Be a Better PM by Kicking These 7 Bad Habits

David Whitemyer, AIA
Posted on: 12/29/17
Written by: David Whitemyer, AIA

Everyone has a few bad habits. But as a project manager at an architecture or engineering firm, you should be held to a certain set of professional standards that eschews some basic negative behaviors. To be a better PM, kick these bad habits.

1. Focusing Too Much On Email

There’s no better way to connect with your clients than by picking up the phone. And there’s no better way to work with your team than by walking over to their desks and meeting in person. Don’t hide behind your computer and a pile of CYA emails.

2. Texting During Meetings And Conversations

No matter how much negative media attention this gets, people still do it. During meetings, and especially during one-on-one conversations, put away your phone.

Don’t touch it. Turn it off. Texting or reading emails during meetings is rude.

3. Being Late

You’re supposed to be the most organized person on the project team. If you’re repeatedly late for meetings, you’re sending a message that it’s OK for everyone else to be late and that peoples’ time isn’t precious. On billable projects, time is money. Don’t be late.

4. Gossiping

You’ve heard it before: Nobody likes a gossip. It may seem fun to complain and tell stories about your clients, but don’t. Be the role model that shows you respect your clients, regardless of how dysfunctional they may be at times.

5. Making Yourself Too Available

It seems like the right thing to do, to tell your clients and project team that you’re “always available.” But this doesn’t respect the fact that you’ve got work to do, and you have a personal life. Make time for yourself, when you’re not available.

6. Ignoring Deadlines

If you don’t take project deadlines seriously, why should anyone else? Each time you let a milestone slide, without an alarm being sounded, you set a bad precedent. And this will just escalate until your project is a complete mess.

7. Keeping Everything In Your Head

Whether you use a Moleskin notebook, a piece of scratch paper, or an app on your phone, you should be writing things down. During meetings and phone calls, don’t rely on your memory. Get in the habit of taking notes, and in an organized manner. 

About the Author: David Whitemyer AIA is a licensed architect with over twenty years of experience in museum planning, exhibition design, and project management. He is the Director of Business Development at Luci Creative, an exhibit design firm. He served as a Senior Project Manager at Brent Johnson Design, and as the Director of Production at Christopher Chadbourne and Associates. 



Knowing what it means to be an effective PM is often very different from how to be an effective PM, and when expectations of seller-doer miracles are piled on top of difficult conversations (ever had to tell a client “no”?), feelings of empowerment often fizzle flat. That’s why we’re here to help. PSMJ's complimentary e-book Guide to Empowering Project Management is designed to synthesize some of our most insightful and actionoriented advice for project managers.

Download it now!

You might be interested in these other project management related blog posts:

How to Overcome Impediments to Effective Project Management

10 Things Every Project Manager Must Know

5 Tools Every Project Manager Should Be Using

8 Must-Haves For Effective Project Leadership



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