Being an effective project manager in the ever-changing project management landscape needs more than just having the right combination of personal traits and a dedicated skillset. Even seasoned project managers experience difficulties in successfully overseeing projects, because every assignment brings with it new challenges and different criterion.
Project managers who have been in the field long enough will agree that this profession needs a delicate balance between science and art. Science, as an array of professional qualifications, abilities, and knowledge acquired through experience, hard work, and lifelong study of this field. Art, as an inherent talent for leadership, organization, communication, and creativity with a slight hint of intuition to foresee problems even before they arise.
For those who often find the project management process daunting, here are some tips to help you become an effective project manager.
1. Prioritize Your Soft Skills
Project managers are often accorded great respect for their leadership abilities and, as a result, soft skills are of great importance. To be an effective project manager, you must be able to bring out the best performance from all project team members. They might need to take up the role of a coach, helping everyone else work together. They might need to engage in tough conversations with the stakeholders and team members. All this will require a bunch of soft skills.
Besides, the success of a project will significantly depend on the skills of your team members. Effective managers will often make efforts to know each of their team members inherent weaknesses and strengths so as to allocate work accordingly. Prioritizing soft skills and tapping in the strengths of your team members will ensure prompt task completion and better time management. And with every team member putting their best foot forward and utilizing their strengths, the project will experience tremendous success.
2. Leverage Project Management Tools
Technology has been a charm for most project managers, with online project management software being at the top of this list. Typically, the software serves as a big store-house for all critical project information. From documents to files, giving feedback to file sharing, seamless collaboration to effective communication – project management software serves as a centralized platform not only for the project manager but everyone else in the team.
3. Hone Your Skills With Project Management Training
While you might have the right balance of soft skills, the truth is that effective project management will also require a bunch of technical skills – most of which you will acquire from the various PM certifications. Also, many people assume that project management training is for new/junior project managers, which is certainly not the case. There are numerous project management courses available – from beginner to more advanced ones – which can improve your skills for effective project management.
With project management training, you can also fill any skill gaps you might be experiencing or refresh a few of the methodologies and key project management principles you learned some years back. In most cases, project management certification is often associated with high performance.
4. Communication is Key
Besides being an important leadership trait, you must possess, communication is also essential in effective project management. To run your projects smoothly, consistent and effective communication must take place between the relevant stakeholders and clients. Besides, new changes must be relayed to team members to prevent “surprise attacks.” As a project manager, the greatest step you can take towards effective project management is ensuring that all communication lines between your team members and yourself are always open so that anyone can come up to you with any questions or doubts.
Ineffective communication could result in project failure. As a result, ensure everyone has the necessary information to make good decisions and push the project forward. Project status reports are also great for keeping everyone in the loop and updating them about all new project developments.
5. Learn From Other Project Managers
Effective project management isn’t all about relying on a single skill set. A significant step you can take towards being effective in your role is taking project management as a learning experience by studying the more experienced project managers as well as the different approaches and techniques they use. You could also seek professional development in different project manager networks to learn how other project managers are effectively managing their teams, projects, budgets, and time. You will be surprised by how much you can learn by comparing notes with other project managers, including those operating in an industry that’s entirely different from yours.
6. Always Set Deliverables
After outlining the goals of your project, specific metrics should be set to keep track of your progress. In project management, these metrics are known as deliverables and could align with the goal or be a tangible milestone towards achieving an objective. To be an effective project manager, you must always settle these deliverables in advance, particularly when you have more variables to consider. A project manager should obtain as much agreement as he can upfront regarding what the deliverables should be and when they will be complete.
7. Evaluate Project Performance
Once the goal is achieved, it is easy to skip the final and most crucial step to being an effective project manager; evaluating the project performance. If you’re looking for an opportunity for future improvement, evaluation is vital. This could be broken down in two stages; how did the project turn out and a review of the deliverables. These evaluations are helpful not just for a project manager but also the client, especially if they will take on something similar in future.
There are many ways to become an effective project manager. Incorporating these seven tips in your life and them translating them to your project management project will translate into great benefits in the final product, more respect from your team members and a great adventure towards project management success.