As a project manager, you are the one others turn to for day-to-day decision-making, direction and issue resolution. It is important that you set a good example and seek to be the best you can every single day. The 7 areas below will help you achieve that.
Focus on customer needs
The single biggest success factor for a project is whether it delivers what the customers really need. Not only will that create a happy customer, it will also dramatically increase your success as a project manager. The tricky part is that customer needs aren’t necessarily synonymous with what the customers say they want. Outstanding project managers focus on the customer’s real needs and seek to uncover the reasons behind the requirements. They do that through enquiry and by consistently learning about the client’s business.
Keep your promises
As a project manager is it absolutely essential that what you say and do is credible and that your clients and stakeholders trust you. When you take on an action or commit to a deadline – however big or small – always deliver it when you said you would. This is also true when it comes to chasing other people for the actions they take on. You will gain an enormous amount of respect for being effective, timely and reliable and it will be easier for you to plan and execute the project with minimal resistance. Set a good example in everything that you do.
They key to success for any manager and leader is to be proactive and consistently focus your efforts and attention on the long-term as opposed to being reactive in the present moment. Too often we get caught up in urgent or unimportant activities and we procrastinate on the big important things such as planning and initiating the project properly, writing the business case, learning about our client’s business or taking the time to build strong relationships with our customers and team members. Don’t sit back and wait for things to happen. Take the initiative as a matter of course.
Support your team
Your team is the project’s biggest asset so nurture it and enable each individual team member to thrive. Allow for people’s individuality, play to their strengths and give them the support they need to succeed. To build a great team, spend one-on-one time with people on a weekly basis. Ask them what you can do to help, what they worry about and how you can assist them in working more effectively. Never be afraid to ask questions and to lend a helping hand. One of your most important roles is to remove blockages so that your team can get on with its work.
If you are to add maximum value, you must learn to delegate. This will help you create space to concentrate on the big picture and on the strategic aspects of the project. Tracking timesheets, taking minutes and planning detailed work-streams are important aspects of a project, but it’s not important that you do them. Get a project administrator on board or train your senior team leads to take on a more senior role. Not only do you develop their skill set, you also free yourself up to focus on customer relationships, communication, team building and setting the vision.
Challenge the status quo
It is no longer enough to turn up for work and deliver a project the way we used to. The global crisis has meant that everything is being scrutinized and that executives are constantly on the look-out for how we can deliver change in a better, cheaper and faster way. You need to challenge the status quo on a daily basis and help identify how the team can work smarter, what new technologies you can employ, which extra benefits you can deliver and how project processes can be improved.
Stay calm under pressure
As a project manager you are under daily pressure to deliver, make decisions and sort out issues. You need set a great example by managing your state of mind and remaining calm when the pressure is on. Maintain a balanced perspective and think of solutions rather than placing blame or making knee-jerk decisions. In situations of conflict, take on the role of a mediator and convey both sides of the argument. Whatever you do, do it well; as the way you conduct yourself is the most you can ever expect from your team.
How good are you at doing each of these activities on a daily basis?
What is the biggest action you take away from this?
Susanne Madsen is a project & program manager, mentor & coach, and author of The Project Management Coaching Workbook. She has over 15 years experience in managing and rolling out large change programs. You can read more from Susanne on her blog.