So you’ve got your Copper Project Management Software installed. You’ve hand-picked a team composed of the best of the best, every single member of which is absolutely chomping at the bit and ready for action. Your financing is solid. Your resources are handy. You feel like you’re ready to take on the world. Nothing can stop you now!
Well, hold your horses for a second there. Admittedly, not much can stop you now, but there’s no such thing as too careful when it comes to your project (and your future success along with it). That having been said, let’s take some time to talk about a few of the things that could potentially send your project spiraling out of control.
1) Improper Planning
Okay, you’re pretty sure you’ve crossed all your t’s, and the last time you checked all of your i’s were dotted. Now let me ask you, is “pretty sure” good enough for you?
Have you accounted for the inevitable no-show from one or more of the people involved due to unforeseen circumstances? Have you familiarized yourself with the full capabilities of everyone that’s planning on putting in time on your idea? Have you spoken with a neutral party about the feasibility of your project in both the short term and the long term? Are you sure that there’s a place for everyone, and that everyone’s fully prepared to take their place? Check all your options, then double-check them, and if you’re feeling even the slightest bit of hesitancy then check them again. Don’t go overboard with it or anything, but it’s good to minimize the potential for catastrophe whenever possible.
Now that you’ve taken enough time to make sure everything looks as stable as it’s going to get, it’s time to get everyone started. You’ve created a timeline for tasks to be performed, and you’ve added people who are fully capable of performing them. Things are merrily chugging along.
This next part is very important, and cannot be emphasized enough. You know your people are capable of doing their jobs, right? I mean, that’s why you picked them. So let them do their jobs. Nothing slows a project down like having someone in charge who feels the need to constantly have their hand in the most minute of details. No manager causes more resentment than one who constantly tells people how to do what they’re obviously already qualified for. Basically, if you ever catch yourself describing your leadership style as “perfectionistic”, you should probably go have a nice cup of tea.
You’ve picked these people. Trust your own judgement. Let them do their thing.
3) Neglecting Your Project
Unfortunately, the opposite of micromanagement is just as bad, if not more so. If you throw out instructions and just disappear, leaving everyone completely to their own devices, you may find upon your return that your project has gone in a completely different direction than the one you envisioned. Sometimes there will be questions that need to be answered, sometimes there will be solutions that need your confirmation, and sometimes there may be one of those previously mentioned unforeseen circumstances that desperately needs your attention, lest things go terribly horribly wrong.
Don’t fret. There’s a balance to be found. Being a good project manager has a lot in common with being a good teacher. You can explain whatever needs clarification, you can solve any crisis that can’t be solved peacefully among the people in your care, you can give special attention to the people who might be falling behind in some way, and you can be the guiding force that keeps everyone on track, but you can’t actually do the work for them. Your job as a project manager is, in essence, to make the lives of everyone working for you easier while on the path to achieving the chosen goal.
4) Poor Communication
Of course, absolutely none of that matters if no one has any idea what in the name of Alan Turing they’re supposed to be doing. Even the greatest worker in the world can’t really help things progress if the tasks they’re given amount to, “Go forth and do a thing of some sort!” Be clear and concise, always allow room for clarification if needed, and avoid giving conflicting instructions at all costs. Also, as important as it is that you know what everyone involved in your project is doing, it’s just as important for everyone involved to be able to know what everyone else involved is doing, you included.
Of course, since you picked up Copper Project Management Software you’re obviously on the right track already. Go ahead and get your project rolling. We’re confident that your project is in the right hands. In fact, you deserve to do something fun for yourself.
How about a game of Ping Pong?
Joseph H is a blogger for Copper. He always knows what to do in a crisis, usually because he’s the one responsible for causing it in the first place.