7 Mistakes That Turn Your Projects Into Nightmares

7 Mistakes That Turn Your Projects Into Nightmares

The world of work is full of challenges and frustrations. That’s why so many people prefer to look for new jobs every few months rather than committing themselves to a set schedule. But no matter how tempting it can be, staying constantly on the lookout for new job opportunities will only get in your way sooner or later. Sooner, if you keep missing your chances because you keep making the same mistakes over and over again. Neglecting to take care of yourself by taking regular breaks, keeping up with professional development, and prioritizing your time are just some of the common pitfalls that anyone working within an organization will encounter at some point in their career. Working long hours without a break, putting your personal life on the back burner, and being unwilling or unable to adapt to change are just a few examples of common mistakes that project managers might make. Even though we may not consciously intend to make them every time we dive into another new project, they all contribute to creating a perfect storm that eventually creates an unending chain of misery for us as individuals and as a team.


Mistake number 1: Neglecting to take care of yourself

As a project manager, you will be required to work long hours and to sacrifice certain things in order to attain certain goals. This will inevitably require you to neglect certain things in order to attain certain goals. For example, as a project manager, you need to be presentable and well-rested in order to maintain your professionalism and to function at your best. Therefore, it is important to make sure that you take care of yourself by taking regular breaks and by prioritizing your time. Taking care of yourself is important because it will help you to be more efficient, to avoid burnout, and to be able to take better decisions. If you neglect to take care of yourself, then this is going to have a negative impact on your performance as a project manager.

Mistake number 2: Working without reliable tools and resources

In this day and age, it is simply not possible to work without a reliable toolset. Whether it is a project management tool, a collaboration platform, or a monitoring suite, you need to make sure that the ones you’re using are all reliable and scalable. For example, if you are working in a team environment, having a reliable project management tool that all of your members can access and use from their own devices is crucial. Ideally, the tool should be available in a web browser and allow for access from any device, including a laptop, a tablet, and a smartphone. A reliable collaboration platform is equally as important. Ideally, it should be able to allow for password-protected private and public discussions. It should also be able to assign tasks to team members and have the ability to have a history of all the conversations that have taken place within the team. Lastly, you need to make sure that your tools and resources are all scalable. Ideally, they should be able to support a growing number of users and allow for any member of the team to have quick and easy access to them at any time.

Mistake number 3: Not setting clear expectations with team members

Going into a project with the expectation that everything will turn out perfectly is like setting yourself up to fail from the start. Your team members might be great at many other things, but complex project management is not one of them. So expecting that they will be able to meet your expectations, deal with risks and issues that might arise, and deliver on the expected level of output is setting yourself up for disappointment. And while nobody is perfect, nobody should be expected to be perfect. Setting clear expectations while also being able to react positively to minor issues is what you can do to maintain a productive and enjoyable working relationship.

Mistake number 4: Being unwilling to change or adapt

Changing your behavior is perhaps the hardest thing to do and the most likely to fail. You will be faced with challenges and frustrations while working on a new project that will likely get you down. What you need to do is to acknowledge that you are feeling down, and then address what is bothering you. Be willing to take the time to figure out what is causing you frustration, and then address it head-on. At the same time, you need to be willing to keep an open mind and recognize that things change. You may find yourself in a situation where some of your colleagues are unwilling to adapt to certain changes, or you may find yourself the only individual in your team who is willing to change.


Mistake number 5: Not Setting Clear Goals

As project managers, we are responsible for setting the goals of all the projects on our team. And while this sounds like a pretty straightforward task, it can actually be the source of a lot of frustration for some professionals. Why? Because setting goals is often not easy. In fact, some professionals may even find the idea of making goals in the first place quite daunting. What’s the problem with setting goals, you ask? Very often, people who are struggling to set goals are not setting clear goals. When we are not clear about the goal, it’s hard to know if we are making progress. We can get lost along the way. This can make us feel like we are not doing a good job and may make us feel stressed out and overwhelmed. Clear goals will help you to keep your team focused, prioritize their tasks, and track progress. They will also help you avoid getting caught up in busy work, while letting you take short breaks to recharge and get back on track when you need to.

Mistake number 6: Overlooking Risk Management

Risk management is often a process that occurs in the back of our minds, as an afterthought. We don’t think about it, we don’t refer to it often, and we certainly don’t implement it. And then, it’s too late. We already have a chain of unfortunate events that eventually leads to a meltdown of some sort. This chain of unfortunate events usually starts when we overlook the risk management process. Let’s say that we are planning a new project and we have calculated the expected benefits and risks associated with that project. What we don’t do is to calculate the expected benefits and risks of all the teams that are involved in that project. We don’t do that, because we are under the impression that the teams are responsible for their own risks. Wrong. Each team member is ultimately responsible for their own risks, no matter how big the project is. If the chain of unfortunate events starts because we fail to adequately manage our team member’s risks, then the chain will continue, because we also failed to adequately manage our own risks. Risk management is a continuous process that helps us to avoid unfortunate events from happening. It helps us to identify risks and mitigate their impact, so that they will never become disastrous.

Mistake number 7: Not Setting Up Effective Communication Channels

Project communication is a broad topic that touches on the very core of what makes a good project manager. A project manager has to know how to communicate well with their project team members, their stakeholders, their organization’s leadership, and their clients. Communication channels have to be effective, flexible, and clear. Otherwise, they will get in the way of making progress, so we have to make sure that they are set up in a way that helps to effectively manage communication across the entire project team. Effective communication channels are the ones that help to set clear work expectations, set clear expectations for the team members, and hold everyone accountable for their work. Effective communication channels also help us to avoid misunderstandings, deal with conflicts, and resolve issues when they occur. Effective communication channels also help us to keep track of the progress of the project. They help us to keep track of deadlines, and they help us to avoid project delays. When we don’t have effective communication channels, the project can suffer from project management disasters, such as unmet deadlines, missed deadlines, and project delays.

Final Words

Project managers and other professionals in the project management sphere are always looking for ways to improve their skills and learn new techniques. But they often don’t take time to reflect on the mistakes they have made, especially in their beginning stages. Mistakes happen, and they should be expected. But if you learn from them, you can avoid falling into the same pitfalls in the future. That said, don’t be too hard on yourself if you have made mistakes in the past. Everyone has room for improvement, and it’s important to be self-critical while at the same time being self-compassionate.