as a project manager you can have a greater impact on a company than as a permanent employee. This does not only have to do with experience, talent, and quality but also with the way in which projects and interim managers force companies to organize themselves today.

Before a company comes to Maerten & Partners to find a strong project or interim manager, a number of steps have to be taken internally. It is usually already clear who the sponsor and the owner of the project are, especially once a budget for a project or interim manager gets the green light. Projects that are at the right level and are supported by a sponsor/owner have a much better chance of having a successful outcome.

I have worked as a consultant and project manager with several large companies for many years. Sometimes it was downright embarrassing as to how I, as an 'external', got things moving, while employees with as much talent and good ideas were getting slammed against the wall. Without a sponsor and owner, projects get hopelessly entangled.

Project managers and employees are allies

The more often companies work with external project and interim managers, the better they will understand what conditions they must meet to realize a project. The rise of project and interim managers thus has an impact on companies and on the labor market that goes far beyond just the specific project they are responsible for. Companies are increasingly realizing that every project requires a clear and realistic roadmap, sufficient dedicated resources, a sponsor and an owner. Regardless of who ultimately has to implement it.

Project and interim managers do not take work away from employees. Rather, they make the network more efficient and challenging. Employees and project/interim managers are not competitors in the labor market, they are allies.

Can your organization use an interim or project manager? Contact Maerten & Partners for more information.

Maerten & Partners


project manager, interim manager, international project management day

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