Newsflash…there are some things we are doing as project managers that are wrong. Just wrong. They seem logical. Everyone does these things, right? We are expected to do these things…accommodate everyone…play nice with management. Think again. Project success depends heavily on your customer’s perception of the project and outcome. Always keep that in mind…and read on…
Multi-tasking is overrated. You might disagree, but I’ve found more success with starting a day or a period of time by ranking critical outstanding tasks by degree of difficulty and estimated time to completion. Using a combination of that information I am able to rank what I should do first, second, third and so on. Since I’ve been doing this I find myself getting more done each day and never finding myself at the end of the day with fourteen tasks started but none finished. My frustration level has decreased exponentially.
Flexing for late comers to project meetings.
To all those push over project managers who find themselves stopping and taking the time to “catch up” individuals who always show up late to meetings… I say “STOP!!!” Stop accommodating that behaviour and it will stop happening. In fact, whenever possible, make it a point to call on those individuals first for assignments and inputs. Don’t make them look like fools, but see an opportunity to call on them soon after their arrival and you may not have them showing up late anymore.
Following senior management’s every wish.
Senior management signs your checks, but they aren’t always right. I was steered wrong at the same organisation by the same PMO director twice and it caused two of my projects – both very large dollar projects – to be outright cancelled by the customer. My motto generally is this…”You’re only as successful as your last customer thinks you are.” And it is even more so since those two projects. Customer satisfaction is critical to project success. If you make the customer happy, then usually everyone is happy.
Screaming “out of scope!”
Scope management is critical to success in terms of staying on time and on budget. But be careful not to make every little thing a scope issue. Give some. And if it’s important enough and big enough, let the client know you feel it may be out of scope but you’re not going to fight them on this one. They will remember and that may work in your favour down the road. The last thing customers want to hear about all the time are change orders. Avoid them if you can because they will just happen often enough anyway.
Being your customer’s best friend.
While standing up for the best interests of the project and project customer is commendable and – in my opinion – a very high priority, that does not mean that the project manager is your new best friend. You must be professional, manage scope, be a strong leader of the project, and…yes…be heavy handed with the project customer if they are slowing the project down. Just because they are the customer, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to manage them closely and keep them engaged and in line. Their priorities are not always going to match well with your priorities and they may act or commit actions that are not in line with the best interests for the project – intentionally or unintentionally. You need to be a strong enough leader to call them out on that and get the project – and the customer – focused and back on track.
Summary / call for input
Some things we keep doing over and over again as project managers should maybe taken out of the rotation. For me, it’s this list of five that I’ve found – through experience and from interaction with colleagues – to be a great place to start.
What about our readers? What are your thoughts on this list? What would you add as far as actions that you could or should stop today that would probably make you a better project manager? It’s ok…share…you’re in a safe place.