When Management Fails
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Written by Joe McLean
There’s one important lesson you have to learn when you become a project manager: your own performance is no longer in the focus.
Now, your major responsibility is to engage the team and encourage their performance.
That’s not the most comfortable position to be put in. Your performance is being measured by the performance of others. No matter how hard you try to keep everything under control, you might fail in more than one way.
Take Marissa Mayer as an example. When she first stepped in as a president and chief executive officer of Yahoo, she was viewed as the carrier of change. Still, she failed on many levels, and managers today use her example as a warning sign.
Yes; management can fail no matter how hard you try. Nevertheless, it’s important to stand your ground and keep things under control. Your team expects a lot from you, and the top-level management from your organization expects tons. There’s a lot of pressure involved, and that’s exactly why you need to make an effort to get through any obstacle you face.
5 Tips for Project Managers to Keep Everything under Control
1. Keep the Door Open
When Ed Catmull, the president of Pixar, found out that all his producers wanted to leave, he was surprised beyond imagination. This occurred during the most successful period of the company. The reason for this dissatisfaction among the producers was their feeling of being disrespected and marginalized during the process of production.
This is a pretty devastating situation. As a project manager, you may face the same issue. You’re focused on the success of the project, so you often fail to recognize the individual achievements of each team member. They will feel like you’re not valuing their efforts.
What’s the solution? – Just keep your door open for everybody. Your team members should feel free to come to you with any questions, ideas, and requirements. If they have complaints, they shouldn’t hold back to express them. This isn’t where you should stop. Instead of waiting for your team members to come to you with their problems, you must move between them and find out yourself.
2. Be Honest With Yourself
If you’re like most modern managers, then you’re constantly dealing with data. You’re analyzing the progress of your project and you get the indicators of failure. Do not ignore them! They should be triggers of change. If you keep going in the same direction, you’ll only fail harder.
So if the numbers don’t go to your favor, that doesn’t mean you should give up. But it also doesn’t mean you need to stay stubborn. Just try few backup options to get things moving forward.
3. Get Support from the Leaders
When project management fails, you and your team are not the only ones to suffer the consequences. The entire organization will feel the effects. Since the leadership is more than affected by the process, you should actively engage them when looking for solutions.
First, discover the reasons why the project is failing. If behaviors and actions from the team are the main issue, you can fix them without asking for assistance from the upper levels of management. If, however, you locate the reasons in lack of finances or any other resources, it’s time to ask for support from the leadership of the organization.
4. Embrace the Cycle of Change
When things don’t work, it’s time to turn to change management. That’s the mindset that takes the “there’s no one-size-fits-all solution” as its motto. At this point, you understand that it’s time to make a big shift into the way the entire project is being developed.
It’s important to involve all team members in the process, so they will contribute with their ideas and suggestions. With the right dose of creativity and self-confidence, you can find a solution out of the mess.
5. Invest in Team Member Training
Many project managers fail because they can’t stop looking for the right people for each position. They constantly complain about the staff and they cannot be happy with the performance no matter how hard everyone tries to please them. The problem is that you don’t necessarily have the wrong people in your team; you’re just not investing enough in their professional development.
You have to understand that most people within your team are capable of doing a good job and they want to achieve better results. If they fail to do that, it’s your failure as a manager. So show them how to get better! If they make a mistake, explain where things went wrong and offer suggestions for improvement without making them feel miserable.
Failure is part of the process of growth. Most project managers will face such point in their careers. The good news is that you can overcome your flaws, as well as the flaws of the project, only if you recognize them on time. Stay conscious about each aspect of the project development and your approach to managing the team. You’re getting early signs of failure and you can act on time; you just have to be focused enough to recognize them.