Common Mistakes in Project Management

August 31, 2017

Napoleon once said: Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake. Well, today enemy is renamed “competition”, and Bonaparte’s words still stand tall. Do your best not to make mistakes and you won’t be bothered by this monition.

Sounds simple, right?

If you read carefully this blog and apply Teodesk advice that follows bellow, it will indeed be easy.

Let’s be brutally honest. Making mistakes in any kind of management directly means lost time, money, and client’s trust. In today’s world, that usually means you can retire, no matter how young you are. Second chances are rarely given.

This is why you have before you a list of most common mistakes done in project and operation management.

The first step that needs to be taken is establishing a clear definition of client’s expectations. Many mistakes that drown the project for good are made due to mismanaging expectations from the very beginning. Not a single detail should be implied, a good manager talks about everything – with his team as well as his client. It is better to be somewhat tedious (at the beginning at least) that to suffer from failing to deliver what client had in mind. As usually, communication is the key. Discuss scope, deliverables, timing, communications, and process, keep them in the open dialogue all the time and you’ll be just fine.

OK, now that you know how to overcome the first trap in every management, it is time to learn how to recognize a next possible red flag. A lack of communication is closely linked to the previous mistake of mismanaged expectations, so we won’t be verbose in explaining it. It is quite simple – put yourself out there and be an easy and friendly communicator. Do not hesitate to set some basic communication guidelines and a routine, like regular meetings (online or face-to-face) for the purpose of continuous status check-ins and deliverable reviews. The well-informed team is more engaged and motivated to work. The well-connected team is a productive and happy team.

Let us be very clear – tools are marvelous, it’s pure magic sometimes. They work so hard for us, making our plans neat and fully organized. Last few years software is even more intuitive and sometimes we get a feeling that it is our best and smartest colleague. Beware, though! If a manager relies on it beyond measure and control, it can easily backfire on him. No functionality can replace the brainwork, no matter how intuitive and complexly. Do not reckon on a machine, your stream of consciousness is irreplaceable and your human experience is priceless!

Another common mistake is a shortage of flexibility and the ability to improvise on the spot. Operations, activities and projects develop quickly, bringing on changes on a daily level. It is easy to miss deadlines or being forced for some reason to change the general direction. The first rule is not to panic. Take a deep breath, sit down with your team, listen to their suggestions and adapt as best as you can, in given circumstances. Never forget that you are a captain and it is your duty to guide the team in the right direction. Being rigid and too stubborn about one type of approach never helped anybody, it won’t help you either. Keep an open and fresh mind, never ignore the fact that sometimes the best way is to start all over again, from the scratch.

To try and predict these changes, you must not make a mistake of avoiding solid and thorough risk management. Be certain to create a list of potential obstacles and risks that your team might encounter on its way. Together with your team do some research and come up with an action plan for every potential roadblock, and to do so, you need to know every possible detail of your activity, from every possible perspective. Delegate a team member in charge for a certain type of risk and in case some risks do become a reality, simply activate that person to act as planned and agreed beforehand.

This is the moment when the other mistake, the one of not investing time and effort in hiring the right team, will come for a payback. In these days, it takes so much more than a CV, cover letter or even an interview to consider and evaluate a person as a future irreplaceable member of a team. The one that will fit in with no problem and contribute considerably to the common goal.

You need to follow up your employees or colleagues, get to know them and be able to evaluate their skills for a certain job.

It mismanaging team member skill sets should be avoided at all cost. Right from the start, you can match them to the right task, and save time and nerves. It is crucial for the good leader to know how to get the optimal results out of the people.

Providing a too optimistic timeline is yet another trap many managers fall into in order to please the client. Usually, they really think it could be done, but deep down they all know that Woody Allen was right when he said that if you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans. Our advice is to avoid this path and use software smartly– Teodesk, for example, allows you to control time by restricting it and with its comprehensive and versatile reminder and annual, a monthly and daily overview of all activities it makes you the Time Lord, pulling all the strings and having everything under control.

Of course, the list of mistakes done in management can go on and on. We chose the most common ones, so you can make a framework and avoid the biggest risks. The most valuable advice we saved for the end – do not make the mistake of not knowing when to ask for help. And the very last one, but not the least one, is the one you probably heard many times, starting with your mother, teacher and wise friends – ALWAYS LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES. Otherwise, they were in vain.

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