What if you could have every base covered? Wouldn't that be amazing? You have all the information you need to make great decisions. All information and status updates you need to have the best and most accurate status reports and the most interesting and productive meetings possible?
Even though this seems to sound like it is focused on project managers, it is not. I am going to direct this at business analysts. One - because it's my article and I often handle both roles and can do what I want AND Two - because business analysts in certain projects actually perform the more communicative and facilitator role than the more figurehead project manager. It depends on the project. But there are always those pitfalls. Those behaviors that can be detrimental to the project and we may not even know we are doing things wrong. Consider these five and then let me know what you think...
Micro managing resources.
Micromanaging is a huge mistake! You probably know that already and may just not realize you're doing it. It serves no good purpose. Stop the oppressive behavior in your leadership style. You won't be a respected and followed leader of projects and teams if the behavior continues. Your team members are in place because they are experts at what they do. Trust them until they have done something to break that trust. Expect the best and you'll probably get the best. Help - don't hinder - team progress, forward thinking, and innovation.
I realize that sometimes it seems like the project is moving slowly and there is no need for that weekly team meeting or formal weekly status call with the customer. Plus, your desk is piled high with work on other hot projects and others on the project are probably in the same situation. So you'll just do everyone a favor and cancel today's regularly scheduled team or customer call on the slow project. Stop. This is not a good behavior. Why? Once you start to cancel meetings during slow times your stakeholders who have lots to do will start to consider your meetings to be of less importance and they won't make your meetings a priority to attend in the future. You'll be seen as an unreliable meeting facilitator. Even if you're project is at a standstill, you should still proceed with the regular meeting. Even if all you do is give a quick status update and go around the room once to get any information about tasks that you can from each team member or stakeholder, it's worth it. You've kept your meeting schedule intact. You also may have uncovered a small piece of important information from someone on the team that seemed inconsequential but could have been a big problem if it just fell through the cracks due to a cancelled meeting. You never know when the small things will become the big things. Don't cancel meetings. Keep in touch, keep the communication flowing and the collaboration in place and the team cohesion strong. You will never regret it.
If I can do one thing great, then I can juggle two things at once pretty good and three things at once fairly well and four things at once sort of acceptably ok... You get the picture? At that point you're only performing ok in your own mind. Others may be seeing you as a bumbling fool. Give it up! It's not worth it. I've previously covered my methods of managing projects (if you manage than one at a time) in 60 minutes a day. Try it - you'll be amazed at how much more you'll excel and how much more you'll accomplish. If you're leading, say, 5-6 projects at once, take a very dedicated 60 minutes on each project and get things done on each project – then move on to the next once. You'll be amazed at how clearer your head will be, how much more you will accomplish and you won't feel like you just bounced around all day between projects like a rubber ball.
Not following up.
Communication is Job One for all project leaders.... business analysts, project managers, tech leads, etc. and a huge factor in project success or failure. And a big part of that communication is follow-up. After a key meeting or phone call, be sure to follow-up with notes to ensure everyone is still on the same page. Gaps can grow over time. Don't leave any gaps or room for misunderstandings or mid-communications. They can eventually kill a project.
Keeping senior management at arm’s length.
While you may think it's nice to not have senior management meddling in your project all the time, having them somewhat involved and up to date is a good thing. Need a new resource fast? Go to senior management and get one. If they know more about your project than others than they will be more likely to take a personal interest and get your request expedited. Need more funding or their presence in front of the customer to help resolve an issue. Same thing – they will understand the project, remember you and jump in more quickly and provide that necessary involvement. Keep them in the loop – and continue to send them regular status updates.
Summary / call for input
The bottom line is we all fall short. We all need help. We all go through repetitious behaviors and we don't always realize that they aren't working. We might even be working contrary to or project's best interests, or team's best interests and our customer's best interest. It's not too late to change how we do things. These may not pop up during a lessons learned session so if you're continuing with any of these practices or pitfalls... then you're welcome for the heads up. Stop now!