It was a revolving door of project managers. The project suffered from scope creep, warring factions, unrealistic deadlines, and a bloated corporate culture. I was tasked with training each new PM and taking on the projects they oversaw when they quit. There in nine PMs in total. I don’t know why I stayed as long as I did. It was a miserable experience. Backstabbing was commonplace.
I juggled more projects than I could count and more team members than any other project I’d worked on before. In spite of it, my boss was impressed. He pulled me aside and offered to enroll me in a leadership training program at the company. I clearly had some skills. My previous experience had prepared me well.
But the stress and tension in the project was already pervasive and intense. There was so much to do and so much to recover from before I even got there.
We were turning it around. We were making progress. The first rollouts had begun. The enterprise software was getting deployed. If I knew anything, it was how to deploy enterprise software.
Still the project was under enormous strain. One day, my boss was having trouble with a printer. We were in different parts of the building, and he sent me his presentation to print out for him. I dutifully printed it out and walked it over to him. As I walked, I thumbed through it, I was aware of most things going on in the project. I got to the middle of the presentation, and I saw my name. I looked closer and saw that he was blaming me for all the woes of the project. All the delays and issues were due to me.
My heart dropped out of the floor of my chest. None of it was true. I had worked insane hours, took on project after project after project within the overall program to get it on track. Things were turning from the mess I had walked into.
I handed him the slide deck but before I could get a word out, he bolted off for the meeting.
I was fuming. Down in the cafeteria I bumped into the Customer Contact Executive for my company. I asked him if he knew that I was being thrown under the bus at this very moment.
“It has to be done. We need a scapegoat. It’s bigger than you. It’s about the project.”
“But I’m doing good work. I’m the only project manager who stayed. Look what I’ve done.”
“You are doing good work. But in order to salvage the project someone has to be sacrificed.”