The role of project manager can be a tough one when budgets, deadlines and the stakeholders all seem to be working against you. At times like this you will want to have a good, solid team of workers around you. Even then, there will be some things which you team members are liable to say which you won’t be too keen on though.
“It Can’t Be Done”
Rather than a flat “it can’t be done” I much prefer to hear “it can only be done if” or even “it can’t be done but what we can do is…” When I reported to my project managers in the old days I always tried to give them a response which left a door open. After becoming a project manager myself I have constantly encouraged my team members to give me alternatives rather than just come to me and say that something can’t be done and that’s the end of the story.
“There Is No Other Option”
This is similar to the last point but goes a bit further in my opinion. Even if there is one option which looks reasonable I want to hear about others. In my opinion there are always several ways of solving a problem and if you don’t analyze them all then you have no chance of picking the right one. If we start with the possibility of not doing anything at all and then move on from there we will find a range of different ways of solving even the most seemingly difficult issue.
“No One Will Even Notice”
This phrase usually comes after a sneaky compromise has been suggested. The person who says is knows that it is wrong but is suggesting that it will be ok in the end because no one will realize what we have done, or if they do the project will be long finished. I have been lucky in not yet working with a project manager who liked this approach so I learned to avoid it too. It simply isn’t worth the headache and the guilty conscience which come with doing something you know isn’t right. A far better, and more professional approach is to see whether you can still do things the right way. If it is completely impossible then it is time to advise the stakeholders and see if you can get their agreement to the compromise you have come up with for them.
“We Will Find a Way of Doing It Eventually”
When someone suggests that they will “find a way” of doing something then it suggests that they don’t really know how to do it and are hoping that things work out well by some sort of unspecified magic formula. If you like to run a well planned project then you will want to know exactly how everything will be done. It is okay giving your team leeway to be creative and get things done in the way they think is best but you don’t want them winging it and making it up as they go along. In my experience some of the tasks which can prove most troublesome are those which appear to be easiest. These can often tempt us in to trying to take shortcuts or neglecting to carry out important tasks as thoroughly as we should do. We should never forget that even the biggest of projects are essentially made up a series of small tasks which can seem unimportant when looked at in isolation.
“I Didn’t Know It Needed To Be Done”
If there is one thing above all else which I want to know as a project manager it is that my team know what needs done and when. After all, I have gone to the trouble of producing a project plan and the rest of the documentation for us all to use. It is worth pointing out to the whole of the team at the outset that questions are always welcome and that if they aren’t sure about anything then explaining it to them is part of the job of the project manager as well. There is simply no excuse for tasks slipping by without being done because no one knew that it was their job to do them. Of course, as a quality project manager you will be keeping your eye on the ball and making sure that things go according to plan. However, you can’t be expected to stay on top of everything so having a team of workers you can trust around you is absolutely essential as well.
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