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How to Deal With a Frustrating Project

Have you ever worked on a project that annoyed you, or just didn’t go the way that it should? This article could help you. Learn how you can deal with a frustrating project in this article.

What Is A Frustrating Project?

As software developers, we work on projects. A company gets a certain amount of money to spend on a software development team, with the aim of releasing some kind of software.

You’re a part of this team. And the hope is that the project goes smoothly, or only has a couple of minor problems or delays (let’s face it, most projects do).

But when does it cross the line from “minor project issues” to “really frustrating”?

Here’s a few situations:

  • Regularly changing direction of the project
  • Unable to confirm requirements
  • Being micromanaged and monitored for daily productivity
  • Management setting deadlines without consulting the team

I’ve been involved in projects that have each of these traits. It’s very frustrating.

So, what do you do in this situation? If you’ve got concerns or are frustrated about the project you’re working on, there are a few things you can do.

Speak to Your Manager

The first thing that I recommend you do, and that I tell others, is that you speak to your manager about any concerns that you might have.

Frustration is an emotional state, and it’s got to be coming from somewhere. It’s often from having concerns about the project or the situation.

So, go and speak to your manager about these concerns. Try not to use it as a venting session, but try to get your point across. I know, that can sound hard, but here’s a few tips:

  • Think about your concerns before speaking to your manager, so you have something to focus on.
  • Make the project the focus of your discussion, not the company or the people.
  • Come prepared with a solution to a problem. It may not be accepted, but it shows you have thought of a solution.

Let’s take an example. Suppose that the senior management for the project are changing the direction of the project several times. This means you might have to rethink your architecture, change the user interface, reprioritise work, and make other code adjustments.

To senior management, this might just mean picking up a new set of stories from the backlog for the next iteration. But, for the team, it means time wasted with making other changes, and having to gather more requirements from the business analysts.

This could mean that the scheduled release date is at risk.

What you shouldn’t do is go to your manager and call senior management “incompetent” or “foolish”. What you should do is speak to your manager and explain that extra work is needed, and that the release date is at risk. Let him or her know you are concerned. Suggest a possible solution, if you have one, such as reducing the overall scope, or not making the change in direction.

It’s a more productive discussion that way, and it helps to stay positive. And, if senior management are aware of these issues, they can be more considerate of all of the facts in the future.

Speak To Your Coworkers

If you’re frustrated by your project, it’s likely that your co-workers are frustrated too.

I suggest finding some time to speak to them about it too. Find out what they think of the project and how they think it’s going. See if they share the same concerns as you.

Try not to turn it into a gossip session, but rather something that is productive and that you can learn something from.

Perhaps you’ll learn that your concerns aren’t as big as you thought. It’s possible.

Or, you’ll learn that they share your concerns as well. Maybe they have seen projects like this before, and can offer some advice on what to do and how to deal with it.

Pick Your Battles

If your project is constantly frustrating, then you’ll likely have a lot of concerns with it and a lot to discuss with others.

However, there’s a saying for situations like this, and it’s called “pick your battles”.

It means that while you might have a lot of things to challenge people on and concerns about the project, it’s not a good idea to fight all of them.

Sure, make your manager aware of any concerns that you have, but do this in a productive way rather than picking a fight. If you are negative and try to fight everything, then it doesn’t look good on you and can do more harm than good.

Find Another Job

The final suggestion I have for you is to find another job.

If the project doesn’t improve, if your manager can’t do anything to address your concerns, or if you can’t work in the environment, then finding another job is something you might want to consider.

While it can be a long process and can be challenging, it could be worth it in the long run.

You’ll escape the project you’re working on and move into something that’s hopefully more productive and has less issues.

Sure, it takes time, and isn’t something you should do every time that you get a frustrating project, but it’s something to consider.

So, there’s my advice for dealing with a frustrating project. How have you dealt with projects like this in the past? What advice do you have?