5 Lies Project Managers Tell Themselves that Make Teamwork Fail
Think about the role of a project manager: how much easier would it be if you had to manage projects without the ‘people part’? Sounds soooo good, right? But when it comes to project management, people are part of the package – and the problem is, the package doesn’t have an instruction. You have to figure out yourself how to unpack and make it work.
In facts, project and team management can be so hard that managers naturally try to protect themselves. Remember a doctor from TV show “House M.D.” whose motto was “everybody lies”? When overwhelmed, managers often tell lies to themselves to justify things they are not really happy about.
The bad news, telling lies even to yourself only does much damage to project and people you manage. Beware of these common lies managers tell themselves.
1. “It will be better if I do this myself”
Some managers are so afraid of delegation that they do whatever it takes to avoid it. Why so?
Here are the most common fears:
- The work won’t get done.
- The work won’t get done well.
- The work won’t get done the way I like it to be.
- I feel out of control.
- I’m worried I’m inconveniencing others.
The fear of delegation cuts both ways. On the one hand, you do everything yourself and in the end, you burn out and feel stressed, frustrated and overwhelmed. On the other hand, by doing everything yourself you limit the growth and development of your team.
Even more, you’re wasting your precious time on things you could delegate. Instead, invest your efforts in what really needs and where you can provide the highest value.
Identify your management position – coaching, support or straight delegation – and tailor your approach accordingly. To feel more comfortable, always have buffer time to review and edit the delegated work.
2. “I’ll solve this later”
This is what we all do with the staff that seems hard to deal with. We tell ourselves this can wait. But what happens if we put it off for too long? The problem gets bigger and bigger and you have less and less time to solve it. You feel stressed and pissed off.
Most managers see the problem as a distraction. They never look deeper into the problem and don’t see possibilities that lie within it.
Take a step back and look at the problem from a different perspective. Some problems can actually improve the existing practices and help your company/product/service grow and become more competitive in the market.
3. “The team will come to me if they have questions”
The problem is, many team members are afraid to look incompetent and avoid seeking advice and asking questions. Or they don’t know the right questions to ask. As a result, they get the work done wrong, deliver it with a huge delay or don’t get it done at all.
As a project manager, you should encourage the team member to ask questions. Create an atmosphere where employees feel free to bring up questions that highlight ideas or concerns they might have about the product, service or business.
4. “The team knows why this is so important”
You need to make sure everyone in the team understands why they do what they do and why this is important. In this case, they feel motivated and connected to their work. They move towards the specific goal and work in a more productive way than people who work only to please the boss.
5. “X did the work poorly. I’m sure X knows it and will do better next time”
You may think that by not giving feedback on somebody’s poor performance, you aren’t hurting their feelings. But what you’re actually doing, you avoid having a difficult conversation and feeling discomfort.
Being a great manager means listening and offering feedback in the moments your team needs it most. This is how you help them grow and perform better task by task.
Bonus point: “We’ll save the celebrating for the big wins”
We tend to focus on the end goals rather than the small steps we take to get to that goal. But big goals aren’t going to be achieved overnight. That is why it’s important to acknowledge and celebrate small wins. Without this, we end up diminishing motivation that keeps us on the right path and gives us the strength to move forward.
Acknowledging and celebrating small wins releases chemicals that gives us the feeling of pride, giving us the feel-good and happiness factor and makes us want to go further towards our next achievement.
Do any of these lies sound familiar? If yes, it’s time to remove these false “excuses” as they slow the progress of both your team and your product. Stay true to yourself and your team, grow together and make it happen.