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Five Project Manager’s Behavior That Can Fail Project

If project succeeds then it is the result of collective team effort however if project fails, it may fail due to various reasons but the failure is largely attributed to project manager.

Project Manager

They say – Project team can be interesting group of people, wherein project manager promises customer “Don’t worry, we will deliver it. Nothing is impossible!!” and project team member tells project manager “same thing is just not possible for technical reasons!!  Jokes apart, there are different dynamics that plays various roles right from inception of project to its planning to delivery and closure. It could be personality traits of stake-holder, politics, aspirations and various other factors which come into picture as project shapes up & being executed. The atmosphere can get humorous, tense or funny.

Even though all things are inter-woven; it is project manager who is largely expected to control, monitor and direct the lifecycle of the project to make it successful. That’s the reason, project manager is held accountable for whatsoever-turns-out-to-be the fate of the project.

Again, a lot depend on the kind of project manager you are. It is not only about the PMP or PRINCE2 certification you have or how well you use/apply project management practices. What is your behavioral pattern will also the culture/style of your project which in-turn can also decide the fate of  the project. Beware! Some of your behavioral pattern can put the project in danger.

Poor communicator

One of the most critical things any project manager does in a project is to communicate – you talk to project sponsors, business analysts, PMO, IT, team members, partners or vendors. Project communication primarily revolves around conversation which can happens over phone calls or in-person meeting or email exchange but beyond such conversation, your relationship with project stakeholders will decide how well you can work with each other. Each of these relationships should be nurtured differently.

Project managers with highly technical background are often seen exhibiting poor communication with stakeholders, resulting poor stakeholder management. Poor communication also puts a question mark on the transparency of the information shared.

The project communication needs to be precise and clear. If you face difficulty to comprehend project documentation, difficulty in convincing project sponsors, cannot tell project team members, what is expected in apt manner, then you will face a major problem.

Highly Autocratic

As a project manager you are expected to have better control over project deliverables, teams, etc. Today is the world of collaboration, transparency and accountability. If you are the one who keep humming around, using harsh language and expect everything to be in order right when you desire, in the same way you expect; then you have a problem. Strong team work is fostered if there is healthy relationship among team members without losing the focus and clarity of roles they need to perform. As a project manager, it is significantly depends on – how you drive the project, how you communicate, delegate project tasks and support them.

Of course, you can use your coercive powers to control certain aspects of project delivery but overall, punishing team members will not reap any long term benefits.

Insensitive to team members

Beside all project controls, if project manager cannot treat team members as human being, then he/she cannot run his/her project for longer. This one is partly related to the previous trait but there are two aspects to it. One may want to run around with a stick to get the work does(but it does not work all the time and does not work in longer). There has to be apt use of coercive power and being considerate toward team members voices/concerns.  In the second scenario, project team members may have certain issues, and if you fail to understand it (fail to read between the lines); the chances are high that that the team members will keep that in mind, are high.

Assume no or little responsibility

This one is little tricky. As I mentioned earlier, for a given project, project manager has overall responsibility. Often if something is not delivered as expected, the blame game starts and everyone tries to push the ball in other’s court. In reality, project managers are the leader of the project and he/she needs to exhibit the leadership position by assuming responsibility, clearly notifying stakeholders what they can expect, by when, from whom.  If something is going off-track, project manager need to tackle it with the sense of urgency.

Accepting responsibility is not always about accepting a failure rather it can also strong signal to gain trust and reliability for project stakeholders.

Bad Planner and Organizer

Again this is the most critical role project manager has to perform. He/she cannot fail with these. If you are unable to get reasonable estimates for your project; not only your team will suffer, your organization’s credibility will be at stake. If you are planning projects in some fashion, just to please project sponsor/customer or senior management, without consulting and considering your project team members, the project plan is more likely to go hey-wire.

You need to prioritize project activities, devise reasonable project plan, communicate it clearly to project team members, partners, customers and other stakeholders; delegate activities appropriately and follow up regularly for completion. Do you have simple – easy to understand project tracking software that everyone in your team uses? If not, you should get one. It helps you to quickly spot, off-the track activities & de-railing projects.

As they say, to make something successful, lot of stars need to align in right direction but to fail anything, even a single element can do the job. As a project manager, you wouldn’t want to be that factor.

So for portfolio managers & team members – All budgetary provisions, allocated resource cost, team environment, organization’s credibility & reliability can get compromised if such behaviors of project managers are not identified and corrected at early phase of projects. Are you ready for that? I know, these can be somewhat extreme behavior but you need to keep an open eye on these.


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Project Meeting Manager in ZilicusPM

I am a co-founder of Zilicus Solution and I write about project management, collaboration, productivity, project management software, cloud computing, requirement management and business empowerment.