Discover the keys to success when managing a project (and the path to failure)
Project managers are professionals who combine a series of skills and knowledge that make sure an objective becomes a reality, from start to finish. In personal or professional projects of any discipline, their work is essential, as they are in charge of keeping each gear in motion and pushing towards the goal.
They work with clients, creatives, strategists, brand representatives, and any other actor related to each project. Their activities range from establishing work flows and timescales, to solving failures, and inspiring entire work teams. Therefore, the profile of a project manager moves like a pendulum from precise and accurate work to improvisation and adaptation to any situation or change.
Here is a helpful list of dos and don'ts that will show you how to succeed or fail when managing a project:
Involve the teams in the decision-making:
It’s not a case of discussing absolutely every detail of the processes with each of the teams you are linked to, but of starting from a clear idea of what your implementation strategy is in order to receive ideas from others, so that they can complement and enrich them. In the case that some of the suggestions you receive do not fit your vision, try to explain and maintain a totally open communication that ensures others feel heard and that their opinion will not cease to be valuable on future occasions.
Rely on smart tools
Today, there is a huge variety of tools that allow the monitoring of the activities of each member of the teams you are working with, as well as measuring the progress of the project itself. Some of the most popular are Asana, Monday, Basecamp and Trello. Here you’ll find a collection of applications that will enable you to do this from your computer or smartphone.
Set realistic deadlines
There are no goals that cannot be achieved, only dates that cannot be met. One of the things that make whoever manages a project good or not, is that they have the necessary knowledge of the teams, markets, customers and processes, to establish deadlines for delivery of tasks that are totally viable and realistic. Failing at this point is one of the main sources of frustration among those working on any project.
Delegate, delegate, delegate
Knowing how to distribute functions is an essential part of a project manager's job. Assigning tasks does not mean that you are giving up your responsibilities because, in fact, your biggest commitment is to know how to put each task in the right hands.
When projects are long and complex, it is important that you know how to recognize progress. Each small victory will inspire the relevant teams, and keep their efficiency at its peak.
Avoid unnecessary meetings
Few things are as exhausting and affect the productivity of a team more as meetings that could have been an email. Be sure assess clearly when it is necessary to bring together the people involved in a process, and when it is not. If you conclude that you need a meeting, always try to have a clear agenda with the points to be discussed, and always try to solve concrete problems, communicate a message that needs to be transmitted face to face, or brainstorm.
Don't be a Human Resources detective
In the midst of a conflict, focus on solutions. While part of your job involves evaluating the performance of other team members, the truth is that the essence is to resolve and maintain progress on the project, so avoid getting bogged down in blame, guilt, and personal judgment. Make appropriate observations and notes, and the departments responsible for making decisions about the teams should take charge. Remember: your work is measured by results, so focus on getting them.
Your job is not to manage people
Your duty is to manage projects, not to manage every single person working on them. Avoid giving extra information to team members who don't need it just because you think that the details will help them to better contemplate the progress or obstacles of the project, because that is not the case. It could even cause distractions or unnecessary doubts that could affect the processes.
Don't run away from feedback
Allowing your team to give feedback on the processes you have established will not only help give them a sense of ownership and recognition of the value of their work, but will allow you to find blind spots, evaluate environments, promote trust, and improve your own strategies.
Never expect too much from an incomplete team
It’s very common, especially in new areas, that a team’s objectives are designed for an ideal team, not one that is in the process of being formed. This is one of the worst errors a manager can make and compromises the morale of the teams it affects.