1. “What problem are we trying to solve here?”
It seems that solving the TOP PROBLEMS or prioritizing is more and more difficult these days, it means your project goals and objectives have not been clearly communicated. Coming from a project manager, it suggests your project is on shaky ground in high places. When your team doesn’t know the true agenda, it’s tough to tap the team’s creativity on the key issues. Perhaps you presume that the project’s purpose is so obvious it’s not worth articulating. If so, you’re wrong – articulate your goals. Projects don’t fail from over-communicating.
2. “Failure is not an option.”
The project attitude is more important than I can express, a healthy project shows immediately. A project that doomed is cut off from information from the team about risks to the project because people think the leaders prefer not to hear about problems. And by cutting off a line of communication where team members can talk about the failure options – and how to cut them off, this mantra actually increases the chances of failure.
3. “Office politics are undermining this project.”
It’s always a red flag when corporate politics and project goals conflict, whether the politics bleed over into the field and are not fully support the job its neglect and can threaten your project. Furthermore, the morale dip that comes from whispers of any negative office politics can fracture a team’s commitment and focus.
4. “You’re over budget on overtime.”
At least two problems here. First, you’ll wear out your team because the project plan is flawed. Second, nobody’s watching the budget, and projects that run out of money rarely end well. Excess overtime suggests the manager has taken on more work than the team can accomplish. The bigger failure is that when resources are spread too thin, the most important projects are starved of resources.
5. “We’ll put lipstick on this pig later.”
Quality issues catch up with you sooner, not later. What happens after the project is over and the pig still isn’t wearing any lipstick?
6. “I’ll get on it right away (yawn).”
Someone’s suffering either a lack of commitment or interest. For a team, it’s a problem. From a stakeholder, it’s an even bigger problem. This glaring lack may surface when people no-show for meetings, or turn passive after active participation. Other warning signs: “I never got that email” and “I’ll do my best.” Followed by more yawning.
7. “The team’s in a state of discord.”
Now you’re beyond poor communication and entering project self-destruction. Discord destroys project progress. Head this one off at the poor- communications stage, before it turns into a weather system of discord.
8. “That milestone doesn’t really matter as long as we finish on time.”
How you get to the finish line matters. And missing a milestone jeopardizes the entire timeline, every time. Missed milestones also alert clients and stakeholders that something’s amiss. Call in the team and develop a plan to catch up.
9. “We should take this in a whole new direction.”
To finish a project on time you can’t change direction mid-way through the project, at least not without addressing timelines, resources and budget. If you’re adding or subtracting components halfway through the project, something larger is going wrong. Don’t be a passive victim of scope creep – it will cost you.
If this is ever the answer to “Can you bring me up to speed on the project?” you’re in trouble. You, and anyone on your team, should be able to give the current status on the project, or at least a portion of it. If not, don’t expect fireworks for your annual review.