Project management – Knowing when to dig in and when to step back

I just began my first ever project manager position a couple of weeks ago. So how is it going? Well, I really like it. It is somewhat what I thought it would be. It is either a great deal busier than what I initially thought, or I have to just learn a few things first in this new role in order to get better at time management.


In my last position I was not pushed to meet hard deadlines. Honestly, I just didn’t have them.  Awesome, right? Well this new job of mine is nothing like the old job. It is go, go, go; and I love it! However, I am learning to prioritize on the fly – almost every day since I have been given 2 projects to start off with. One is big and is very important to the whole organization, and the other is important but a lot smaller in comparison. I also have other ad-hoc tasks that I complete that take time from my projects. My problem with all of this so far is that I have been a very involved worker throughout my whole career. I want to know everything about everything. I also want to do everything since then I will know that I got it done and there is no risk with someone else doing it. Well that’s a problem when you are a project manager and you a ton of stuff to do all the time and you stay in the “dig in” mentality. Well this type of problem then led me to look around online and I found a great blog with some ideas:

Everything is not important important!

  • Sit down with the boss to have them set you straight or be prioritized directly from them
  • Listen to all stakeholders, including your family to find out what items you are responsible for are holding them up
  • Document all arrangements of work to be completed for people and from people. (CYA)
  • Look backwards from the process diagram to find out your backward times which will give you deadlines you have to meet.

Become Organized (If you are not already)

  • Don’t waste time trying to figure out what you should be doing, let a system deal with that while you actually do something.

Cost, Scope, Time

  • Work backwards from when your deadlines are and how long your tasks will take. Creating a list for this will automatically give you priorities on what should be done.
  • Spend money when necessary to help get you back up above water again in your project’s progress.
  • Communicate with your stakeholders if things just aren’t going to plan and be honest so that they will see that you are working with them to get them everything they need

Delegate as much as possible

  • There may be people who can help you finish a task

Do any of you struggle with some of these problems in your PM roles? Or do you know people who do?


Delegation, is it an Art or a Science?

More than often project managers are swamped with too much work and still refuse or procrastinate in delegating some of the work to one or more of the team members in the project team. This is not specific to project management and fear of delegation is known to be present in all sectors, professions and all positions within corporations and firms. Here below it is listed the most common reasons why project managers do not delegate, properly, timely or not at all and when they do, how should they go about it:

Barriers from the project manager

–        Not enough time to properly explain the work to be performed and how

–        Fear of losing control of the task delegated and that the result will be disastrous

–        Fear of not getting credit for the quality and success of the delegated task

–        Fear of losing tasks that are enjoyed and getting stuck with the unwanted tasks

–        Fell that he/she can do it better and that the result will not be as perfect as it could

–        Fear of delegating-self out of a job as the senior management sees others with competence

–        Lack of confidence in team members with the fear that they will completely fail

Barriers from the team members

–        Not enough time to understand and assimilate the task to be performed

–        Not enough experience to execute such a task without asking too much and looking incompetent

–        Fear of failure and that such a failure can have serious consequences

–        Not their responsibility since tasks were not theirs in the first place

–        Fear of being a scapegoat and that the PM is just setting one up for failure

–        Reactions from other team members who may think you have some type of preference from the PM

Barriers from the situation

–        Constrained resources, when money is the biggest concern in the organization and failure is not an option whatsoever

–        Unclear hierarchy, when it is difficult to understand the lines of authority in the firm or corporation

Reasons not to delegate

–        When there’s lack of clarity, if you cannot understand it yourself do not expect others to understand it either

–        When you need the learning, so the delegation will prevent you from learning some core competence intrinsic to the task to be done

–        When the project is too high stakes and it is best that you get it done yourself and are in control all the time

To whom should the PM delegate

–        The experience, knowledge and skills of the individual

–        The individual’s preferred work style

–        The current workload of this person

How should the PM delegate

–        Clearly articulate the desired outcome

–        Clearly identify constraints and boundaries

–        Where possible, include people in the delegation process

–        Match the amount of responsibility with the amount of authority

–        Delegate to the lowest possible organizational level

–        Provide adequate support, and be available to answer questions

–        Focus on results

–        Avoid upward delegation

–        Build motivation and commitment

–        Establish and maintain control


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