Bright Red Flags

Introduction

As a program/project manager with experience in Agile work, I have encountered a plethora of red flags that have caused me concern over the years. Some have been easier to spot than others, but I have learned that it is essential to heed the warning signs to avoid finding oneself in a difficult situation.

The Contents Don't Match the Label

One of the most common red flags I've encountered is when the contents of a role do not match the job description. This has happened to me more than once, and I have learned the hard way that it is important to clarify the responsibilities and expectations of a role before accepting a job. In one instance, I accepted a program manager role that seemed to match my skill set and the job description, only to find out that the role required me to update PowerPoint slides all day instead of doing actual program management. Needless to say, I did not stay in that role for long.

Sprinting

Another red flag that I've encountered is when there is a lack of buy-in from management, particularly when it comes to understanding the core concepts of Agile. In one instance, I was leading a development team through an Agile transformation at a small company. While I thought I had executive buy-in, it became clear that one of the executives did not understand the terminology and thought that Agile was a methodology for making a team work extra fast, rather than delivering more consistently. This caused a breakdown in communication and interference in the team's priorities, making it difficult to continue with the Agile transformation.

We Need a Schedule

Lastly, a red flag that I've encountered is when a manager does not understand the fundamentals of Agile. In one instance, I was chatting with an engineering lead about bringing a team through an Agile transformation when my new boss, who had only been with the company for a short time, overheard and told me that we would not be "doing Agile" because our stakeholders needed to know milestones were being met. Despite my attempts to explain, he was unwilling to listen, and I eventually had to leave that role.

Conclusion

Overall, it is important to keep an eye out for red flags when working in program/project management, particularly in Agile work. While there are many more red flags that can occur, it is crucial to pay attention to these warning signs to avoid finding oneself in a difficult or untenable situation.

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