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I am new to asking question on this site, So please comment if you want me to delete this question or feel free to edit this question if you think this is not a good question.

I am facing one question in real time. It is about a value of experience in a role of a Project Manager (Technical Manager).

If a person is having graduate degree and if a person have a post graduate degree e.g. M. Tech. or M.E., does it mean to make a person manager even though he/she does not have experience in Project Execution?

For Example, one organization is hiring M. E./ M. Tech. guys for Project Management in the field of Java. The people who got hired does not have any experience in Java. (Hardly has 1 year exp). They know jsp,servlet. But the project they are managing is in Spring, Hibernate. No other employee is there who knows such frameworks. The most disadvantage is we are not having experience in even single SDLC life cycle product. And some of us are not willing to learn also. The organization is not having CMMI level. I started and finished learning.

But the case is : If I am one of the person, can I be a good manager? Is management dependent on experience? Is management dependent on degree (Not MBA but M E / M Tech in our case)? Should I consider "A good coach may not be a good player!!" or I should first grow my technical skills.

The problems I am facing is:

  1. During assigning tasks I do not know about dependencies.
  2. I have to rely on what my developer says.
  3. I do not know how to set a project time limit.
  4. I do not have skilled team members.

We are forced from higher management to not to work but only manage. Will this job fit us as 1 year experienced Post Graduate Computer Guy?? I need some advice from people who has experience in this field. They can guide me in proper career building.

Thank you in advance.

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Adding this as a comment, because I don't feel it's strong enough to count as an answer: Experience helps a lot. Experience teaches PMs about softer skills of estimation and dealing with (interacting with, negotiating with, and "reading") people, but every PM at one point had no experience. –  wordsmythe Jul 2 at 17:27
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3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Experience is necessary for capability and competency growth; however, the weight we tend to put on experience, I believe, is grossly overrated. The velocity and degree of capability and competency growth over a period of time practicing an activity can range from decay to something very extreme over a short period of time. So, in the aggregate, when you are looking at a large population of practitioners who boast some years of experiencing doing something, you will have quite a range of performers.

Not only that, but also there is quite a bit of transferability of skills and knowledge from other activities that will help quite nicely in a new-to-you activity.

Predicting performance is very difficult; most of the indicators we commonly use have very little predictive validity, including experience. So, to answer your base question, it is very possible for an inexperienced person to be a manager...and a good one, too. Your odds might go up a bit with someone with experience, but not much.

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I completely second David (as usual). Having experience MAY increase the likeliness of a professional being a good manager, but it's not mandatory. I believe this "increase" might come pretty much from the past experiences this professional might have been through in the past. Also, it seems you're over evaluating the study degrees... they give you theoretical knowledge, but the experience you'll only pick in the field.

Now, to reinforce my point of view, let's think from the opposite perspective: if experience means good management, then all managers with years of experience would be good managers. And we know that's not true at all.

Having that said, you started quite well: You're looking for support. You know your weakness, and you want to overcome this. That's the first (and maybe, one of the most important!!) steps to become a good manager.

Now, what would be advisable in such situation is to establish as clear as possible what's expected to be delivered and when it's expected to be delivered. The management work is to track progress and make sure the communication is flowing. You act as a gateway between the stakeholders and the development team. If the expectations are too high, you must state this now, adding on top of it that the level of uncertainty due to all variables is quite high.

Success!

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Can you be a good Project Manager without experience? Certainly. It has been done before, and it will be done again.

Consider Joel Spolsky, who founded Stack Exchange, who wrote Joel on Software, and who founded Fog Creek Software. In his words, "I started my career at Microsoft, a little software company outside of Seattle, where I was a program manager on the Excel team." He must have done a good job because the product he helped develop (Visual Basic for Apps) is something I continue to use on a daily basis.

If you feel like you're deficient in a skill, then learn the skill. If you are managing people, read books, attend classes, and work at it until you're good at managing people. If you need to know a specific framework or API, then read the documentation, build projects, and learn it. Here's an awesome story about how Mr. Spolsky did just that, and rocked his employee review with Bill Gates because of it.

I'm not saying it will be easy. I'm just saying it's possible.

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