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The Rights and Responsibilities of Project Managers

FEATUREJan11thIn many organizations, project managers are the Rodney Dangerfields – they don’t get no respect!  We regularly experience the tug-of-war relationship between project and functional managers, but the same challenges often occur between project managers and their team members.

Issues with this dynamic frequently stem from confusion related to their respective roles, but they can also be caused by a lack of understanding of basic rights and responsibilities.

While these should all be common sense, to try to address this root cause, a review of some “generic” project manager rights and responsibilities may help. 


  • Help team members understand the vision and objectives for the project and how its outcomes could benefit the organization and them.
  • Define objective expectations for a team member about how status updates, issues and risks will be communicated.
  • Walk team members through key project management artifacts covering scope and schedule so they can better understand how their work products fit in to the overall delivery of the project.
  • Actively engage team members in the project by involving them in scope definition, activity effort estimation, risk identification and analysis and any other appropriate planning (and re-planning) activities.
  • Challenge (or remove) unnecessary administrative hurdles from the path of team members to help them be as productive as possible
  • Provide regular, objective performance feedback for the team members to their functional managers
  • Regularly update team members on overall project status including expected outcomes and any approved changes to project objectives or constraints
  • Review the role of the project manager with team members so that they understand what is and is not “in scope”


  • Team members should keep the project manager apprised of changes to their availability
  • As per the defined and communicated expectations, team members should provide the project manager with progress updates, and any other information that is key to successfully managing the project including identified changes to issues, risks or scope
  • If the team member has concerns or confusion about their assigned work, they should communicate this to the project manager and get their assistance to resolve these in a timely fashion
  • If part of the team member’s role is to disseminate project information to their functional area, they should do this and not hoard knowledge
  • If the team member has an issue with another individual on the project team, they should first attempt to resolve the conflict directly with that team member, and if that does not work, they should engage the project manager to assist

As Josiah Stamp put it best “It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities.”

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