Avoiding These 4 Project Management Fails Will 10X Productivity

Being a project manager can be overwhelming. You need to resolve personal problems of your employees, make sure project milestones are on track, address unexpected setbacks, manage crises that arise and ensure communication with other teams and clients don’t break down.

Many project managers succumb to a variety of heuristics that can cripple productivity. Successful project managers identify their mistakes and try to improve productivity.

Investing in staff that lack the necessary competencies and right attitude

Some projects allocate plenty of resources to hire qualified people. Unfortunately, they don’t always use those resources to onboard the best team members. Avoid this mistake if at all possible, because the cost of hiring the wrong team member can exceed 30% of their first year’s salary. There are numerous reasons this can occur, including:

  • Many project managers over emphasize the importance of experience. A team member with over a dozen years of experience doesn’t necessarily have a wide range of skill sets. They may have a very narrow specialty, which may not make them an asset to the rest of the team.
  • Project managers don’t always assess the project requirements before taking on new staff members. This can be a very expensive mistake, because the nature of every project is different. The fact that employee thrived at a Fortune 500 Company in a different field does not mean that they will be a good fit for the project at hand.
  • Project managers frequently forget about the importance of the company culture while looking for new team members. It is important to find somebody that has synergy with the rest of the team. Even a highly talented employee won’t be much of an asset if their colleagues can’t stand working with them.

Unfortunately, staffing mistakes can be difficult to rectify later on. Firing a subpar employee in the middle of a major project can leave you understaffed while approaching a key deadline. It can also have a debilitating effect on employee morale. This means you can be stuck with bad hiring decisions for a long time.

Infographic credit: Mindflash

Take your time to hire the right employees carefully at the beginning of a project. Jobs platforms like ZipRecruiter are excellent resources to find highly skilled candidates.

Failing to effectively communicate project goals and progress

I have seen at least half a dozen keynote speakers emphasize the importance of sound communication in project management. The problem is that this feedback doesn’t tell project manager what they need to actually focus on communicating. Their teams would function much more effectively if they:

  • Carefully communicate all project specifications at the beginning. They need to be communicated at both the team and individual levels. Every team member needs to understand your expectations of them and what all team members are collectively striving for.
  • Maintain constant communications with your employees throughout the project. Let them know that they need to take initiative to bring any concerns to your attention. If they are encountering any problems that will keep them from meeting a deadline, tell them that they must address them with you in advance.

As Wrike CEO Andrew Filev explains, “Providing visibility to all stakeholders at all stages of the process is critical, and can be granted to teams through work management software with reporting features. This is a big enough project that you’ll drive yourselves crazy doing it through spreadsheets and email. Social collaboration, shared task management, and real-time syncing for everyone in an organization will make the implementation much easier.”

Not being receptive to negative feedback

Nobody wants to hear that they are making mistakes. Project managers may be tempted to discourage feedback that they don’t want to hear.

Unfortunately, the consequences of this can be very costly. One of my colleagues informed me that her previous employer has very hostile to anybody that shared bad news with him. As a result, nobody told him anything negative. He didn’t know that his company was on the verge of a crippling problem that could cost him his biggest client and force his firm into bankruptcy.

You don’t want to be in this position as a project manager. Let your employees know that you welcome any feedback, even if it isn’t something that you want to hear.

Overlooking the interconnectedness of project elements

It is common for employees to believe that their tasks happen in isolation. The problem is compounded when project managers suffer from the same tunnel vision. This can cause havoc if work improperly or completed by one team member makes it difficult for other team members to proceed with other stages of the funnel.


Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. Chamber specializes in helping small businesses grow their business on the web while facilitating the connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.