In some organizations, the project manager is accountable for the success of the project, but does not have the right level of responsibility. You are typically asked to manage a project utilizing people when you do not have direct management responsibility over them. You may also find that your ability to resolve issues is hampered because you are not high enough in the organization and you must often rely on more senior management for help. In other instances, you may find that your ability to be innovative and flexible is constrained by organizational policies and inertia.

All of these situations can be cause for frustration. One way to deal with them is to define roles and responsibilities as a part of the Project Charter. This can help set and manage expectations. For instance, if you have no budget or expense approval authority, note that up-front, along with a process for expense approval. That way, if problems do arise later, everyone knows who has the right level of authority to resolve them. For most project managers, the frustration level is not caused so much by a lack of power but rather by ambiguity. If the project manager does not have the authority, it is important to know who does, and what process is needed to gain action.

Seven Project Management Habits to Avoid

Project managers may join new organizations, but they often retain their old working styles. They continue these practices as a matter of habit and are unaware of how this could adversely affect their associates. To be really effective as project managers, they need to keep the following points in mind.

Avoid the following behaviors!

Motivation by intimidation. Since project team members rarely report functionally to the project manager, some project managers try to “motivate” team members by instilling fear. This could be by shouting, threatening to remove them, humiliating them at team meetings, etc. This may seem to have short-term gains at times, but is never a good management technique.

Not knowing your team. The personal lives of team members impacts their work behavior as well. An effective project manager knows enough about his team members that he is able to understand what motivates them. This does not mean you have to pry into every personal details. The point is to have some interest in the team members as human beings to build a more effective work environment.

Not being open to ideas. Some project managers believe that there is just one way to do things right, and that one way is their way. Not being open to team suggestions and ideas stifles their creativity. Such a closed attitude prevents new and better methods from being implemented.

Negative expectations. Many project managers are convinced that employees are untrustworthy, sneaky and lazy. This causes them to constantly monitor team members and treat them like children. In a situation where expectations leads to reality, this type of project management behavior can lead the team members to actually become poor performers.

Not communicating performance expectations. Many team members are shocked to learn about project manager perceptions and expectations late or at the end of the project. Ineffective project managers withhold a lot of important information from employees – including their performance expectations. They then provide negative input to the functional managers for performance feedback, which is terribly de-motivating to the team members affected.

Viewing themselves as the only decision makers. Ineffective project managers tend to believe that they alone make all the decisions. They fail to realize that project managers are as prone to making errors as anyone else, and only managers that admit their errors stand a chance of thrive and grow. Ineffective project managers fail to see the opportunities for a collaborative relationship between project management and team members.

Creating a negative work environment. Project managers help shape the organization through the kind of culture they propagate. This helps determine whether team members enjoy work or dread it. An organization of poor project management leads to poor project execution, which leads to all kinds of negative characteristics for the entire work environment.

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