We’ve been talking a lot about what a project manager can come up with to increase the overall work efficiency, that it seems like there are no drawbacks at all. This includes everything – different methodologies, daily meetings, how to communicate with your team and clients, how to start your day effectively, what are the most productive hours of the day and so on.
It seems like whatever learnings you implement are going to benefit your work or the work of the team. Are they though?
While trying to boost the effectiveness of your team and get your projects rolling, there are a number of hidden traps that seem beneficial at first, but turn around at you with fangs and claws if you are not careful.
Let’s salvage some of these traps and see what we learn from them.
1. Being a good boss
If this sounds contradicting to you and you are like “what do you mean, it’s all about tasks and deadlines”, don’t rush to judgement.
Project management is about a lot of things, but first and foremost it’s about human relationships. If your team is unhappy with you as a person (even if you are the best strategic, highly intelligent, overly productive whatever boss) there is always going to be this somewhat negative, tense environment that will by all means hinder the progress of the project. What you need to be is a leader.
Humans have the ability to do incredible, unbelievable stuff when working together towards the same goal. The key point is, they work together because they want to, they take pleasure in it, it’s their passion and so on, not because there is a deadline they have to meet or they risk getting fired. When I say doing incredible things I mean things like... planting 6 million trees or getting a city build from scratch in one day. Sounds pretty decent to me.
As Henry Ford once said “Coming together is the beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success.” If you are a boss, you will keep the team together at best, but if you want success, you should be a leader.
2. Meetings within meetings
When working with people it’s important to keep their spirits and enthusiasm up 24/7. Multiple, irrelevant meetings aren’t exactly what you should go after to achieve this goal. Sure, meetings are important and if you are using the Scrum methodology for example, they become essential. But the thing is, a methodology is not a clear, step by step Lego instruction on how to build a castle, it’s a guide that is aimed to give you an idea about how different stuff can be done. If you hold constant meetings, which are basically just a waste of time and your argument is “well the book says we have to do it everyday, three times a day bla, bla, bla...” you aren’t adding much enthusiasm. If something isn’t working out, another meeting to discuss the previous meeting isn’t going to solve anything. It’s like watching “Inception” for the first time: There is so much confusion going on, you end up with more questions than answers.
Having one effective meeting, even if it takes a bit longer, is going to accomplish more than multiple meetings for practically no reason except that “the book says so.”
It’s very easy to fall for this one. Just remember that you have to be on the constant lookout to see how are things working out. If something is wrong, pushing in the same direction even more is probably a bad idea.
3. Assuming people know what’s in your head
Telekinesis is good stuff. It’s a shame we aren’t quite there yet with the implementation or understanding of it. Most of the times, people don’t know what you have in mind and even if it’s the smallest of things, it’s going to cause trouble at some point. As a project manager, you not only need to know exactly what you need to do and why, you also have to deliver that idea clearly to your audience, in this case, your team.
Different people understand different ideas in multiple, different ways. If you leave those ideas unattended, things may get ugly pretty soon. People might do something that is correct from their perspective, but it might not be what you had in mind. This will result in confusion, double work and frustration in the least. So until telekinesis tech is there to back you up, you should keep the idea transfer verbal.
4. Not using project management software
To understand where your project is going, you need to have a macro view of it. Think of if like a big battleground: If you focus on small things here and there and devote enough time to work them perfectly, you will win a few battles. Will you win the war though?
Without seeing the big picture, you won’t be able to make out if those small things are contributing to the overall project or did you lose track of the end goal along the way. Project management software is the perfect answer to this issue. Working with separate Excel sheets, multiple software pieces for each aspect is a lot of trouble to go with.
It’s technically possible to combine everything if you possess inhuman stamina and mental stability, but why go through all that trouble every two weeks week for each different project? Project management software will allow you to see everything in one place anytime you like. It’s also going to help with communication and collaboration. If every team member is on the same page and everything is laid down clearly, the work is so much more efficient. You can save up to an hour per employee every day on unnecessary tasks, not to mention time cut on managing multiple files for each project.
You can manage a small project with three people involved without a project management software, you might even get away with five, but when your team consists of 10+ members, you are forcing yourself into a world of unnecessary hurt.
Project management can be very tricky. Day one – you think you are doing pretty good, day ten – you don’t even know where you went wrong. This happens a lot, more than you think. Take a look at a combination of studies by International Project Leadership Academy. you don’t even need to read all the numbers carefully. Pick some at random and nine out of ten times you will see a statistic that states 50% or more project failure around the world. Tread lightly 🙂