Project management is a highly complex job that requires a wide range of skill sets. Project managers are simultaneously responsible for having an overarching, strategic eye on a project while owning the nitty-gritty details. As a result, it can be easy for newcomers to get overwhelmed by everything project management entails.
If you’re a new project manager and you’re adjusting to the demands of the job, don’t worry — learn from these five common mistakes novice project managers make to hone your skills.
1. They Think They Need to Know Everything
Project managers are central leaders on a team. They should have a handle on all arms of a project at all times. However, that does not mean they need to know everything that goes into a project. Quite the opposite — they should rely heavily on their leadership counterparts in other departments to provide insight and expertise. If you start feeling like you don’t have enough knowledge for your job, it’s probably because you’re not relying on and empowering other people to do theirs.
2. They Make Decisions in a Silo
A project manager has an integral role on a project team, communicating with all stakeholders and team members to ensure alignment and make critical project decisions. However, they aren’t responsible for making every decision; instead, they’re responsible for facilitating the decision-making process. You can do this by pulling in the right people at the right times to make decisions. If you feel like you’re on an island making decisions for other people, that’s a sign you should pull in someone else.
3. They Don’t Keep Records
As a project becomes more complex and there are multiple moving parts to manage, keeping thorough documentation can seem like a trivial — and even annoying — task. But it’s even more critical that you keep great documentation in the throes of a project. When your team is churning through work rapidly and scope is changing daily, you’re likely going to be the only person who can keep things organized. This means you need to keep a thorough, clear change log to answer inevitable questions about decisions or changes in direction.
4. They Micromanage Team Members
There’s no doubt that a central piece of the project management role is people management. Project managers are responsible for ensuring team members are challenged, fulfilled and working at full capacity, unblocked by obstacles and barriers. However, that people management can easily be taken too far into micromanagement.
You can prevent micromanagement by leveraging project management tools; when used appropriately, software like Smartsheets, Trello or Asana will house up-to-date project information so you can reference a digital tool instead of checking in too frequently with team members.
5. They’re Inflexible
Good project managers know the best projects start with thoughtful, strategic plans. But great project managers know those plans will grow and change over time — and that’s okay. It’s important to be flexible as a project manager, adapting and evolving based on unforeseeable project obstacles, scope and timeline changes, and feedback. Being too rigid will do more harm than good and set a stubborn tone across the entire team. Likewise, being flexible in the face of change will inspire a solution-oriented, can-do attitude.
As you’re refining your project management skills and growing into the role, consider these five common mistakes. If you can avoid making them, you’re on your way to project management stardom.