Being a project manager comes with a lot of responsibility. You will be expected to oversee and execute entire projects and even the slightest of mistakes can have a drastic effect on the plan as a whole. Although this can be an intimidating task to take on, there are some common mistakes that you can educate yourself on so that you don’t make them in the future. If you’re trying to improve the efficiency and quality of your work as a project manager, here are some commonly made project management mistakes that can easily be avoided.
1. Failing to Properly Define the Goal or Goals of a Project
A project that doesn’t have a clearly defined goal or set of goals during the initial crafting phase of the project is almost certainly going to fail. Although this seems like something that most project managers will already have this in mind when they first begin forming a project plan, it is often something that project managers overlook early in their careers.
When you first begin putting a project together, it is absolutely vital that you identify the major goal(s) of your project and discuss this with your team members. This helps you and your team identify what you are working towards and how you are going to get there in order to meet those goals. Without direction, your project and your employees are going to be highly unorganized.
2. Not Clearly Mapping Out Your Project During the Initial Planning Phase
The problem with projects that are not mapped out is that goals can often seem too big for individuals to tackle, which can cause team members to procrastinate or to tackle the project in the wrong way. After all, there are always several ways to achieve a goal and if there is no definitive plan on how you should get there, it gives people the freedom to interpret a plan in any way they like. This can cause major issues within a project.
To avoid team confusion and possible delays or cancellations due to unfinished projects, break down your project into small, bite-sized tasks that will make it easier for your team to stay on track and keep their confidence levels up. When you’re all on board with a plan, it makes it easier for each team member to complete their tasks and keep the project moving smoothly.
If you need additional guidance, check out a blog, like this new project management blog, PM Column, where you can hone skills to help you plan and execute projects.
3. Choosing the Wrong Members for Your Project
Your team is going to determine the outcome of your project. If you have a team with the proper skill sets, you are going to complete your project successfully. If you choose the wrong people for your project, which is a mistake that many project managers make when they first start out, you are going to have difficulty completing your project.
Before you start selecting people for your project, carefully consider each of their skills and whether or not they will be compatible with your project and its goals. Beyond the skills that they have, you will also need to look at how well they will work with the other individuals that you have put on your team as well. A cohesive team is the biggest factor in whether or not your project is going to succeed or fail.
4. Underestimating the Amount of Time or Resources a Project Will Need
Positivity is necessary if you are going to organize and handle whole teams and large projects as a project manager. However, there is a fine line between positivity and realism and it is a common mistake to think that you will be able to complete a project with a shorter timeframe or with a smaller budget than most projects of your size will require.
When you first sit down and begin mapping out your project, look into the expenses of each of the aspects of your project and come up with a budget that gives a little bit of extra room for unforeseen expenses. Then, take a look at each point of your project and determine how long it should take for each task given the team’s skills and average time spent on their work. If you evaluate each of these parts and think realistically, you should be fine as you move forward with your project.
5. Trying to Tackle a Project on Your Own
As a project manager, it may seem as though you are in control of everything. True, you are tasked with a putting a team together and creating a solid plan to make sure that your project is seen through successfully. However, it does not mean that you should completely ignore your team and dismiss ideas that your team members have that could potentially improve the project overall.
The key to being a good leader is listening to your team and making sure that all members are able to express their ideas and communicate with each other. As long as you listen to your team and make sure that they are comfortable with the way the project is planned and executed, you should not experience too many problems with your team that could affect the entire project.
6. Lacking Clear Priorities and Team Management
On one hand, you do not want to micromanage your projects and frustrate your team by taking too much control. On the other end of the spectrum, we have beginner project managers who are too relaxed on their projects and who do not properly manage their team, prioritize the most important tasks, and communicate project status to stakeholders.
While you don’t want to be a project manager goes too far with a project, you must stay on top of your team and your team’s tasks to make sure that your project goes according to plan. If you focus on tasks that don’t absolutely need to be done at the moment or if you let your team run rampant, you may face failure.
Project management can be difficult but once you understand some of the mistakes that other project managers are facing, you will be better set up for success. Use these six tips above to help you avoid these mistakes and make each project a successful one.