7 Ways to Succeed as a Project Manager

By Vinai Prakash

7 Ways to succeed as a Project Manager - as printed in the Straits Times, Recruit Section on June 11, 2007. Written by Vinai Prakash

1. Learn to use project management tools effectively

A variety of wonderful project management software tools exist today that helps in keeping track of the numerous tasks, their sequence, the critical path, the dependency on other people, and major milestones. Such tools are essential to plan, manage and track any kind of project today.

If you are new to project management or new to project management tools, you are incurring a double risk to the project. Make sure you get familiar and know how to use the tools effectively, as they will aid you in your projects immensely.

They also show that you have given some time to planning and you can use the project plan to present progress and communicate to management or team members.

2. Be able to give and receive criticism

Giving criticism effectively is not easy. There is a fine line between upsetting your team member and offering constructive feedback that will help the team member and the project. Likewise, the ability to receive criticism and take it positively is crucial for project managers.

It is easy to avoid criticism. Say nothing, do nothing, and be nothing. If your are going to move mountains, you are going to have to accept a little flak.

You can attend short workshops on how to give constructive feedback to help you in this area.

3. Be receptive to new ideas & procedures

Nobody knows everything. Sometimes we are so busy making ends meet, that we are not able to look at the big picture or think out of the box. Develop a culture where your team members continuously look for new ideas, new ways to make things better and discuss with you.

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
– George Bernard Shaw, “Man and Superman”

4. Address issues immediately

If two members of your project team can’t stand each and cooperation is vital to the success of the project, address the issue head on. Either find a way that they can work professionally, or modify roles and assignments, or do what makes most sense. But don’t let the issue linger on, as it will come back to haunt you, and cause greater stress later on. Issues seldom disappear on their own.

This also relates to your decision making skills. Are you a quick decision maker, or do you keep thinking forever, waiting to make the best decision? Remember, no decision is good or bad at the time of making it. Only time can tell if it was a good decision or not. So why wait? Evaluate the best alternative, and proceed.

You can always adjust course along the way and steer accordingly to your destination anyway.

5. Manage Your Time Well

Organize your desk, your projects, your email and your time well. There are too many things vying for your attention at any given time. Make sure you spend your time on the things that matter the most. A very good book on this topic is First Things First, by Steven Covey.

In the same vein, most of the manager’s time is spent in meetings. Make sure you have a clear agenda for the meetings you organize, list what decisions need to be made, and work with a fixed, short time period to end the meeting with a decision. Start the meeting on time, and end on time too!

6. Delegate. Don’t micro-manage

One of the dilemma most newbie project managers find is that it takes ages to get some team members to understand what they need to be done.. The project manager get frustrated with explaining the same thing again and again, and keep getting a completely different output than what they expected. So they end up doing it themselves. The more they do things themselves, the less time they have to manage and track the project.

This is a Catch22 situation. If you will not invest time in building the knowledge and skills of your team, you can never expect to achieve major success. There is only a certain amount of work you can do yourself. Make sure your team complements you, and can deliver quality work on their own. If required, send them for training, attach mentors or buddies to help them learn the ropes quickly.

7. Track and Communicate often

Track the progress often, and communicate to all stakeholders. Regular communication keeps everyone happy, and they continue to have the trust in you as an effective and efficient project manager, who stays on top of things.

You can use standard forms or templates for updating progress. We also offer a number of free templates for project management, planning, communicating etc. to all our workshop participants. These templates make the tasks of the project manager easier, as all the required columns are pre-defined, and you have to do is to fill in the blanks.

Many such time saving tips, tricks, negotiating techniques are covered and tried in group settings in our Practical Project Management workshop with MS Project.

And if you are aspiring to become a PMI certified Project Manager, join our PMP Exam Prep Training Program.

Article written by Master Trainer, Vinai Prakash. All Rights Reserved.

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