Management Myth 16: I Know How Long the Work Should Take


Does your manager still know what to do?
At one point, maybe that manager did. But the more senior the manager, the less likely that manager knows how to perform the work anymore. Do not allow managers who don’t know the technical work to influence the project schedule or the technical environment. People who don’t perform technical work should not change the project schedule or buy technical tools. It’s fine if those people provide a monetary ceiling—fiduciary responsibility makes sense. But making the final decision? That’s up to the people who do the work.

The more you allow the manager to influence your work, the worse your work environment may become.

Managers don’t always ask for what they want.
If you have a manager who insinuates himself into your work, ask that manager what he wants. In this case, John wants this project to be done faster so the next project can be started earlier. Sometimes, managers want to release earlier, especially if they are not using agile approaches. Whatever the case, the project team always has options.

It’s okay for a manager to want a project to end early. Managers can want anything. It’s how they act on those wishes that might be a problem. As long as managers trust in their project teams, and as long as those project teams work to earn trust, both sides can work together.



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User Comments

Catherine Wolfe's picture
Catherine Wolfe

I believe this wholeheartedly - but unfortunately I do not work for management that is open to this particular truth. I have only learned to remove myself and watch the deadlines get missed every time. Are there companies out there that give the project manager the freedom to speak this truth?

May 17, 2013 - 10:21am

About the author

Johanna Rothman's picture Johanna Rothman

Johanna Rothman, known as the “Pragmatic Manager,” helps organizational leaders see problems and risks in their product development. She helps them recognize potential “gotchas,” seize opportunities, and remove impediments. Johanna was the Agile 2009 conference chair. She is the technical editor for Agile Connection and the author of these books:

  • Manage Your Job Search
  • Hiring Geeks That Fit
  • Manage Your Project Portfolio: Increase Your Capacity and Finish More Projects
  • The 2008 Jolt Productivity award-winning Manage It! Your Guide to Modern, Pragmatic Project Management
  • Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management
  • Hiring the Best Knowledge Workers, Techies & Nerds: The Secrets and Science of Hiring Technical People

Johanna is working on a book about agile program management. She writes columns for and projectmanagementcom and blogs on her website,, as well on

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