The primary role of a project manager is to mitigate risk and make sure projects proceeded smoothly. One way to do so is to avoid some of the most common mistakes made by project managers. Many project management certification will teach you these fundamentals, but it’s easy to forget the basics from time to time. So, to refresh your memory, here are 5 common mistake project managers need to avoid:
- Selecting the wrong personalities for the job - People bring more than just skills to a project. They have a functional job role but also a psychological role. Getting a great team together involves balancing the right mix of skills and personalities. Grouping together people who just don’t get along is a bad idea, that much is obvious. Once you’re confident that your team brings all the skills you need to complete, the next step should be to assign tasks based on soft-skills and values. Don’t throw around tasks haphazardly, experienced project managers need to know how to use personality-focused team models such as DiSC or Belbin’s 9 Team Roles. These tools help you select the best personality for a role such as managing stakeholders, analyzing quantitative feedback or motivating others. Failure to do so might severely hamper productivity. But, if you do, you’ll build a super team that’s greater than the sum of its’ parts.
- Micromanagement - Project managers are not project developers. Ultimately, you’re only ever indirectly responsible for the completion of a project. Trying to have a hand in every single process will destroy your teams’ productivity. You need to distance yourself from the mindset of unerring perfection and bloated risk-averse practices common to many project managers. Yes, things go wrong. But, the trick is to educate your teams in how to solve problems without your help. If you can’t embrace experimentation, failure and self-organizing workforces, you will fail as a project manager. Nothing slows down project development more than excessive meddling from middle-management. You need to ensure your teams have the space necessary to quickly and adequately perform their roles. This means distancing yourself and other managers from the project.
- Poor reportage - Documentation is hardy a thrilling topic and unfortunately, creating a hub for all documentation, ensuring relevant information is neatly organized and easily accessible will occupy a lot of your time as a project manager. All too often, complex projects will run into difficulties taking stakeholders by surprise. This can all be avoided by maintaining a neat catalog of information you can present to stakeholders at regular intervals. A basic project status report should include any changes made to a project, any shifts in the development timeline, a list of upcoming milestones and most importantly, a list of those issues that will require stakeholders’ direct input. Sometimes, you may find yourself having to explain to stakeholders why deadlines have been missed. If this is the case, having correct documentation can help you track down the issue that caused delays and can help stakeholders better understand the problems faced by your team.
- Scope creep - You need to proactively manage your projects’ scope. When clients request a change to the development you need to make sure to involve your project team before confirming any deviation from the plan. Even the smallest changes can sometimes lead to a total shift in overall project goals. A large percentage of project teams aren’t given enough opportunity to voice their opinion when it comes to decision-making. Make sure to keep track of all changes and ensure they are well documented. When new requests are made, refer to this list to justify approving or rejecting changes to your project.
- Failure to establish stakeholder goals - You may know the goal of a project, your teams may know the goal of a project, but have you stopped to consider whether your stakeholders are similarly informed? Project managers need to make sure all stakeholders hold a common consensus regarding project goals and success criteria. Ensure all goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely) and that all stakeholders understand what direction the project might take before you execute the plan.
This Project Management article compliments of Patrick Del Rosario ~ Click Here to learn more about Patrick Del Rosario.