Getting into project management can be tough, and if you’re new to this game chances are you’re already feeling a little nervous about your first projects. New project managers need to cope with the multiple demands of project management, as well as being able to walk the tightrope between keeping team members, stakeholders, users and managers all happy whilst also delivering what has been promised.
Managing projects is a skill you only learn part of from books and training courses. Much of your education will be done on the job, so don’t expect your first projects to be precision perfect. Here are some tips to help you manage your project like a pro, even if you haven’t had much experience before.
• Lead from the front
You need to be a leader, and good leaders lead by example. Imagine the qualities you want to see in your team, and ask yourself if you exhibit these qualities yourself? If you desire an open and honest line of communication with your colleagues, make sure you are being open and honest yourself. Don’t be afraid to admit when a gamble didn’t pay off; by watching you take risks, make mistakes and learn from those mistakes, your team will feel empowered to do the same.
• Balance participation with a decisive attitude
You know you need to involve people to get their buy in, and to keep them focussed and motivated. This means good communication and open consultation has a part to play in your success. However, you don’t want things to deteriorate into a talking shop, so recognise when it’s time to make a decision, and do so with confidence in your actions.
• Stay focussed on problem solving
Managing projects well is all about overcoming barriers and finding solutions to problems. Be tenacious in your attitude towards problem solving, and work in harmony with your team to develop successful solutions.
• Be flexible and adaptable
No matter how well you may have planned your project, something always happens that throws the well laid schedule out of the window. Be prepared for changes, challenges and major setbacks, and ensure you are flexible and adaptable enough to land right where you need to be by the end of the project course.
• Find win-win outcomes
In any project there will be multiple stakeholders, each of whom will believe their issues and agenda to be the most important. Use your creativity and agility to find win-win solutions that keep everyone happy without compromising the overall structure of your project.
• Get the best from your team
Project management is a team sport, and as much as you might think you can do it all by yourself, you cant. Your team are there to help and support you and being able to delegate effectively is as much a part of a project manager's role as anything else. You need time to manage, so let them use their skills to deliver. Get to know your team and their strengths and weaknesses to help you assign tasks to the best people for the job.