Published February 8, 2024

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9 mins read

Fail-Proof Project Management Do's and Don'ts

Avatar of Mary Nour

Mary Nour

Fail-Proof Project Management Do's and Don'ts

How would you describe the perfect manager? Someone with great leadership skills, knows how to motivate their team, and can get things done? This person seems to exist only in movies or books. In reality, however, managing projects isn't always easy.

A project manager is responsible for project management from start to finish. They ensure that deadlines are met, deliverables are delivered on time, and quality standards are maintained throughout the entire project lifecycle.

Project managers play a crucial role in ensuring that projects are successful. If you want to become a better project manager, then you should follow these steps.

DO try new solutions

As a project manager in today's world, you need to be open to the idea of testing new solutions.

Wasting time is always the enemy when it comes to managing projects, and new solutions that help you standardize and automate repeated processes are the way you defeat that enemy.

Take project meetings for example. You'll hold plenty of those throughout your project, and if you are handling more than one project at a time they can easily become a major source of wasting time.

Saving time by running structured meetings ensures project success. Every second you save is a second you gain when project risks take place, which is inevitable. 

So, how can you do so? By being open to trying a new solution such as a meeting management platform. Meeting management platforms can automate every part of your meeting and help you take complete control over meeting knowledge that translates into delivering projects on time and within budget.

DO educate yourself on technical knowledge

A PM role is mostly about having the basics and experience to manage people.

You might have noticed that experts are not always the best-suited people to manage the rest of the team. However, a successful PM knows that their key role is to manage the project and not be involved in the technical decisions.

Experts will always have the upper hand when it comes to technical details and decisions. So, it would be best if you were incredibly careful not to frustrate your team by overriding their decisions.

However, by working on your technical knowledge, you can guarantee project success. You can add much more value by helping your core team focus on the customer needs, direct them to explore multiple options, highlight the pros and cons of each one of them, and guide the team in brainstorming sessions and critical project meetings.

Being familiar with what they're working on, you can help the team avoid common pitfalls and gain their confidence and trust. And it will be easy for them to follow you.

Project managers with technical knowledge easily plan the project, perfectly estimate the deliverables, assign a suitable project timeline, understand the skill sets of each team member, understand and easily communicate technical requirements to business teams, and recognize obstacles and assist in quick resolutions.

DO be an excellent meeting facilitator

Being an excellent meeting facilitator should come as second nature to you if you want to be a unique project manager.

Good meeting facilitators know how to drive productive discussions during meetings, especially critical project meetings like kickoffs. They ask the right questions in the right way. Michael Wilkinson, a renowned meeting facilitator, introduces a robust framework when asking questions in meetings.

He says, instead of asking "how do we measure the success of this project?" Try rephrasing the question to be more specific, include the word "you," have a vocabulary all your attendees understand, and offer a scenario they can visualize.

Start your question with an image-building phrase "think about; imagine; consider." Then, extend the image with at least two more phrases, and finally, ask your what, how, and why.

So, try something like this: "Imagine your project was a tremendous success, and people are flooding into your office to congratulate you on the project's success and want to hear about how you did it. What are the highlights you would be most proud to share? How would you explain what helped you get there?"

DO delegate

Delegating work to the appropriate people is a crucial aspect of the project manager's job.

To be able to do this, you need to get to know a group of individuals well enough to fully appreciate their unique talents and skills as well as what they excel at. With this information at your disposal, you can assign the proper tasks to the appropriate people and produce the best outcomes.

According to a Gallup survey, adopting strength-based management methods increased sales, profits, customer engagement, and employee engagement for 90% of worldwide organizations. Everyone benefits when managers take advantage of team members' abilities.

DO work with your project team

Successful projects start with knowing how to build and manage an effective project team. Here is how.

Motivation. A project manager must know how to motivate the project team. This starts by dividing responsibilities in a reasonable way such that every member knows what they're contributing and how their role affects the project. This will ensure they do their best. You should provide the team members with constructive feedback and not criticism, acknowledge the small and big wins, and support them all the way. 

Training and coaching. Project managers can contribute to the professional growth of the team members. They can spot skill gaps in the team members and suggest that they take the appropriate training. Employees' newly gained abilities will make them useful resources for the business and the team as a whole.

Involvement in decision-making. To become a motivating leader, you need to know when to involve others. During your meetings, ask probing questions and try to be an emphatic listener. By doing so, you'll be able to leverage the experience of subject matter experts, which allows you to take the best decisions together as a team.

DON'T allow scope creep

Scope creep is defined as "the tendency to increase the size of a project without changing its basic objectives". It can occur at any stage of the project's lifecycle. However, it is most likely to happen during the planning phase.

Scope creep occurs because of several reasons:

  • There are no clear project objectives.
  • The client is not satisfied with the original plan.
  • The client wants to add new requirements after the project is already underway.
  • The client wants to extend the project beyond the original budget.
  • The client wants to renegotiate the terms of the agreement.

