The Dos & The Don’ts of Project Management

We all, at some point of time in our life, would have seen a small note sticking up our refrigerator door. This protruding note is a subtle reminder of a menu or house rules or even a message. But the fact that it is left there hanging grants it maximum visibility. We follow this ‘note on the door’ method in our project management practice.

For us good project management does not only mean doing all the right things. It also means knowing what not to do and abstaining from doing it. We have these dos and don’ts of project management listed out for our project managers. We call this our project management manifesto.

The Dos

Listen and not just hear. On the face of it listening and hearing come across as one and the same. But they are not. Listening means being in the conversation with your client – body and mind. By listening you can get a fair idea of what your client wants, what he currently has, and what is the missing piece. It will also be the starting line from where you develop a strategy to deliver the goods.

Let them do the talking. Let your client talk. Do not cut him off in his thought process just because you know where he is going with it. You might have heard other people talk about the same issue 10 times before. But your client might be putting it across for the first time. And you never know he might bring out an interesting observation that your trained eyes missed.

Commit yourself to their success. When a client comes to you with a project, he expects you to pull all strings to make it work. That is exactly what you should do – make it work. The rule of the thumb is if the project was very simple your client would not have approached you in the first place. He has roped you in because he wants you to take care of the difficult stuff and help him succeed. So be prepared to commit yourself to some pretty arduous work.

Own the business. This is really important. Being a project manager, you should not identify yourself as something different from the business. You have to represent the business as if you own it. The more you own the business, the more confidence your client will repose in you.

Respect what you already have. A lot of project managers make the mistake of thinking that every time they get deployed on a project they have to start from the scratch. In turn what happens is they end up disrupting something that was already in place and functional. As a project manager you need to respect the teams, processes, and even groups that already exist and try to make best possible use of them. You are not expected to reinvent the wheel all the time.

The Don’ts

Do not play divide and rule. As a project manager you have to be the adhesive agent or the sticking gum that holds things together. Your actions should not create a disharmony between processes or animosity between teams. Your success will depend on how well you can get diverse people with different priorities to come together and form a cohesive unit.

Do not be a roadblock. Your presence in an enterprise should not be a restraining factor for ideas and communication. You should rather be a catalyst for exchange of ideas. You are supposed to facilitate communication and not take it over in your own silo.

Do not take what belongs to others. Never poach on another team’s clients, team members, their tools, or their projects. Accept and respect the fact that these things belong to some other team. Project managers who indulge in poaching often leave a bitter taste with their colleagues.

Do not ‘play’ hero. It is one thing to be a hero and completely another to play it. Never falsely report your team members in bad light to later on go and save the day for them. One day or another they will find out. And when they do your team will lose its faith in you. You do not want to come across as a person with a hero complex.

Now along with all these dos and don’ts there is something that we always advise our project managers to follow. We insist that along with being honest and upfront, they should always smile. After all, a smile always shows even through the internet. It also best reassures a wary client.