I’ve dealt with lots of PMs in current and past lives, and often filled in as the PM though I rarely had the official PM title. Over time I’ve found a really good sign the PM is on the ball is that they occasionally get on my nerves.
I remember after working on a difficult project where the PM was pretty much out to lunch. OK, literally out to lunch. The PM took at least one unannounced 2 week vacation to Europe at one point. Since this was 2000, the infamous dotcom era, no one lost their jobs. Anyway not long after my team got handed another project and I noticed after the first 3 days the PM had called me from San Francisco at least once per day. So on the 4th day I congratulated the PM who seemed a bit surprised. I explained it was nice to get pinged everyday about open issues, since on the last project I couldn’t even get ahold of the PM.
Since then I always think to myself as I get slightly annoyed with a ‘red for urgent’ email from a PM, that at least they’re paying attention and trying to move the project forward. There’s of course a fine line where the PM becomes distracting because they’re going around asking for status every few hours or wanting yet another estimate of how long it will take to fix a defect. Anyway whenever one of my developers complains to me about a PM I tend to take it with a grain of salt unless that PM already has a proven track record of mindless pestering.