Project management is an industry that is thriving at the moment, and it is not difficult to see why. This is a career path that can take you all over the world, and it is one of the unique jobs whereby you can work in any industry, from software development and finance to construction and retail. If you are thinking about heading down this career path or you have recently secured your first project management role, read on to discover some of the most common mistakes that new project managers make so that you can avoid them.
Micromanaging – This is something a lot of project managers are guilty of. They try to take over every task because they cannot let go of any control. Does this sound familiar? Well, you employed your team for a reason, so you should trust them. No one likes to feel like they have got someone over their shoulder watching their every move. Plus, if you do this, you will simply be wasting your own time, which could be better spent on more important matters.
Playing the blame game – When something goes wrong, it can be easy to try and blame someone else because you do not want the finger to be pointed at you. However, you fail and win as a team, and there is no point dwelling on the past. There are always going to be moments whereby mistakes are made and projects fail. It is how you react to these scenarios that really matters. You need to assess what happened so you can learn from it and ensure it does not happen again. This will ensure you have more success on your projects going forward. After all, project management is a learning curve.
Poor scheduling or no schedule at all – It is important to break your big tasks down into smaller tasks. This is part of agile project management. This will help your staff to stay motivated because they will be working towards smaller milestones, rather than feeling like they have a mountain to climb to reach the end goal. To ensure your team is on track and works efficiently, you should make the most of templates for staff scheduling. A simple weekly schedule can make all of the difference in terms of ensuring your team puts in the required hours and that people are working on the right things. Without structure, it can be easy for people to be on the wrong page, and this is how projects fall behind.
Overlooking the importance of continual training – It is likely that you have already taken some type of project management training course in order to get to the position you are at. However, this is not enough. To be effective, you should never stop learning. This is because project management is a career that never remains stagnant. There are always new trends, tech, and processes to learn about. If you want to stay ahead of the game, you cannot rely on the education you used to get into it. The best project managers never stop learning.
Trying to do everything yourself – A lot of project managers fall into the trap of trying to do everything themselves. However, your team is there for a reason, so you need to make the most of them by delegating tasks. After all, you are not achieving anything by trying to do too much. You will be spreading yourself too thin, and your time would be better spent on the important tasks. Delegating smartly is one of the key skills the best project managers’ posses.
Failing to manage project scoop – This is a mistake that virtually every project manager experiences at some point. This is because often clients do not even know what they want to begin with. Then, once the project commences, they start to ask for more and more things. Because you do not want to disappoint, you find yourself saying yes to everything. However, this means that it becomes impossible for your team to achieve these new targets within the original project plans regarding the timeline and the budget. Therefore, whenever the client asks for something new, you need to explain the impact this is going to have on the deadline and the cost.
No risk management – One of the worst things you can do as a project manager is simply react to risks when they become a problem. If you do this, you will waste a huge chunk of time, and this can completely destroy your project. Instead, during the planning phase, you need to identify any potential risks to your project. You can then put the required measures in place to mitigate these risks. This will reduce the chance of these risks occurring. Moreover, if something does go wrong, you will be prepared and you can react straight away.
Overpromising – It can be very tempting to overpromise because you want to secure the client and you want them to be impressed. But, when you do this, you only disappoint your client in the end because you have promised them something that you cannot deliver. Not only this, but because you have set your team up for failure, this can have an extremely negative impact on morale.
Communication breakdown – If there is one ingredient that is critical to the success of any project, it is communication. As the project manager, it is up to you to communicate with everyone that is impacted by the project frequently and efficiently. You need to be honest and you need to ensure that you give the stakeholders and clients regular updates. Don’t keep bad news to yourself. It will only blow up in your face when the situation gets worse.
Failing to adjust course when things go wrong – Being stubborn can come back to bite you as a project manager. There comes a time when you need to admit that what you are doing is not working. Hopefully, this will not happen very often, but when it does, you need to recognise when it is time to cut your losses and jump ship.
Poor software selection – Last but not least, tech has completely changed projects. Software can help you to monitor your team and communicate much more efficiently. You can also handle large quantities of data and rapidly analyse it, as well as automating time-consuming tasks. However, you need to choose software with care. Make sure it makes sense for you and your team. Do not just choose it for the sake of it.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding regarding some of the common mistakes that new project managers make. From micromanaging to failing to schedule effectively, there are lots of hiccups you can experience along the way. However, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is never learning from your errors. There are going to be instances whereby projects fail and things go wrong. However, if you assess what happened and determine what you can do better going forward, rather than playing the blame game, you will succeed in this career.
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