As I read the various blogs / articles and papers on how to be successful as a Project Manager, it got me thinking of what not to do as a Project Manager. Over a 26 – 27 year career as a Project Manager, I have seen some major do not’s and it is only in hindsight that these become my lessons for the future. If a project manager has little or no time to do the things required in the managing of a project, then it can become a pressure valve for project management whereby incorrect decisions are made and perhaps the time is being spent on things that a project manager should not be doing. From experience, there are myriad reasons of why project managers take the wrong route on things, it could be because people are skeptical of, the true value of project management or that the project manager simply does not understand what is expected of them in a project management role. If it very often the second reason that is the true reason as to why project managers do things that are not always of value to their role / profession.
Here are our top five ‘don’ts’ of a project manager. Feel free to agree / disagree but as always, we hope it gets you thinking on what they items can be:
- Don’t get into the weeds of the detail: – In most cases, the management of a project does not offer spare time to get involved in the weeds of the project. There is an old expression, there is devil in the detail and this is so correct and is especially true on large and/or complex projects. A project manager can easily focus on various line items of the project while failing to ignore the big hitters that exist around the project. If you want to be stuck in the weeds and want to live in the detail, stop being a project manager. The job of the project manager is to focus on the relationship and manage the expectations.
- Don’t take a short corner route for your own gain: – Taking a short corner is really focusing on lack of engagement, one of the surest ways of alienating any stakeholder is when they find out about things too late. The project manager is then becoming the master of ceremonies rather than the facilitator of ceremonies. Avoid the temptation to place meetings in front of stakeholders and then they have to attend every meeting invited to. Keep people informed as you go along and adopt the principle of ‘Management by Walking Around’ … yes the great discipline of MBWA.
- Don’t keep problems to yourself: – This is a form of procrastinating that has little value to the role of a project management. You procrastinate which means the business will procrastinate and that means we all will procrastinate. This is one of the most wasteful activities that a project manager can do. A lot of project managers do not have the time to do the things they should be doing but in this case project managers should focus on the essentials of what needs to be done. Very often the focus of procrastination is on the difficult items or the items that there is no solution for. WE rarely procrastinate on the easy things
- Don’t be afraid to challenge those around you: – It is an impossibility to please everyone all the time but it is important to challenge and maybe at times challenge the level of complacency at time. Understand the key project constituents and stakeholders and then focus your attention on them. Challenge is not always focused on the conflict mode of operation but sometimes it is being creative and focusing on possible inertia within the project.
- Don’t ever think it is going to be a walk in the park: – Project managers need to get out from behind the desk. It is easy to get managed by email, most of which is an annoyance and unrelated to the project. If working in a virtual environment, get on the phone and build relationships with the project team. Speaking with people can help you identify risks and uncover those issues that are smoldering fires before they become the fires take holder. It is not going to be easy to do and more importantly don’t ever believe it is going to be easy to get to grips with this.
Our hope here, is that this gets you thinking about the not do’s of project management and sometimes it is the simple things. We are sure that you have others that spring to mind, and please do feel free to share and bring this to us.