Because every project inherently changes the status quo, much of project management revolves around change—planning for it, explaining it, mitigating its negative impacts, and convincing stakeholders that it will all be worth it. Even if change management isn’t part of your official job description, you will inevitably be dealing with change and its impact on not just stakeholders, but also on partners and collaborators, as well as the other members of your project team. Unfortunately, many project managers who say they’re great change agents really aren’t. In fact, there are 2 mistakes project management professionals make that can undermine their ability to achieve project success.
You compare a project’s progress against how things are today instead of against the deliverables set with stakeholders. Project Managers who use the current landscape as their benchmark are missing much of what goes into good project management. Projects are nearly always about improving upon what’s in use today, whether it’s a piece of software or a new office building. But viewing milestones against the backdrop of the existing environment isn’t the best way to move forward. Instead, work toward the end result picture you’ve painted with your stakeholders to achieve success.
You invest too much time focusing on where the project might go wrong. Of course it’s important to look for potential problem areas ahead of time, but simply worrying about challenges isn’t a constructive way to move ahead. This approach often breeds negativity, which can be such a morale killer that it can actually threaten your project’s ultimate success. PMs who have truly embraced change instead put their energy into finding solutions to those potential trouble spots. Creative problem-solving sessions with the rest of the team are the best cure—you’ll overcome the project’s challenges and have a more positive outlook to share with stakeholders.