Five Issues That Frustrate Creative Project Managers

Brad Egeland Jan 2, 2015 3 min read

Now is our chance. Yes... our turn to complain. Think hard. When you're managing a project, what really grinds your gears? What bothers you and makes you want to blow your top? What behaviors or actions, questions or issues show up and really drive you crazy? Think hard now... this is your chance to gripe about them.

Well, keep thinking and I will share my personal top five (in no particular order):

Teams that won’t follow – or rogue team members.

Expecting your team to follow directions is something that is at the very core of project management. Certainly, there are differences between individuals, conflicts that arise between team members, etc. However, the expectation that you are going to assign tasks and that they get done within a reasonable timeframe is something that the project manager counts on – week in and week out. When that doesn’t happen, or when one team member starts working on their own tasks on the project or some “modified” version of what’s expected, that can cause major problems on the project – both in terms of cost and time frame AND in terms of scope management. I’ve had a couple of team members go rogue on me on projects in the past and getting them to that reset point and back on track wasn’t that hard. It was, however, hard to make up for the time and money lost in the process.

Management that won’t listen.

I expect communication to be a two-way street. I’ve been frustrated a few times in the past when I’ve relayed things on projects – concerns and issues – that need follow-up only to find there was no action…no follow-up. I do realize our management is busy…but it is part of their job to listen, follow-up on issues or assign other resources to assist or make a quick phone call to the client if that’s what is needed. Do as you say you will do. That is a golden rule for us all, management included.

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Budgets that are unreasonable.

Possibly the biggest frustration of all is a project budget that is completely unreasonable. That goes for timeframes as well – they are interchangeable in this discussion. When handed an unreasonable budget or timeframe, push back. I have in the past…but sometimes that will lead to the previous frustration – management won’t listen. And then everyone is surprised when the budget is gone 75% of the way through the project.

Clients that disappear.

Working without client interruption may seem like a dream project, but it isn’t. At the end of the day, we still need them to be satisfied with the outcome. If they aren’t providing input and feedback during the project, the likelihood that we will meet their needs dead-on at the end of the project is very slim. I’m not saying that requirements will change throughout, but wants and needs get tweaked and suddenly the background color for the ad for the client who hasn’t been around is a big deal and it is different than what they asked for initially…so we are in for re-work…and added expense…and added time…

Revolving resources.

Here today, gone tomorrow is not my idea of stability. Not even close. When I manage a creative project for a client who expects me and my team to deliver a design or product or strategy to them that will work, I need a team that I can count on to be there when they are needed. Frustration sets in not only for me but also for my project client when I start to lose key resources to other projects. It makes it hard for me and my team due to the loss of continuity on the project. It’s also very frustrating for my project client who feels like we can’t serve them well with a unified consistent team.  I keep having to get back up to speed when another team member is onboard… and the client is right. It is difficult…and it’s hard to manage the project successfully under these circumstances.

How about our readers? What are your biggest frustrations on the projects you’ve managed? Maybe not every project, maybe not a frequent occurrence, but what has come up a few times that really frustrates you as you try to lead successful projects for the organization?


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