There are plenty of common traps which you could fall into in your early days in the project management world. These are issues which are much more easily avoided if you know what they are, so let’s take a look at some of them and how to avoid them.
Not Using Your Time Wisely
One of the most difficult things about moving into the project world is learning how to use your time more wisely. Before working on projects I was in a technical role in which my day was pretty clearly defined. I would get handed folders which needed to be checked and handed back within 24 hours, so there wasn’t really a lot of flexibility there. With projects, on the other hand, you might get handed a rough description for a new process and be told that it needs to be in place for next June. If you aren’t used to working this way it can be tempting to fall into a slow pace which it is difficult to pick up again when you need to do so. With experience you will probably learn when you need to work at full tilt but until then you need to be aware of the dangers of wasting your time when the work is slow and then not having enough time to do everything when the pace picks up.
Coming Up With Solutions Too Early
I was used to trying to get solutions as quickly as possible in my old roles. However, this approach doesn’t really work with a project. The problems and issues you are likely to come across here are best being fully investigated before you start to sit down and look and possible solutions. If you try and provide the solutions before you understand the problems then this won’t be a time-saver like you might expect it to be. Instead, it can cause you to lose valuable time by making you go over the whole thing again at some point in the future when your rushed solution lets you down. Take your time and get things right first time and you will be fine.
Trying to Ignore the Stakeholders
The stakeholders involved in your projects can be pretty annoying, can’t they? A lot of the time they might make impossible demands on you or complain when you can’t do what they want. This makes it a pretty easy decision to sideline then and try to ignore them as much as you can. However, this isn’t a great move. In order to make a success of the piece of work you need the stakeholders on your side and pulling their weight in the same direction as you. There are a lot of different ways of trying to achieve this but perhaps the simplest is also the most effective. What you should try first of all is to simply get them involved in the project and feel a part of it. Once they start to believe they what they say matters you can expect to have a better relationship with them throughout the rest of the project life cycle. By leaving them on the outside looking in you are just creating possible problems for yourself, as they might get resentful and start to disrupt your plans even more this way.
Not Using the Project Team
The people who work with on the project are as vital to its success as you are. As the project manager you will want to take on a lot of the responsibility for getting the work right but that doesn’t mean doing it all on your own. Everyone who is involved in the project team will hopefully bring different skills and experience to it. If you sideline them then you risk losing out on their input and their help. You should look on the project manager role as being all about pulling together the different strands of the work rather than trying to do it all yourself. You will have a lot of skills you can put to good use in the project but you aren’t the only one who can say that. Let everyone get involved and you will have a happier team as well as a more productive one. It can be very rewarding to see how some of the team members grow in stature as you hand them new jobs, and if you can train them up as well then this will be a double lot of satisfaction for you in the long run.
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