“I don’t think I missed anything,” Anne replied. “I don’t think I knew what I was looking for when I hired George. He was a good senior project manager, but I think I underestimated the level of work of an Operations Manager.”
“What’s the difference?” I asked.
“Our senior project managers can handle two to three large projects at the same time. But we expect our Operations Manager to manage all 36 projects.”
“It’s just more projects,” I chuckled. “Seriously, can’t the Ops Manager run 36 projects the same way as three projects?”
Anne shook her head slowly side to side. “Actually, the Operations Manager doesn’t directly manage any single project, the role has to manage ALL the projects. The level of work is different.”
“How so?” I probed.
“The only way to manage ALL the projects is to create a competent team of project managers who manage the individual projects. If the Ops Manager builds a good team, then the role is a cakewalk. If the Ops Manager has weakness in the project manager team, then life will be miserable.”
“So, what’s the key difference in the level of work?” I pressed.
“A project manager (S-II) manages a process. It’s a coordinating role. The Operations Manager (S-III) has to create a system for managing ALL the projects. That’s where I went wrong when I hired George.”