Project Management has many highs and lows; often times with unexpected twists and turns, yet even with all the uncertainty accompanying a typical project, with the focus and the right skills, you can help steer your project to success. Being an effective project manager enables you to utilize your skills to be a problem solving and creative leader where you can foster synergy within a team to accomplish great feats. As the project manager you are the face of the project and how you present yourself and manage your team will have a huge impact on whether you succeed or fail. By definition, each project is unique, but it’s not difficult to find commonalities woven throughout all projects. Mastering these specific aspects of a project, can set the stage for successful projects moving forward.
1. Remain Calm
As mentioned before, you are the face of your project. Your response to what’s happening within your project has great influence over how your entire team responds. It’s inevitable that unexpected events and issues will come up. Hey, if everything always went as planned, project managers wouldn’t be needed. It takes mental strength to meet adversity with a calm and collected disposition. We have all seen the PM that every time something unexpected occurs, the sky starts falling and the team spirals into chaos. This is a quick path to losing focus, time and wasting energy. Use these as opportunities to show your mental prowess.
When you get that unexpected news, slow down, take a few deep breaths and remind yourself this is just a bump in the road. Giving yourself a few minutes to digest what’s occurred without responding immediately, will allow you to think more clearly. This will also help you remain in a positive mindset. Successful people have a positive mindset that drives them to constantly finding smart solutions to issues and problems. As mentioned at Careeraddict.com, staying calm under pressure can make you successful as you develop a positive mindset through your stressful experiences. According to a study completed by Talent Smart, 90% of top performers in the workplace have a high EQ or emotional intelligence quotient. 58% of our job performance is based on our EQ. Our emotional intelligence is how effective we are at behaving and responding in a mature manner, as well as our ability to properly process circumstances around us.
2. Be Flexible
Flexibility is another key aspect of successful project management. Due to the constant change that circulate through projects, being able to adapt and show a willingness to put the project needs above your own preconceived plan of how things should go, will go a long way with your team, your stakeholders, and the success of your project. Flexibility can come in many forms; look for opportunities.
- You can be flexible with your team, modify your management style to help get the most out of your team, not everyone responds to the same style of management
- Plan, but if things go off the rails; regroup, revise and move forward
- What is delivered may be non-negotiable, but if your project isn’t going as planned, consider evaluating how the work is being done. There may be room for some tweaking.
- Show your value and expertise by treating unexpected events individually, knowing that no project is the same and being ready to shift at any turn shows that you are prepared for whatever comes your way.
3. Time Management
I’m sure you have heard it time and time again, it’s critical that you manage your time (personal and project timelines) as efficiently as possible. Here’s some tips on how to make the most of the time your have.
- Plan your day. It’s helpful if you do this at the end of the previous day. Schedule yourself 10 minutes of uninterrupted time at the end day to just think about what you accomplished and what still needs to be done. Write a to do list, so when you start working the next morning, you are ready to go.
- Use templates, don’t recreate the wheel. Whatever your deliverable, it’s likely that it’s not the first time someone has made the request. Tap into internal and external resources that can provide templates. When taking on a new deliverable it can be helpful spending a little bit of time researching before you start from scratch.
- Prioritize (80/20)- Make sure you are getting the most out of your efforts. org states, the Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule) states that for many phenomena 80% of consequences stem from 20% of the causes. Ensure that you have created a project plan that prioritizes tasks to get the most impactful work scheduled and completed as soon as possible.
- Don’t forget to press the Call Button. Often times, the quickest way to resolve an issue or miscommunication is to get the appropriate people on a call to discuss. This can eliminate wasted hours, days or even weeks of going back and forth trying to clarify next steps or resolve an issue.
From start to finish, communication is a critical component of any successful project. At the start of the project, it’s important that the project scope, desired outcome and key players involved are clearly communicated up front and that the entire team has buy in. However, it doesn’t stop there, through the remainder of the project, the Project Manager, must provide clear communication, dictate how information will be shared and ensure that some type of RACI matrix is followed. This will ensure that everyone, top to bottom is up to date on project status and next steps. It’s also important to develop open communication channels and check in with your team regularly. Establish a good rapport with your team it helps them feel comfortable communicating issues, timelines or scope concerns.
At the close of a project it’s crucial that you receive proper sign off from the entire team that all deliverables and commitments were met and that all issues have been resolved. Undoubtedly, you and your team just put a lot of effort in delivering an awesome project, you don’t want to have a small unresolved issue turn into long, drawn out issue that needs attention after your team has been released from the project. Plus, it’s a great feeling of accomplishment for you and your team when a project is wrapped up and you ensured that all your i’s were dotted, and t’s were crossed.
Project management can be a roller coaster of emotions, but it’s important to remember you can help dictate how wild of a ride will be. You can’t control everything; but you can monitor and manage your response to the uncertainty by showing flexibility. Try staying ahead of potential issues and risks by using efficient time management and prioritize critical work up. Develop and encourage strong communication practices and lead by example. Lastly, use your closing process to illustrate your attention to detail and ability to ensure all loose ends are tied up, resulting in a successful project.
Reach out to our team If you would like to learn more about how our Project Managers can add value to your project teams.
Written By: Natalie Higgins, LookingPoint Project Manager