Helping your team achieve success, one skill at a time
Project management is an essential skill for entrepreneurs as well as managers and executives of large companies. Many come up with new ideas for ways to be more efficient or make more money, or a whole new product or service. But, ideas won’t do you any good if you can’t execute them, and execute them well.
Think about project management like juggling. You have to be well rounded, skillful and precise. To be successful in project management you need to have what are called hard and soft skills. Hard skills include time management, assessment of risk, finance and people allocation and organizational skills. Soft skills include verbal and non-verbal skills, listening and communication skills, conflict management skills and leadership skills. These are all critical factors of an efficient project leader for projects.
Leadership is a combination of different elements for a coherent whole. A fundamental role as a project manager is to direct a team of individuals toward a common goal. An effective leader can make a group of strangers work as a cohesive unit pursuing the same objective. When team members understand the project, why it’s being created, their role and responsibility, their interconnections and were they fit into the big picture, they are more effective as individuals and as a team.
Organization can help tremendously when developing a plan of action for your project. Your plan should include responsibilities, schedules, expenses, resources required and the risks involved in the project plan detail. While planning, it is easy to get bogged down by trying to put tasks in order, so you may consider brainstorming tasks at first. Once you know what needs to be done, arrange the tasks in the most logical sequence for getting your project completed. Just add in extra tasks whenever it arises.
Budgeting is another managerial skill required to ensure the success of a project. Be realistic when creating your budget. Don’t be too conservative or too expensive it can be damaging to your bottom line. Be very aware of the amount of money coming in, what your operational costs are when considering your project, and what you need to complete it.
Multi-tasking is thinking like that juggler again. To be an effective project manager, you have to be able to do many tasks at once, and meet many different needs of all your employees to be successful. Taking a phone call with Marge? But Don is in your office with a server emergency. Dealing with both things at once is crucial to your team. They will all need you, and you will have to be there for them.
Being detail oriented is essential to the success of your project. You must be able to check for mistakes and slip ups, and think of every little thing your project needs from all angles.
Having good technical skills goes along with being a good multi-tasker to be a successful project manager. You have to be able to solve all kinds of problems, even technical ones. If you have any kind of IT background, it can save you time and money in the long run.
Keep your eye on the clock
Want to meet your deadline? Then learn to manage your time. This includes managing your own time and also that of your team members. Remember, a timeline should be created only after it is broken down into its component tasks. Each task should be given clear timelines too, with enough buffer time incorporated. This will help prevent delays and distractions when new tasks arise.
Remember what’s important
It is very important to integrate what are called “indicators” into your plan, and make them clear to all team members. Indicators help everyone understand the priorities for each project. For example, if budget savings is the most important element of your plan, create lead indicators that phase in incremental savings to your project. If your deadline is the highest priority, create lead indicators that focus on achieving completion of your project on time.
We’re done playing hardball
Having good hard or technical skills takes care of only part of the project. Getting your team to work together, exchange information, and incorporate openness is equally important. Here’s where your soft skills come into play. Keeping the lines of communication with your team open, and remaining available to feedback from them at all stages of the project is vital to a project’s success. Being polite, honest, and respectful will motivate them to do their part in completing the project. Conflict resolution skills will be essential as well as you deal with many different personalities to achieve your goals.
Open and regular communication about the project will help you steer clear of many stumbling blocks along the way. The best way to do this is check in with your employees regularly. Ask them how they’re doing, if they’re having any problems with the project, and help them troubleshoot. Opening the lines of communication builds trust among your employees, and helps them be motivated to do a great job on your project.
Go team go!
You can create a strong, professional working environment by genuinely helping your team members grow and explore their potentials – not just for the benefit of the company but also for their own personal growth.
Share your personal experiences with similar projects, be there for them in times of personal crisis, build them up during times of success and you will build a foundation for a dynamite team.
Criticize in private, praise in public
Never embarrass an employee in front of his colleagues. It affects morale for all employees, not just the one who’s made a mistake. Poor morale will effect the success of your project negatively.
One thing you can do in public is praise. Being quick to praise builds your team up, and makes them want to work for you, instead of needing to work for you.
Letting them know how they’re doing on the project regularly will help them feel secure in their job, and important to the task at hand. Helping your team members to own the project will make them take pride in their specific part.
Sprint to the finish line!
Make it happen. Make your dream come true. Ensure that your work succeeds against all odds. Below are a few tips to ensure a successful project outcome:
The Right Team. The people you choose can make or break your project. The number of people involved is also a deal breaking factor‑ 6-10 is ideal for many companies. You don’t want too many cooks in the kitchen for your project. This way, direct reporting is easy without losing touch with the objective of the project, details of the work involved, and ego issues and personal requirements of the organization and staff. The type of personalities involved are important as well.Make sure you hire people well suited for the task at hand, and assign duties accordingly.
Set milestones.Regular milestones help keep your project on track. Short term and long term milestones are important for the success of a project. You can also celebrate milestones achieved as a motivational activity for the team.
Responsibilities & Deadlines. Each team member’s role should include the full scope of the project and an exact timeline of when tasks need to be completed. Project milestones and benchmarks are wonderful for managing client expectations and keeping teams on track with deadlines. Be realistic about deadlines though, and take care not to ask too much of your team.
Don’t micromanage. Create a balance of communication and freedom among your team. Offer help if needed, but give them the space they need to complete the tasks you’ve given on their own. Hovering can create stress, and negatively impact the success of the project.
“Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.” - Sam Walton, Founder, Wal-Mart
Ultimately a successful project manager must possess a variety of technical and interpersonal skills—a Jack of all trades so to speak. You must be a psychologist to figure out the people working for you, an IT specialist to troubleshoot technical problems, and an organizational wizard. But, with all these skills in hand, your project is sure to achieve unending success.