By Russell Harley, veteran project manager and Director at PMO
There is a wide range of abilities in the Project Management field. However, there are always ways to become better in our profession. So here are a few suggestions that may help in this endeavor.
1. Be a Leader.
While this should be pretty obvious, it is very easy to get caught up in personalities and the normal socialization of the workplace. Especially if the project is a long-term one, or one that the team needs to work long hours together on. As a project manager, the important thing to remember is that your only goal is the completion of the project. It is not to be friends with everyone or have them all like you. Projects can easily get into trouble if things start sliding due to the project manager not wanting to hold people accountable. Of course, if you can get the project completed and everyone still loves everyone, then you may be canonized at some point.
2. Stop Multitasking.
This may be the hardest one to do effectively. It has been proven by numerous researchers that multitasking is bad for everyone. Yet we still try and do more than we really are capable. So how do you control this? In a word: Delegate. You have a team of subject matter experts (SMEs) plus others on your team. So ask them to help or assign tasks to them that they should be doing versus you. Yes it is easier for you to do it, but what is the point of having a team if you are doing most of the work?
3. Have Effective Meetings.
As project managers a lot of time is spent in leading meetings. To make sure the time spent in these meeting is used efficiently, a key tool, which is underused, is a Team Charter. This is a simple one-to two-page document that details the protocol of the meetings that everyone agrees to. Items in the Charter, are everyone agreeing to be on time, no cell phone usage, etc. Here is one suggestion on how to create one (there are many other examples online). Using something like this will not only help the existing team, but will also allow new people that join to know exactly what is expected rather than them having to guess on their own.
4. Be an Agent for Change.
Process and procedures are great for keeping everything running smoothly, especially on difficult projects. However, one thing the team should be doing is making sure that these are helping the project versus hurting it. If you or someone on your team can improve a process, then speak up and let it be known. Showcase how the change will make this project be done faster, cheaper, etc. The change that is proposed may actually impact multiple projects versus just yours (or even the entire company). However, if the change will only be a benefit to your team/project, be sure to explain that this is just an exception for this project and not a global one. If you can accomplish this, your team (and sponsors) will thank you.
An important thing that project managers sometimes forget is that the project(s) they are responsible for are not theirs. Project Managers normally do not ‘own’ projects, the sponsors do. Project Managers are only responsible (and most of the time that by itself is a huge task) for managing the project, not owning it. So if massive changes occur for the project, including canceling, it is not you it is them. So do not react or stress out as if this is something you or your team were doing wrong.
With the increasing need for Project Managers, we should all want to improve our skills and abilities as our projects become larger and more complex. Hopefully one of these suggestions will help you in becoming a better project Manager. If it does, then this article has done what it was intended to, help.
Russell Harley is a veteran project manager and PMO director, passionate about helping organizations embrace world-class project management practices and “climb out of the quicksand” in terms of gaining control over complex, ever-changing project portfolios. The best practices he advocates stem from key learning’s acquired from his M.S Degree in Project Management, combined with over 20 years of hands-on PM experience in the high technology, telecommunications, and clean energy sectors.