Project Manager: Mistakes to Avoid for Your First Time in Charge

January 4, 2023


A group of coworkers gather around their project manager at the table, looking over blueprints.
If you're a first time project manager, we want to impart some wisdom on you!

Being a first-time project manager is a daunting task. It is important to do well and prove yourself capable of handling the job. Unfortunately, the newer you are, the more likely you are to make mistakes. Sometimes you just have to learn from your slip-ups. Here are a few common mistakes that you can avoid making as you learn the ropes. 

Project Management Tips for First-Timers

Whether you are freshly promoted or managing a project without the title, there are some mistakes newbies are at risk of making. Here are some project management tips for first-timers.

Being Too Task-Driven

A well-executed project is completed by a team with strong relationships. Many new project managers fall into the trap of thinking that cracking the whip and pushing tasks is the key. Yes, part of management is monitoring to make sure tasks are getting done on time. Most of it, however, is helping facilitate the relationships that encourage teamwork and productivity. 

A project progresses more smoothly when the team has been given a chance to create connections. These bonds will support them through the more difficult parts of the projects. Don’t make the project all about tasks in exclusion of relationships. 

A manager is there to help their team succeed. Relationships are an important part of that. In the beginning, try a simple icebreaker to get people talking and those bonds will strengthen naturally as the project proceeds.

Ignoring the Source of the Problem

Being task-oriented is a mistake, but focusing too much on relational interactions is also a mistake. There has to be a healthy balance so tasks will actually get completed. Choosing to cultivate relationships and ignoring performance issues will harm your team’s progress. 

The longer you are a project manager, the more you will come across team members who slack off or don’t play well with others. They hinder the project’s success and can lower morale and drain time. It’s essential to have a balance between tasks and bonding. This helps the team stick together, but also keeps them accountable 

Be clear about ground rules early on during the development process. Allow the team to come up with ways to keep each other accountable and on track. This will help everyone feel involved and understand the expectations. 

Underestimating Task Requirements

Most things usually take longer than we expect them to. It is important to compensate for that during your project-planning sessions. Things rarely ever follow the best-case scenario, so plan for things to go wrong. If you don’t allot extra time for completion, it will mess with your project’s timeline. Factor in risks, possible delays, testing time, and even employee vacations to your estimated task durations. 

Determine estimated completion times for both the best and worst-case scenarios. This will give you and your team a much clearer picture of the timeline for your project. It will also help highlight any hangups and risks early on in the project. 

Not Discovering Risks Early in the Project 

Every project has risks. If you don’t discover the risks early, it can seriously delay your project timeline. You can’t wait for the risks to reveal themselves. You and your team need to conduct risk analysis during the early stages of the planning process. This will allow you to take the necessary steps to mitigate the risks during the implementation of the project. 

If your team is new and unsure about being candid with the project manager about concerns, make feedback anonymous. Give them a chance to air their concerns and possible risks without singling team members out. You can complete a simple paper survey or find an online reporting method. Use this as a chance to listen to them and gain their trust. That way, in the future, your team will feel comfortable approaching you with project concerns. 

Forgetting Tasks

Forgotten tasks lead to delayed due dates. The more complex the project, the more likely tasks are to be forgotten. Have tasks posted where your entire team can see them. Remember to ask for their input about any missing steps. 

Project Management Software

Advancement in technology makes projects a little more easy to manage. There is a wide array of affordable project management software options. They allow you to assign tasks, monitor progress, collaborate, and store relevant information. 

Some of the highest-rated software include:

  • Wrike
  • Click-Up
  • Teamwork
  • Asana
  • Trello
  • Zoho Projects
  • Basecamp
  • Smartsheet
  • Jira

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