Well before a project gets fully underway, signs may appear that the project manager (PM) you hired is the wrong person for the job. Before your organization gets too far into a costly mistake, keep a lookout for these five clues that just may indicate bigger problems ahead.
1. Lack of interest in learning about your company
It is no secret that your company strategy and goals drive all projects. If your PM shows no interest in learning about your company, its philosophy, processes, or people this may be indicative of a much larger issue.
To be successful at managing portfolios, programs, and projects at some point—before or at the start of the planning stage—time needs to be spent learning about your company's vision, goals, culture, and resources. Without developing a solid understanding of the foundations that should guide all milestones and tasks, a project is likely to skip over crucial gateways very early on in the project life cycle. If this happens, getting things back on track can be almost impossible and certainly costly in terms of resources, time, and regaining stakeholder confidence.
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2. Lack of interest in understanding stakeholders
Since the most significant impact on projects is interacting with stakeholders at all levels, it can be a red flag if a Project Management Professional (PMP) shows little or no regard for stakeholder well-being. All stakeholders can have a significant effect on project execution, especially when they are frustrated or distrust the PM. It is essential that stakeholder relationship management is a core skill of the candidate you choose to hire. Having all of the technical skills is of insufficient value when his or her people skills are lacking, as this can only end with stakeholder buy-in issues fairly early in the process.
3. Key stakeholders are not included
For a project to meet all of the company-wide needs and goals, it is vital that a PM understand which stakeholders should be involved in the project. It is also important to know where and how much involvement is needed, and the timing of each stakeholder's role. Sometimes a stakeholder who is on the front-line or in a seemingly lower-level role may have a larger impact on the success of a task, milestone, or project than initially envisioned. If your PM fails to carefully evaluate and select all of the necessary stakeholders at all levels or only wishes to deal with the senior ones, it can increase risks and end up costing the project and your company.
4. Poor communication skills
There will be times when a PM has all of the technical know-how and training, as well as the interest in stakeholders, but possesses terrible communication skills. This can seem like no big deal initially, but some of the largest conflicts can be born out of a simple communication error or misunderstanding. Make sure in the interview process or when selecting an internal PM that verbal and written communication, tact, and sound judgment are solid attributes and that they have sufficient weighting within the candidate evaluation. This can reduce a significant amount of undue stress and helps to maintain optimal levels of productivity.
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5. Insufficient interest in planning
Overall, the planning stage is the single most important phase in the project management life cycle. If your PM takes this phase lightly or skips over necessary components and fails to carefully identify or address the who, what, when, why, and how, he or she is guaranteed to miss many additional things in the other phases. When deciding on the best PM, make sure to spend time evaluating the candidate's planning skills to avoid some later unwelcome surprises.
Having confidence that you hired the right PM means knowing that the hire is genuine about understanding your company and project stakeholders, selecting the right stakeholders for each project, developing solid communication skills, and recognizes the importance of measure twice, cut once.
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Moira Alexander is the Founder of PMWorld 360 Magazine and Lead-Her-Ship Group, and a project management and digital workplace columnist for various publications. Moira has 20+ years in business (IS&T) and project management for small to large businesses in the US and Canada. To find out more about Moira, go to www.pmworld360.com and www.leadhershipgroup.com.