Wednesday, October 9, 2013

How to Be a Better Project Manager When You Aren’t One

The massive amount of young people who have grown up using social tools to engage with each other will soon take up the majority of the future workforce – causing a huge demographic shift. As a result, a new collaborative workplace is emerging - transforming the way work is done.  The future workforce will likely be project managers without even knowing it. According to Jacob Morgan, co-founder of Chess Media Group and contributor, here are seven ways the non-professional project manager can become a better manager of projects.

Be Mr. or Ms. Fix It. If you see something that’s broken, take the initiative to fix it.  Develop a plan to solve your team’s most pressing problems and gather influential people and resources around you to make things happen. 

Understand the Project. The best PMs have a handle on why they are doing a project, who they are doing it for, the requirements and the timeline.  They push back if senior leadership establishes a deadline that is unrealistic and doesn’t allow for the inevitable delays, and before proceeding, they make sure that everyone involved is on the same page regarding budget and metrics.

Be Organized. Collaboration software was developed for the purpose of keeping your team’s responsibilities and work easy to follow, but the software won’t do the whole job.  Use its features to communicate action items, keep track of the details and status of each task, and establish relationships between project aspects.

Don’t Let Them Coast. Set expectations ahead of project start and hold your team members accountable for specific deliverables and outcomes.  Think about each person’s development areas and devise ways to challenge them. Your team will be more productive if members are stretched and able to actively contribute to individual and team goals.

Be Assertive. The moment you become aware of a critical issue is the moment you should address it.  Before things get out of hand, speak with all of the parties involved and encourage a direct conversation.  Also, think about the best way to approach each team member to get the information you need and go that route. 

Macromanage.  Effective project managers understand that a team cannot be productive unless each member has the ability to work autonomously.  Once you set the course, give your people the freedom to make decisions in their area of responsibility.

Have Their Back. Facilitate an environment of open communication and let your people know that your door is always open. Setbacks are inevitable, but don’t play the blame game and take responsibility for your own role as a team leader.  Support your team when going head-to-head with others so that they will trust and respect you.
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