What Keeps You Awake at Night?

                                          Poor Project Management

Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash

                                        “Have a good plan, Execute it violently, Do it today” – General Douglas McArthur

The business world seems to be moving and changing faster and faster.

Companies that don’t keep up with this will fall behind their competition and the results of that could be disastrous.

As change occurs, projects are required to make those changes. There are two basic types of work in organizations; Day to day processes and projects. The day to day are those things that are done regularly, such as invoicing, paying bills, or producing a good. When a process or procedure is either added or changes, a project is needed to make that happen.

A project is done for a finite period of time. When completed, the result becomes a part of the daily work process. The project is over and those working on it move on to something else.

In order to conduct a project, you must have a project team and a Project Manager.

The team is comprised of those who will do the project work. The members should comprise the various functions needed to get the work done. The manager is the person who pulls all of these efforts together. That person doesn’t do the actual project work, but ensures that the team members do, each working in concert with the others.

This is just like a symphony orchestra. While it is comprised of very talented musicians, imagine it performing without a conductor. The conductor doesn’t play one note. Yet, that person makes sure that the collection of musicians play harmoniously together in order to get the desired result; beautiful music that is pleasing to the audience.

Could that happen without a conductor? Possibly. But the production company does not leave that to chance. Have you ever been to a concert without a conductor? I doubt you have and ever will.

The same then holds for running projects.

The manager is needed to make sure that the team members work in harmony. In that way the success of the project outcome is more assured.

Notice I said more assured. Poor or no project management can bring the downfall of any project, no matter how talented the team. A poor conductor can cause havoc with an orchestra. A poor Project Manager can do the same with the project and the team.

According to Bain & Company, by 2027 most work will be project-based. And, the Project Management Institute reports that the demand for project managers has and will continue to grow more rapidly than the demand for skilled workers in other occupations.

Yet, in my consulting experience there are still many companies both large and small that either don’t have Project Managers, or the ones that they do have are not properly trained to do the job.

Good and effective Project Management is about more than just completing tasks, timings,  and budgets. It is important for stronger results and happier employees. This is the result of Project Management done correctly.

Project Managers are largely unsung heroes.

They’re the people who make sure all the planning actually goes according to plan. They not only plan and organize the work itself, but can explain the importance of planning for projects. In  that way, everyone on the team knows why and what they’re doing is important. Good managers keep things on track when the unexpected happens.

With all that said, where are you and your company at with your projects and the management of these?

Are you confident in you PM abilities and are you getting your projects done on time, within budget and with the desired results? Are you a good Project Manager that people look up to, respect, and want to work with? Or are you failing in one or more of these areas and can’t seem to get the problem(s) fixed? Is that is what is “keeping you awake at night?

A lot has been written regarding how to be an effective Project Manager. The following is a great listing of the attributes one should have and employ:

1. Effective communication

The Project Manager must clearly explain the project goals as well as each member’s tasks, responsibilities, expectations and feedback. He  or she then removes any roadblocks that keep each team member from completing their tasks.

2. Strong leadership

An effective project Manager has strong leadership qualities such as being able to motivate the team and driving them to maximum performance to achieve their goals.

3. Decision making

A good Project Manager has great decision-making skills. There will always be decisions that need to be acted on and they must be done quickly and confidently.

4. Employment of technical knowledge

An effective Project Manager needs to have sound knowledge to understand the issues related to the technical aspects of the project. Project Management software and other related tools are essential in accomplishing the project goals.

5. Shared vision

An effective Project Manager articulates the vision to the team members. A visionary person will lead people to the right direction as well as easily adapt to the changes that come along.

6. Team building

It is necessary that a team works in unison. Otherwise the project will undergo various relationship challenges that might hinder its success. Project Managers need to know how to give each person the ability to focus on and utilize their skills.

7. Employment of calm under pressure

In any project, certain incidents could take a toll on the project’s momentum and test the Project Manager’s patience. A good manager  keeps calm at all times and is consistently grounded so as not to lose themself and adversely affect their relationship with the team

8. Good negotiating skills

In times that conflicts arise due to differences of opinion, Project Managers need good negotiating skills to settle the issue(s) and maintain harmony within the team.

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9. Employment of empathy

Understanding and caring for people as well as being grateful for their help are a few of the things that a good leader shows to the team members.  This understanding includes the needs of the project and its stakeholders.

10. Competency

A good PM knows what they are doing and will initiate new projects as well as face the challenges that come with them.

If you a working for a company or organization that doesn’t employ Project Management or tolerates poor management, you should be concerned.

The chances are good that the projects they are working on are over budget (If they even have budgets), are late or never get completed, or the end results are not what was expected. In some cases all three of these things might be true.

So, is that worth losing sleep over? Could be depending upon the seriousness of the situation. 

Everything is at the company’s fingertips, to correct this. If the powers that be ignore these and decide that the current situation is acceptable, that is certainly a big reason for concern. Even if you do everything correctly in managing your projects there may or will be little support from management regarding your efforts. And no matter how hard you try and achieve good results, it will be a constant dogfight to get things done.

You then have a choice. Do you continue the fight to get things corrected or do you find a place where good Project Management is encouraged, supported and rewarded. That seems like an easy decision, but sometimes it is not. If you have developed a loyalty to your company, that may be a difficult thing to break. And there is always that change thing, that makes it difficult to do something different even when you know you must.

At some point you have to determine what battles to fight and what the worth of doing so means. Even the best and strongest of us can get worn down. There is an old saying, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”. Once you realize this the decision becomes easier. And you determine that this is another thing that should not keep you awake at night.

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