How Does One Become a Successful Project Manager?
If you’ve found yourself managing a project with no experience, welcome to the club! Occasional project managers are the new norm in the workplace since bosses seem to think that it’s easy to do “while you’re working on it anyways”. Usually, a team member gets appointed (willingly or otherwise) to manage the team and often, without the formal project management training.
So if you’ve landed this role, here’s a list of some areas to be aware of to make managing your project a success:
1. People & Communication Skills:
If you’re running a project, odds are you’ll have a team. Teams are made up of people with differing views, experiences and opinions. So as the leader, you need to manage these from all angles to reduce friction and to move things in the right direction.
At it’s core, this means communication. Good communication is built off a clear vision of what you’re talking about. So you need to be sure that can see the bigger picture of how this project will help your company. Then, make sure that each team member has received and understands the same message.
When communicating as a project manager, you need to:
- Convey information clearly to your team
- Be sure that team members understand the information
- Get buy-in from the members and
- Listen to their responses (positive or negative)
- Understand their points of view
- Remove obstacles preventing them from doing their job
- Provide regular status updates to all stakeholders including managers, team members and coworkers.
People are emotional, so by being aware of your own feelings when receiving feedback is a good start. Empathy towards team members is also something you must bring to each encounter. After this, it’s a balancing act to bring everybody on board and get them working together towards the project’s goal.
2. Negotiation with Multiple Stakeholders
A project is a temporary endeavor with a beginning and an end, aimed at achieving a defined result. Since they usually fit outside the day-to-day operations of the company, project managers tend to have to “fight” for resources to make sure their team can deliver.
You will have to deal with your bosses, managers of other stakeholders, departments, project managers and even individual team members to get buy in and bring their skills to your team. This is where the art of negotiation comes in.
Learning how to deal with different people means understanding what motivates them. What they want may not align with your interests, so you’ll need to find the middle ground. This takes practice and may not always work out, but as a project manager you need to stand your ground and try to get the best outcome for all parties.
3. Decision Making
Projects need to have strong leadership and certainty in decision making. Indecisiveness leads to confusion and can cause unease within the team. You may not always make the right call, but a call based on available evidence could be the best thing you can do.
However it pans out, take ownership of your decisions and if it’s the wrong one, take the steps to improve on it.
4. Managing Project Costs
Cost control is a massive part of a project manager’s job. Sources show that up to 85% of every project is over budget to some degree. Reasons cited include inexperienced project managers and human error. You don’t want to be one of them.
Learning how to properly estimate time, resources and the budget required takes practice but it’s important to keep this on top of mind.
5. Nurturing Your Team
“You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink it”. Assigned team members may not be willing to work on the project. Or they may not understand the value of it to the company. Communication, listening and trying to understand their point of view and aligning the needs of the project with this to bring them onboard.
Your job as a project manager involves supporting the team members and removing obstacles from their path. You’ll need to communicate and over communicate to be sure everybody is on the same page and that the goals are being achieved.
6. Creating a Strategy
Taking the overall goal of the project and mapping out how you will achieve it reduces the chances of project failure by 33%. Being aware of the bigger picture helps you to piece together how each team member will enable the project completion.
7. Organization Skills
Success in your project will rely largely on your organization skills as the project manager. Aligning the resources, budget and time in the correct fashion will be crucial in completing your tasks for the project. Using a system or software can help to keep on top of the project and give you full visibility over where you stand with this.
As a project manager, you need to have a strong interest in learning continuously, as well as staying updated with the latest software along with other technologies. Doing so will not only help you and your team have an edge over others, but also increase your chances of better risk management. Although precision may still not cut down the chances of risk, it is better to stay up to date with technology with your projects. You should also be able to use Office 365 for project management.