Any manager regardless of type who does not have authority is nothing more than a general clerk.
This especially goes for Project Managers who by definition have total responsibility for the successful completion of their project plan.
Imagine a liberalised democratic captain of a ship who's owners can't or won't make up their minds or support his actions, while trying to navigate by consensus through perilous stormy seas. DISASTER!!!
Therefore the last question that any Project Manager should demand a clear and concise answer for, at his or her interview is 'What authority do I have'.
If the answer is anything other than ‘YOU HAVE FULL MANAGERIAL RIGHTS AND AUTHORITY’ then do not take on the job, if you do take it on, you are probably doomed to fail or at least have a highly stressful time with the company.
Just because you have authority does not mean you have to use it or wave it around like a sabre to instil the fear of god into people. In fact the best managers hardly ever use their innate authority to get things done. However, if you do not have it, people very quickly try it on and lose respect for you (take the example of the plastic policemen as an instance) and your job becomes much much harder.
The next thing is to set the precedence of how you are going to be treat and how you intend to work with both team members that you control and those above you who’s services you will need to do your job.
If necessary, tell them straight, I do not set myself up to fail and I wont allow anyone else to set me up to fail.
Either you give me full open and continuous support on time or get someone else to play your management games.
Being open, honest and straight with people and setting the ground rules sorted out from the outset of your job will save you embarrassments, time and many sleepless nights throughout your career with the company.
You will also gain a whole lot of respect and trust as being a true professional of equal value to other professionals in the company.
Mind you, you will probably fail a lot more interviews from scumbag firms like the one mentioned by Imran with this attitude but lets face it, do you really want to work for that sort of firm?
Is it the worst IT project ever?
Probably not, there are hundreds of ill conceived, unprincipled and un ethical scumbag firms out there who are just waiting to pray on unsuspecting customers.
Just watch rogue traders on the TV to see exactly what I mean.
Should Imran have told the client?
From a personal ethical point of view no, not while he is employed by this firm, you can never take a firms money and then betray them to their customers. Just not done.
What should Imran have done?
At the interview he should have set the ground rules for his employment better.
He should not have allowed himself to be intimidated by his line manager.
He should have analysed the situation and gathered factual evidence to support his case and then wrote a critical report for his line manager.
If she acted as the story suggested then he should have cc'd a copy of the report to the directors of the company so that he knew that they were aware of the problem.
His duty of care to the company outweighs the perceived but not reciprocated loyalty from his line manager.
If there was no chance of a satisfactory solution to the problem and or there was hostility towards him then all bets are off and he should have tendered his resignation while his integrity and reputation was in tact.
What would you have done?
As above, but I would have probably made friends with the directors of the client company as well. After tendering my resignation (by doing so freeing myself from any loyalty obligations to that scumbag company) I would have invited the client manager or director out to dinner or drinks one evening and passed them a copy of my report and made an offer to sort out the problem for them.
Who knows, I may have then been working for a grateful and appreciative company who valued my skill and professionalism and at the same time saved them years of wasted money.
In business, ethics, loyalty, trust, respect and any other acronym you care to mention to suggest good business practice is a two way street if a company does not practice it then they have no right to expect it.