Saturday, December 15, 2012

7 Mistakes Project Managers Make

By Sean McPheat.

There are many mistakes that managers can make if they are not careful, which can be really damaging for the business and for their team – such as failing to give feedback, being overly critical and micromanaging – but project managers in particular can also be in danger of committing the following mistakes within their role.

1. Mistaking The Map For The Land

If a project plan calls for something to happen in a certain way, and that is not how it is happening, revise the plan to reflect reality. Do not try to force reality to conform to the plan. It often won’t fit exactly the way you had planned it, and you need to move with the progress of a project, not stand in the way of progress because it isn't going in the direction you had planned.

2. Over-Delegating

Project managers are supposed to manage the workload of a project, it is true. However, there are tasks that they also need to accomplish. If the project manager’s name does not appear as the responsible party on any of the line items, it is likely some of the work that rightly should have been done by the project manager has been delegated to people it is not appropriate for.

3. Failing To Provide Consequences

If people miss deadlines for their tasks, there are consequences. Other people may need to work harder to make up for lost time, or the overall project may fail to meet deliverables – resulting in penalties or lost business. If the project manager doesn’t impose consequences for the person who missed the deadline, they will continue to miss deadlines in the future. These consequences do not need to be imposed during a project meeting (as criticizing in public is never a good idea) but they do need to be imposed.

4. Lack Of Clarity

The project manager needs to provide complete clarity about the expected deliverables. For example consider the International Space Station, where one team implemented a module using imperial measurements, while the other team implemented a module using metric measurements. When the time came to connect the modules, they did not fit. If you aren’t clear in how things should be done then mistakes like this will become more and more frequent.

5. Measuring Instead Of Managing

It doesn't matter how impressive your Microsoft skills are, eventually you need to stop measuring the progress of your project and take some action to insure it continues to progress, develop and grow. The job title is project manager, not project measurer so remember that when you are dealing with your accounts.

6. Managing Time Instead Of Tasks

Project management tools allow you to assign a certain number of man-hours to a task. However, what is important is not how much time the employee puts in on the task, what is important is whether or not the task gets done.

I’m not saying that if your employees are quite blatantly wasting time by spending 2 hours on something that you know is only a 30 minute job that you should ignore it as long as the job gets done – but sometimes you cannot account for extra time that has to be spent making changes or time lost on technical problems, so set your team a realistic deadline for completion and focus on meeting this rather than ensuring that they are putting in the right number of hours every week.

7. Playing Favorites

If the same team member is constantly being recognized for their contributions whilst others hardly get any recognition of their work, it starts to breed resentment among the rest of the team. You may have a superstar on your team, who produces more than all the other team members put together, but it is still a team and you must help them to function and behave as a team. Your superstar wouldn’t be able to do all that they do without the support of the other team members. Recognize everyone who contributes and avoid creating a jealous working culture.

What mistakes have you seen other project managers make and what advice do you have to fix them?

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