What are six ways to be a bad project manager?

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013 By Jack Nevison

We know that being a project manager can be stressful. So we feel a little bad about pointing out all the ways you might screw it up.

Only a little, though. After all, knowledge is power.

Information Week contributor Phil Simon recently wrote a column that reinforces what many professionals already suspect: Most projects fail, and often these failures are the result of bad decisions or personality flaws on the part of the project manager.

Simon then lists several types of managers who he says "do it the wrong way." Here's a quick summary of his advice:

  • Sometimes, you need to say "no." It's easy to avoid conflict with team members by agreeing to everything. But by being a "yes-man" you're only setting yourself up for failure. You might agree to something that the team cannot possibly pull off, or end up making an unwise decision just to please a colleague.
  • Take a step back. It can be tempting to get involved in every little detail facing the team. Don't. Micromanaging only adds unnecessary complexity to already difficult tasks. You brought these talented people on board for a reason: let them make some decisions. 
  • You don't know everything. It's okay to admit as much, even if you think you're falling short as a leader by not having an answer for every question. It is far wiser to seek expert advice from others than to try to force your solution on a problem that you may not understand.
  • Stay positive. While many projects "would benefit from healthy doses of skepticism and realism," remember to celebrate the team's milestones as well. Keep your pessimism in check to avoid infecting your coworkers with your "unalloyed negativity."
  • Stay on task! Don't procrastinate. That deadline sure seems far off now, but in a week or two you'll start to feel the pressure. Do yourself a favor and close Minesweeper. Your delay can cause missed deadlines, which in turn can do serious damage to your company's bottom line and reputation.

New Leaf's program "Leading Project Teams: The Human Side of Performance" will help you break your bad habits and realize your project management potential. Read our free white paper, "Embracing the Dragon's Tail" and improve your project planning skills.

In addition, our online QPM games, available on iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, let you learn while you earn affordable PDU credits for PMP recertification.

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