Some Useful Hints and Tips for the New Project Manager
In today’s fast moving electronic working environments, people often find themselves thrown into having project management responsibility rather than it being their intended career path, especially in smaller companies where it is not feasible to pay either a full-time salary or contract costs for a dedicated project manager. With this in mind, there are a few helpful hints and tips that can set you on the right road to success.
Establish clear communications. Make time to talk face to face with team members, to help build a good working rapport. Communicate with all of your stakeholders. To do this, you need to be clear, firstly, who they are, so spend time thinking about this. Secondly, consider how best to keep them updated with project progress. In some cases, this might be a printed report, in others, perhaps an email. Being able to communicate effectively both with team members and stakeholders is probably the most important skill a project manager must have.
When you don’t know, say so
Being a good project manager doesn’t mean you need the all the answers. In fact, managing a project is all about managing others who have the specialist skills that you don’t necessarily have. A key skill in your toolbox, then, is understanding when to ask others for their input and advice.
Lead your team
Lead your team in way that you have the authority for the project’s progress but such that you allow your team to feel valued and able to make open contributions. Defer to their knowledge and skill and try to understand and capitalize on what motivates them. If you can be a good leader, your team will follow willingly.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
The project manager who is new to the discipline can sometimes see the unnecessary need to make changes to show that they’re having an effect. The successful project manager, however, makes good use of what’s already proven and in place. Of course, if changes are really needed, they need to be made. But as a new project manager, make sure you assess how things are really working before you rock the boat.
Tackle problems head on
No project can run from start to finish without experiencing problems. Hopefully, you will have anticipated them as the project progresses, and they will have been captured as risks. But even then, with good risk management, unexpected problems arise, and, when they do, it’s important to tackle them promptly rather than ignoring them in the hope they won’t impact the outcome. So, handle any problems as soon as they arise. If you can’t sort them, escalate to someone who can.
Understand the available technologies
There are a number of project management applications that are available on-demand over the internet and, as such, are relatively inexpensive, many with solutions for every size of company. Using a centralized web-based application like Liquid Planner, Desk Away or Basecamp gives you a platform for a) communicating with your team and stakeholders, b) planning and monitoring the project progress, and c) storing project related documentation in a single location, amongst many other application-specific features. Don’t work in the dark, use one of these applications to work collaboratively to achieve project success.