5 Common Project Management Mistakes


When you learn that a project you managed failed, it’s hard to imagine a worse bit of information to receive at a department meeting. But rather than worry that you aren’t cut out for the job, take action and rethink your processes. Here are 5 common project manager mistakes. Do they sound familiar?

Mistake #1: Not enough authority

Senior management are the people who ensure that your project can become the engine for change. If they are not completely on board, your project will have a difficult time succeeding. However, they might also leave you in limbo when you are given responsibility for a project but not the full authority. Without authority, your project could fail.

Since the project must still be managed, you need to enhance your referent power, which is your savvy leadership style, or your expert power, which is your knowledge and capabilities, as well as your powers of persuasion to manage the job. When you master your skills, you can manage projects even when you think that you have insufficient formal power.

Mistake #2: Careless planning

When you sat down to plan the project, was the entire team included in determining how the project would meet its outcomes?

Avoid this mistake by getting your team involved early so they, too, are invested in the process and the outcome. Communicate clearly what roles will be assigned to each team member, and then create a schedule, outline additional resources, and a communication plan. If your team is confident in the plan, you will be more likely to successfully meet deadlines and complete the project.

Mistake #3: Mis-managing expectations

No matter what the project is, unattainable expectations can arise. As the project manager, you must manage expectations so that everyone is working toward the same outcome.

This is easily accomplished by breaking down your project into manageable pieces. You have to establish reasonable deliverables over the entire life span of the project so you can demonstrate what work is being done, the stage in the project’s lifetime, and ultimately, that the project is moving along toward completion.

Mistake #4: Micromanaging your team

If the project is to be finished, and finished on time, then everyone involved needs to know clearly what their role is and what is expected. Micromanaging can destroy the team moral and the project’s success. Micromanagement is actually mismanagement in action.

Delegate the responsibilities to your team, who are experts in their field. Your job is to show them the direction for the project, make sure the work gets done and cheerlead. A group that is micromanaged is less efficient and effective and can help to derail your project.

Mistake #5: Ending too early

You think that the project is done, or you are simply done with the project and you pass it on, or simply fail to clean up the loose ends. Completing the project must include every last detail.

Ask for input from the project’s sponsor and all stakeholders to make up a checklist on what small tasks must be finished before they believe the project is done.

When you get to the end of your project, and you have managed your authority, planned carefully including expectations, did not micromanage, and ensured that all involved agreed the project is finished, take some time to congratulate your team. After all, they were key players in your success.


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