As a project manager, your skills, talents and qualifications are essential to overall success. You might have the best team imaginable in place, but if you’re not up to the task, your project can still fail. While getting your PM certification from a respected company like PMI can be a very good start, that’s not all you’ll need to do. Here are some very important tips for anyone hoping to become a better project manager.
Driven by the Need to Know
As a project manager, you need to know why things are happening. You need to stay on top of everything. In order to do that, you need to be driven by the need to know. Without that drive, you might just accept everything at face value, and that’s a bad position to be in as a PM. You must “need” to drill down into the whys and wherefores of a situation, not merely be content that “it happened”. Be curious. Be driven to know.
Be Cautious in Assumptions
Assumptions are terrible things, but we’re all guilty of them. However, as a project manager, you really can’t afford to make too many assumptions. Be cautious when assuming. In fact, making an assumption should really be your final recourse when there’s nothing else possible. Your decisions should be based on hard data and relevant facts.
Boost Your Team’s Morale
Without a positive, happy team, you can’t succeed no matter how skilled or educated you might be. As the PM, it’s your responsibility to not only keep your team moving forward, but to keep morale high. You can do that pretty easily, but you’ll have to be aware of the need and take proactive steps to ensure that it happens. Just a little praise here and there among your team members can make a huge difference. Recognize contributions and effort, be willing to offer a pat on the back and appreciate the efforts that your team is putting in on the project. With high morale, your team stands a better chance of surviving the project as a cohesive whole.
Lead, Lead, Lead
Never forget that you’re the project manager. You’re the leader here. If you don’t lead, your team cannot follow. What does that actually mean, though? Simply put, you cannot afford to get bogged down in the minutia of project tasks that should be delegated to your team members. While there’s nothing wrong with pulling your own weight on a project, if your team comes to see you as just another coworker, your leadership will be compromised. That doesn’t mean you need to be unreachable, but you do need to maintain that sense of leadership and some separateness.
This is a pretty commonsense tip, but it bears mentioning. If you’re not particularly good at communicating with others, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Take a communications class, figure out where your efforts are breaking down and become a better communicator with everyone, including team members, stakeholders and managers.
Becoming a better project manager is simpler than you might think.