There are many aspects to the job of a project manager including a planner, a leader, and a conductor. However, one of the most important roles which a project manager can play is to remove obstacles to unleashing the creativity and productivity of their teams. Without that, the best planned project will still encounter delays and cost overruns.
Sponsors might introduce hurdles by imposing perceived constraints on the team such as due dates without clearly indicating that those are just targets. These can then reduce the confidence and increase the stress level of team members resulting in reduced velocity. Sponsors can also drag their heels on making key directional or funding decisions. A good project manager can avoid the realization of such risks through effective sponsor onboarding and ongoing engagement.
One of the many attributes of a stakeholder is their ability to hurt a project. Good stakeholder management and appropriate use of political influence can help the project manager reduce the likelihood or impact of such behavior.
Team members might also generate their own obstacles. Economic downturns or company restructuring can generate a very natural sense of disengagement and paranoia which can sap productivity. An effective project manager can recognize the symptoms of this malaise and will implement the right actions to keep the team focused. Sometimes, the obstacles might be the working practices of the team – while a good project manager shouldn’t mandate how the work gets done, they should certainly provide their team with suggestions on how they can improve things and should support them in cultivating a team culture of continuous improvement.
But sometimes, a project manager can be the source of the worst roadblocks to the team’s progress.
Here are just a few.
- Frequent requests for status updates
- Pulling team members into meetings which they really don’t need to participate in
- Complaining about stakeholders or the company itself
- Not responding in a timely fashion to requests
- Avoiding escalation or active conflict resolution
- Hiding information which could be useful to the team’s work
There are many hurdles which can slow your team down – self-awareness and actively soliciting feedback on how you are doing could help you avoid making things worse!