Posted on April 12, 2013 · Posted in Leadership, Management, Training

As a professional project manager, can you recall one mistake you made that still haunts you? Regardless of whether you made the mistake three years ago or yesterday, you’ll always remember it, but you’ve probably learned from it.

Most professional project managers manage projects as well as staff simultaneously. Most would agree that this is a huge job and involves many tasks, areas of expertise, and job, client, and business knowledge. While it is also a respectable role, it certainly doesn’t come without its risks and mistakes.

Here are the five most common leadership mistakes to avoid in the world of project management:

  1. Managing Talent Not People. The first mistake to avoid? Whenever you explain your job or role to others, particularly your colleagues, team members, or other team leaders or managers—it’s important to remember that you are dealing with people. But while you may be working with people, it doesn’t mean you are managing them. Yes, there is a difference. Real leaders manage talent not people.
  2. Don’t ever assume. In the world of business, never assume anything. Never assume any type of instruction in a project submission or specifications. If you are reading project specs and think to yourself, “Okay, this line is vague, but I assume they mean this.” Stop. Pick up the phone or email and clarify.Also, don’t ever assume team members know how to communicate or are comfortable with one another, or other coworkers in other departments or functional areas, for that matter. Always introduce new team members to one another, and oversee lines of communication to make sure they are open and effective.
  3. Don’t ever micromanage. This is a biggie, but yet an extremely common mistake. In fact, most project managers, managers or supervisors don’t realize they are micromanaging. However, those project managers who choose to be leaders will not micromanage. Micromanaging tells your teams you distrust and disrespect them, and as a result, this crushes morale, which ultimately crushes your productivity.
  4. DO give feedback. Only the best project managers and leaders give their team members positive feedback on a regular basis. This will give team members confidence in doing their work, the confidence to also take on more, challenging tasks and projects, and make them feel liked, respected, and valued. This is a sure way to boost morale. Real leaders give their teams positive feedback whenever possible.
  5. Make decisions together. Team decisions should be made together as one, solid entity. Of course project managers and team members have the ability to make their own decisions regarding projects and problem-solving, but issues that arise that affect all team members should be addressed at the team level. No one person should be able to decide over the other, and no one team member is more important than the other, regardless of age, experience, or seniority.

So while as project managers we’ve probably seen and handles most conflicts, most of these common mistakes slip past us. Sometimes we don’t even realize we have made them, or maybe we realized it a little too late. Either way, definitely consider these mistakes and think about how you will be a better project manager and leader tomorrow.

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