Maintain contact with all stakeholders
Even those you believe to be on the periphery. Trying to cut corners by not informing the people you do not believe to be of immediate importance can be a fundamental error. Keeping people in the loop ensures they remain focused and motivated, acts as an audit trail and proves your accountability, as well as encouraging others to do the same.
Host a formal project ‘kick-off’
Each project will only have one beginning, and this is a rare opportunity to start on a positive note and motivate all parties involved. A project launch event is also the time to ensure that every staff member has a comprehensive understanding of what is expected, when, and exactly how it will be done.
Think carefully about delegation
Teamwork is integral to the success of a project. Therefore it’s incredibly important to think carefully about who will be working on the project, identifying the skills each team member possesses, and delegating tasks and responsibilities accordingly. Resist the urge to pass tasks to whoever’s there at the time – harnessing team members’ strengths will maximise efficiency.
Challenge the status quo
In the current climate, it’s no longer enough to turn up at nine, leave at five, and consider it a job done. Keep a finger on the pulse by looking out for new techniques, practices and technology to maximise productivity, and take every opportunity to deliver extra benefits that might set you apart from competitors. Consider joining a group of project managers, such as the UK’s PMI, to remain in the loop.
Rely solely on email to communicate
Email is increasingly becoming the favoured method of communication among project managers, and for short, simple messages or uploading information, it’s great. But there are times when it simply cannot be used to replace face-to-face conversations. Tone can easily be misinterpreted, and people say things they wouldn’t say in person when hiding behind their keyboard. Get to know when email is appropriate, and when nothing but in-person communication will do.
Underestimate the project by only looking at the positives
As tempting as it may be, try not to be overly optimistic about what can be achieved. It’s essential to always plan for a worst-case scenario, so ensure that damage control is in place by producing a risk management plan before the project goes ahead. Remember that not all issues can be foreseen, however, and making mistakes is central to learning.
Be afraid to ask for feedback
Especially if it’s your first project. Asking people for feedback can be uncomfortable, but can benefit even the most experienced project manager. Since so much of an individual’s aptitude to project management depends on their personality, it doesn’t have to be a co-worker – ask your friends and family, who will probably be more honest, too.
Try to please everyone
While it’s important to allow others to weigh in on major decisions, remember that ultimately, the project manager has been appointed for a reason. Even if it’s not the most popular choice, it’s unrealistic for any project manager – or anyone at all, for that matter – to expect everyone to agree.