So, how to prevent scope creep?

  • Have a detailed project description and understand the project's vision.
  • Use a formal project schedule.
  • Establish milestones along the way.
  • Set realistic goals.
  • Identify risks early.
  • Communicate clearly with the client.
  • Get feedback from the client.

DON'T skip the role description

Projects frequently fail because the project team members are unclear about their roles and responsibilities.

Clearly defined roles, role descriptions, and task briefings will help your project team members understand their responsibilities. Reduced stress, lower expenses, a better timeline, and better project deliverables should be the outcome.

Each team member should know:

  • Their role in the project (a title or brief description)
  • What's required of them (more detailed description)
  • Their deliverables
  • The schedule to complete their deliverables
  • To whom they report
  • Who will evaluate and approve their work
  • The allowed budget (if they're responsible for purchases or other costs)

DON'T underestimate the risks

A common mistake project managers make is not accounting for or understanding that risks are inherent in every project, no matter how good your plan is. It's practically difficult to plan for every possible contingency, so it is unrealistic to anticipate that your plan will go off without a hitch.

This translates into a scenario in which you're unable or reluctant to accept risks that are raised as valid and update your plan to account for these now-known risks.

No project plan ever survives contact with the real world, just as no war strategy ever survives confronting the enemy. You can only be an exceptional project manager if you accept this (and can convince executive teams to embrace this as well).

DON'T play the blame game

Pointing fingers at you when things go wrong can happen for many reasons. Whether the reasons are irrelevant, unjustified, or valid, if this blows out of proportion, your reputation can be affected.

So, how can you control the blame game, especially if it is caused by events, you or your team can't predict?

1. Document every bit. When investigating crises, management will always ask to see records of vital information, including meeting notes, project scope, deliverables, and documented communications.

These documents are your way out when the blame game gets into full swing. Keep meticulous records of all project communications, and if possible, back up your data offsite using physical or digital storage.

2. Communicate. Be a part of the solution and not the problem by being the first to provide information. The blame placed on either you or your team may decrease when you show that you aren't hiding any information and are ready to solve the situation at hand.

3. Be emotionally intelligent. You may find yourself in a vulnerable position as the story villain. So, you need to be emotionally intelligent when communicating with management, such that you won't come off as uncaring or arrogant.

Moreover, you and your project team can be the targets of a lot of negative feelings. You can help defuse a potentially ugly situation by taking concrete steps and responding to affected people in a timely and effective manner.

DON'T fail to recognize the achievements of your team

Good project managers should always recognize the achievements of their teams. In fact, acknowledging the work of others will help motivate them to continue doing their jobs well. 

Acknowledge team members that stand out in some way, such as by pitching in to assist a fellow team member, handling a difficult stakeholder, or going above and beyond to finish a task on time.

If you fail to recognize the achievements of your team, then you are failing to appreciate the value they bring to your project. You may even be depriving yourself of valuable opportunities to learn from other people's experiences.

Here are some tips to help you recognize the achievements of your team:

  • Give praise where it is due.
  • Make sure that everyone knows how much you appreciate his/her contribution.
  • Keep track of the accomplishments of your team members.
  • Mention each person's efforts at team meetings.
  • Send an email to the employee's supervisor praising their effort and stressing how it has a direct impact.
  • Showcase the talents of individuals whose work might not often be noticed by wider audiences.
  • Make use of social media; a "thank you" post on LinkedIn is a fantastic way for recognition.

Wrapping up

As a project manager, you have a lot on your plate. And you need to be armed with skills that help you deliver projects on time and within budget.

In this article, we have gone through a few project management do's and don'ts that you need to keep in mind, the highlight of which was to never fear testing new solutions.

Saving time starts with your project meetings. adam.ai, an all-in-one meeting management platform, can help you track all the details related to your projects by running well-structured meetings.

And while there may be multiple meeting management solutions available, here is why adam.ai is the all-in-one meeting management platform you can trust:

  • adam.ai is one of Atlassian Ventures' portfolio companies.
  • In the meeting management software category on G2, adam.ai has been ranked a leader and a high performer for successive quarters in the past years.
  • adam.ai has been included in the Forrester Report in the AI-enabled meeting technology landscape.
  • adam.ai is trusted and used by powerful teams and organizations worldwide for all types of critical meetings, like board, committee, project management, and business development meetings.
  • And most importantly, adam.ai integrates with your existing workflow, is SOC2 compliant, provides dedicated support and success, and has a free trial option.
Transform how you conduct critical meetings—From meticulous preparation to effective execution and insightful follow-up, adam.ai integrates comprehensive analytics, full customization, and intuitive interfaces with powerful meeting management tools.
Easy onboarding. Enterprise-grade security. 24/7 dedicated support.
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Mary Nour

About the author ...

Content creator, eager learner, and an animal lover.

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