10 Things Successful Project Managers Never Tolerate


  •  Minute Read

Project managers are not just managers. They’re leaders. Project managers shape and influence their project culture for good or bad.

Tolerance can be a great trait. However, project managers must be deliberate in what we will tolerate and what we will not tolerate. Project managers must refuse to tolerate things that cause disorder, degradation, and uncertainty.

picture of Harry Hall

As leaders, we must first walk the talk. Before addressing the intolerable things of others, let’s first make sure we’re living up to that standard…lead with integrity. Here are a few things that I find intolerable in myself and my projects.

  1. Poor communications. George Bernard Shaw said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” Communication – the human connection – is the key to project success. Project managers must be intentional about creating an environment where team members and stakeholders willingly share and listen to one another.
  2. Burned out team members. Some projects require extra effort. We may have to work evenings and weekends to get a new product out the door. However, burning the candle at both ends should NOT be the norm. Be sure that team members take vacation time and have time to refresh.
  3. Ineffective risk management. No one embarks on a project with hopes the project will slowly fade into oblivion. Create a healthy and consistent habit of identifying threats and opportunities. Focus on the risks that matter. Develop your response plans. Take ACTION. Evaluate.
  4. A slack team member. Do you have a habitually lazy person on your team? Coach and support this individual. If the team member is unwilling to get on board, remove this bad apple from the team. One of the most common complaints I’ve heard from team members through the years is when team leaders don’t address poor performance by individual team members.
  5. Team members that fail to own their gaps. A gap is the difference between what is expected and what actually happens. Things happen. Team members may encounter issues that hinder their ability to complete a task. Ask your team members to own the gap and notify you as quickly when issues surface. Support them. Help find solutions to keep things on track.
  6. Poorly run meetings. Poorly run meetings are expensive. The sad thing is they don’t have to be. Meetings are not bad in and of themselves…it’s what we fail to do before, during, and after meetings that render them ineffective. Here are 5 Things to Start and 5 Things to Stop in Project Meetings.
  7. Individuals who cause division. “Unity is strength…when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved,” said American poet Mattie Stepanek. Diversity and differences of opinions can be a great thing, but let’s uphold unity as a core value in our teams. At the end of our meetings and the end of our day, let’s be unified toward achieving our project objectives.
  8. Mediocre Quality. Project managers should lead in a manner that ensures value and excellence. While we must guard against gold plating, we should work hard to fulfill the requirements of the project…no so-so effort.
  9. Disrespect between the project manager and team members. When team members are under a lot of stress, individuals may react to situations in inappropriate ways. Team members may be curt and say things that hurt others. When you see disrespectful manners, discuss the behavior with individuals one-on-one. Encourage respect, even when there are disagreements.
  10. Poor decision making. Because team members are busy and in a hurry, individuals may make decisions without asking who is impacted or purposely hide things from the stakeholders. Some project managers commit to schedules without getting input from the people who will do the work. These shortcuts almost always backfire with time. Engage the individuals who will be impacted.

The Purpose Drive Project Manager

The Purpose Driven Project Manager. Your ability to engage and influence your team members is essential to your success. I've written The Purpose Driven Project Manager to provide a go-to guide for ten common project problems with practical tips for improving your interpersonal skills

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"Intelligent leadership, creative communication and depth of technical skill all describe Harry Hall." –John Bartuska, Director of HR–ONUG Communications

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