10 Don’ts of Project Management to Prevent Project Failure


The art of Project Management isn’t something that can be taught and learned instantly. Sometimes it takes sheer skill to develop a knack for project managers. It could take years to reach that level of expertise. No matter how many PM certifications or diplomas you acquire, you will always find room for improvement. That’s how the professional world works these days.

Project management entails not only managing projects but also managing project teams. And being a competent project manager entails more than completing successful projects. It is also about being a competent team manager. Because it is the individuals on your team that make everything possible.

So, you should know DOs and DON’Ts for managing a project team. 

Whether you have been managing projects and teams for 5 years or 15, you can always avoid running into workplace pitfalls. Here are 10 don’ts of project management that you may have been hearing forever. However, in all honesty, these “don’ts” shape the outcome of every routine project:

1. Don’t alienate your team from decision-making:

According to a SAGE study, teams that were involved in decision-making worked with greater productivity, innovation, and motivation.

Remember, you get what you endorse. Project Managers that endorse participative behavior, have less jumble on their plates to deal with. Teams of such managers are constantly aware of their responsibilities as individuals and what is expected of them.

When you hand the autonomy of decision-making to your team, you show them the trust you have in their skills and more importantly the value of their role.

Your team no longer feels like they are involuntary robots programmed to follow strict guidelines and as a result, they develop a sense of liberation that propels them to pour extra effort into the project which relies not only on the shoulders of their project manager but on their heads as well.

2. Don’t conduct empty meetings bereft of agenda:

Ranking #2 on our list of don’ts of project management is conducting empty meetings.

According to a report by Attentiv, 63% of the total meetings held annually are conducted without an agenda.

Remember the boy who cried wolf? Well, you do not want to be the Project Manager who cried Meetings! For it is highly likely a day in time may arrive when your team would categorically stop believing in your leadership authority and will quit paying any significant attention to meetings of any nature.

Your team looks up to you for guidance, delegation, and future projections, ill-planned meetings are just another way of letting your team down and reconfirming their worse fear: their project manager is just as clueless as the rest of them.

Who said you absolutely have to conduct a meeting, with no real meeting scope or agenda in mind? Gather your team only when and if you require unanimous brainstorming, collaborative problem solving, and interactive exchange of ideas.

You have to think as a project team Project planning is a thorough process that encompasses scheduling, hazards, resources, communication, financial, and other aspects, i.e. determining project scope. Take it seriously; even little planning errors might have major effects in the future.

3. Don’t ignore small achievements in the face of large ones:

A Global Recognition Study revealed that 78% of U.S workers report that being recognized motivates them at their job.

Remember, your team is a network of humans working from the sweat of their brow to meet awry deadlines, fix pesky annoying bugs and turn in tedious deliverables one after another.

Sure, they go home at the end of the day to refuel on sleep, food, and family, but do you really think a pat on their back from the boss isn’t something that will work wonders in boosting their confidence to come to work the next day and work round the clock with equally unflinching dedication?

So, no matter how small the achievement is or how ordinary of a task is completed, make sure you applaud your team, recognize their hard work, and let them know, you appreciate the amount of effort they put in frying not just the bigger fish but the smaller ones too.

4. Don’t escape the feedback ritual:

Ranking #4 on our list of don’ts of project management is avoiding feedback.

“Annual performance reviews often are considered time-sucks of meaningless paperwork and awkward meetings between manager and subordinate who suddenly seem like strangers,” explains Katie Donovan in an interview with Forbes.

Instigate an ongoing system of feedback where you give regular input to your team members on their performance.

Nobody works 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, simply to get a paycheck, unless, of course, they are working in a factory with fixed methodologies that require little to no monitoring on behalf of a manager.

Sit with your team members individually, assess their work, and tell them what you think of their work process. Your team thrives on your words and what you think of them. Your feedback, be it constructive criticism or supportive empathy, is the force that drives them to better outcomes.

5. Don’t steer from automating your management workflow:

KPMG’s Project Management Survey 2017 reported that 80% of organizations, use more than one project management methodology.

If you think you can manage multiple projects, track time, monitor project budget and estimates, and assess team performance all by the effort of two mortal hands and a single brain, think again.

A task management tool will help streamline all the administrative as well as the technical glut which otherwise becomes a huge mishmash of to-dos, emails, due dates, reminders, and meeting invitations that either get lost or become a pain in the head to manage.

6. Don’t micromanage your team’s work:

The 6th doesn’t on our list of don’ts of project management is micromanagement at work.

