So you are a new project manager at Insert Your Company Here? Congratulations new employee! But what if this is your first time in this position? Either as an intern or your first time in a big boy company, you might be feeling a little nervous. We all want you to succeed, because a good project manager can make or break a small company. So from our Project Manager to you, here are 7 tips to succeed at project management.
- Master your Tools
Whether using a project management software, like Asana or Basecamp, or overseeing a project schedule in Google Calendar you need to be the master of these programs. Knowing these tools inside and out is paramount to leading your team and keeping the client updated with the latest progress on their projects. Most likely these will be collaborative tools and you will be in charge of how they are utilized as well as answering questions when someone new joins the project.
- Listen with Intent
As the project manager you are the main channel of communication between the client and your team. Your role is meant to facilitate communication, not make it an obstacle. If the client needs to talk directly to a member of the team always make sure to be CC’d or included in the conversation because information is your friend. But when you are talking to the client or a developer your mind needs to be a sponge, absorbing all the information that is coming your way so you can effectively relay it to its destination. The reason why we have a job is because usually not all clients have the technical know how and developers don’t always know how to explain technical concepts to them. This is where we come in and why we need to listen and catch all the details.
- Embrace the Change
Every new project brings it own amount of uncertainty and as the project manager you’re going to need to be able to think on your feet and adapt to new things on the fly. Not only that but it will fall on your shoulders to get the rest of the team acclimated to these changes in the least painful way possible. Be the person who is prepared for emergencies and with the strong solutions.
- Helpful, Honest, Humorous
So here’s the thing, you’re in charge for the most part. You aren’t a dictator though… hopefully. You need to exude an air of confidence but also be approachable and relatable because you are the person that the client will interact with the most. Be honest, helpful and humorous. These qualities will let the client come to you easier and know that you are reliable and want them to succeed.
- Be Realistic
This is something that a lot of project managers can drop the ball on. It is dependent on many factors such as project scope, development speed and how much money is being toward the project. However it is your job as the project manager to set realistic milestones and goals, as well as keeping the client in this mindset. It is easy for them to forget that your team has other projects going on, and it is your responsibility to manage their goals and keep their expectations grounded in reality. That doesn’t mean being lazy or slow with development goals, but knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your team and making sure the goals set are attainable.
- Team Player to the Extreme
Honestly this should be a no-brainer. You’re job is to also serve the interest of your team as well as the client. To do that you need to be able to communicate and be included in almost every conversation/discussion. You’re the point of communication when asking for help for your team and when relaying news to your clients. Be involved in all aspects of the project to better know how to approach problems, and be a transparent problem solver.
- Hold Regular Meetings
Something that I have found to be really helpful when managing a project is having project meetings and meetings with the team and client. This is a time to ask and answer questions in an open forum and discuss any fears or strategies you might be feeling about a project. The trick is to make sure that these meetings do stay on topic and that no one feels like they couldn’t bring up their point or question. This is also a time to get caught up on the work loads your team is going through as well as getting updates on where projects are in their development.
I hope that these tips will help you in your career as you go about it, or if you’re curious about what it means to be a project manager. If you feel like you would like to join our team and have the qualifications, attitude and technical know how to do it, then I encourage you to send us your resume.