Dear PM Advisor. May 12, 2014

Dear PM Advisor, I hate my job. Every day as I get in my car to go home, the old Tony Orlando song goes through my head: "I'm coming home, I've done my time.' Because that's the way I feel. 

For the last two months I've been working really hard trying to complete this project that got way behind schedule and I was brought in to try and rescue it. I spend all my time on it, keeping the critical path moving, putting out fires and planning the parts that were being managed in an ad-hoc manner until I arrived. But that's the fun part. 

What is really getting me down is the Driector of Quality who keeps adding new things to these documents that should be pretty much cut and paste from a template. The things she wants to change add no value, only time to the documents. Then she insists that these new changes be retrofitted into older versions of the documents that had progressed past her review. Any time we miss one of these changes she gets all bent out of shape about how careless we are and how she has to keep pointing out mistakes again and again. 

She is extremely critical of the work my team and I do, pouncing on every mistake and ridiculing us in front of her peers. She does petty things like interrupting me if I happen to be speaking and someone on the phone starts to talk. Or she'll insist I go over everyone's action items at the end of the meeting even though I went through them all and wrote them down as I did so.

Another annoying habit is that she sits with her laptop open during the entire meeting and seems to only be paying attention half the time and insists on sitting down during the daily stand-up meetings. 

Any advice you can offer me?

Fed up in New Jersey

Dear Fed up,

I'm sorry you have to work in this hostile environment. I'm sure the actions she takes are the opposite of the motivation she thinks she is applying. In my experience there are people who were bullied as children and, rather than adjusting and being kind to people as adults, they seek out positions of authority like policeman and Director of Quality and use that position to abuse others as some kind of retribution. Usually the position they put themselves into makes it hard to unseat them. You just have to survive the best you can.

She could also be what I call a 'fireman arsonist.' One who loves to cause problems so that she can be seen to rescue the project when it looks like it is about to fail. Because she is causing the delays, she has the power to make the delays disappear.

I was once in a position similar to yours and my solution was to find another job. That may be the best thing you can do. But if the project is only going to last a couple more months, it may be best to stick it out and treat it as a learning experience.

Good luck,

PM Advisor

Send your questions to