While mentoring Project Managers over the years, I’ve noticed both the good and the bad. What are the top 5 mistakes Project Managers make? Well, we’re all different, but here are five sure ways to get shown the door both as a consultant and as an employee.
Top 5 Mistakes
Failure to Understand and Connect with Stakeholders
I don’t know why some project managers think that a PMI certificate and knowledge of the project management life cyle make them experts in… well, just about everything. Project Management is 1/3 PM knowledge, 1/3 Interpersonal Skills, and 1/3 Professional Competency. The Interpersonal Skills start off with, listening. Listen, Observe, Watch. Ask a lot questions to gain insight into your stakeholders and also the culture around you.
Failure to Understand Organizational Culture
Every organization is different. What works in one, may not work in another. There are four different types of culture that you can think about:
- Mission – Focus on the Mission
- Bureaucratic – Focus on the Process
- Clan – Focus on the People
- Entrepreneurial – Focus on Quick Execution
Example… If you work in an Entrepreneurial organization, don’t expect the PM Lifecycle to be followed precisely. You have to tailor it to fit your needs. The exact opposite would be true in a Bureaucratic organization.
Letting Passion Get in the Way of Managing or Leading
Project Management is about choices. If you are passionate about something, expect to run into some flack. Here is a question for you. Is it more important to meet the requirements, or to deliver something exceptional? Don’t misunderstand me here. I’m not talking about throwing quality out the window. Here is a scenario. You are given a project to complete and have crystal clear requirements. As you do your due diligence, you noticed how messed up the existing business processes are and you throw in fixing them too, even though it isn’t required. Is that the right thing to do? The younger me (about 20 years ago) would say yes. But experience has taught me different. No organization has unlimited resources, time and money. Projects are about choices. If you do one thing, you give up another. As the PM, it is not your place to decide what is best for the organization. If you see something that can be improved, raise it as an issue. Put it down as an option…but don’t let passion get in the way of supporting the final decision. I’ve seen a few PMs tick off senior management by stubbornly holding on to what they perceive as the “best” solution.
It is one thing to be assertive and confident, and another to be a complete jerk that pushes his or her way around. You can get people to do things for you without being confrontational. This doesn’t mean you should avoid issues or bad behavior in others. What it does mean is that a PM must have great interpersonal skills. At times you have to practice “Stealth” project management. Aspire to be the Yoda of Project Management. Get people to do things without them feeling like you’re hounding them or sitting on their desk.
For some reason, some PMs think that they don’t have to do any work because they are a “manager”. Yeah. Right. If anything, successful PMs work harder than anyone else on the team. Don’t come in late and leave early. Don’t leave your team alone as they try to figure out how to be a team. Don’t go into your office and close the door. Don’t talk before you listen. Don’t avoid conflict. Don’t delegate accountability – delegate tasks and responsibility. Don’t… be lazy.
All the best!
All the time!