A Trinity Solutions Survey reports that 85% of employees revealed that micromanagement had a negative impact on their morale, whereas 71% of the respondents said it served as an obstacle to their performance.

Refrain from over-indulging in your team’s work process. Your team needs its space to breathe and function confidently. Whereas You could really save the time and energy to overlook other more important aspects of the project.

Constant overview of performance reports and daily task updates tends to be suffocating for employees and also causes a strain on the trust that is crucial for the maintenance of a certain synergy between the management and the team.

7. Don’t prioritize urgency over importance:

Take it from Allan Koltin, CEO of Koltin Consulting Group Inc, who suggests creating 3 categories to place your high-priority tasks in: Must Do, Should Do, and Nice to Do.

As a project manager, you have a never-ending list of fires to put out, tasks to take care of, and plans to execute. And while you juggle all these and attempt to please everyone, you unintentionally run a high risk of mismanagement, unhappy clients or stakeholders, and patchy communication.

To effectively break down your urgent tasks, make use of the Action Priority Matrix. This matrix helps simplify your decision for you because to make use of the matrix you have to assess your tasks based primarily on their impact and the effort needed to pursue them.

8. Don’t set unrealistic deadlines:

Ranking #8 on our list of don’ts of project management is setting unrealistic, unachievable deadlines.

“The rule is, there are no unrealistic goals. There are only unrealistic deadlines” – Brain Tracy

There’s a thing called being ambitious. It takes you places. And then there is a thing called being over-ambitious. This could practically destroy you. Setting deadlines that are impossible to achieve, not only results in employee burnout but leaves the entire workflow hanging in a disorganized and unstructured order.

Employees begin to face a drop, in morale when they are unable to meet these humanly impossible deadlines. These short-term ramifications then turn into long-term consequences that result in employee turnover. Gradually teams start to disintegrate, moving for greener pastures elsewhere.

9. Don’t overlook project risks as petty issues:

“In the business world, the rear-view mirror is always clearer than the windshield” – Warren Buffet

Identifying risks, and unseen roadblocks, and formulating mitigation plans is a vital component of project management.

Every project is prone to one or more types of vulnerability, that can turn to jeopardize the integrity of the entire project if left unattended.

Keeping a solid repository of risks helps give everyone on the team a clear and transparent idea of how healthy and stable a project is.

Use a risk management tool to help you practice fast and adroit risk assessment, reporting, and mitigation.

10. Don’t levy an extra load to an understaffed team:

The last on our list of don’ts of project management is levying an overwhelming workload on the project team.

According to the Princeton Survey Research Associates, nearly 70% of workers feel as though they have too much work on their plates.

This should come as no surprise to you but the greater the level of stressed employees, the greater your employee turnover, drop in productivity, and ultimately a failure to deliver.

Avoid cramping your team members with huge anvils of work on top of already existing tasks. You might want to expand your team to divide the workload in case of a faster, finer workflow.

It is far more convenient to recruit your team wisely before the project kicks off.

Evaluate and assess which member possesses the skill set needed to get a certain job done.

And calculate a solid estimate of sufficient resources that will be needed at each stage of the project. This way you get to make maximum use of your resources and each member delivers to the best of his/her role.

Final Thoughts

When managing a project team, keep in mind that you have to think and act like a team. When there is an issue, this immediately supplies backup. These are the top practices that a project manager should avoid in order to improve communication and project progress monitoring.

Finally, you must do what is best for your team and project management.


1. What a project manager should not do? 

  1. Don’t alienate your team from decision-making:
  2. Don’t conduct empty meetings bereft of agenda:
  3. Don’t ignore small achievements in the face of large ones:
  4. Don’t escape the feedback ritual:
  5. Don’t steer from automating your management workflow:
  6. Don’t micromanage your team’s work:
  7. Don’t prioritize urgency over importance:
  8. Don’t set unrealistic deadlines:
  9. Don’t overlook project risks as petty issues:
  10. Don’t levy an extra load to an understaffed team

2. Do’s and Don’ts of Project Management? 

  • Involve them in decision making
  • Have meetings with the agenda
  • Use suitable software and techniques
  • Set your team up for success 
  • Celebrate small victories
  • Avoid isolating your team from decision-making:
  • Do not hold meetings without an agenda:
  • Do not overlook little accomplishments 
  • Do not dodge the evaluation routine

3. What exactly is bad project management?

Although the project manager is ultimately accountable for project success, bad project management occurs when they fail to appropriately manage project goals, finances, timetables, project teams, and change requests. Poor management is detrimental to the company, initiatives, and team.

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