The role of a Project Manager comprises of balancing a project's schedule, budget and overall scope to meet its objectives. Project managers have to oversee the individual tasks right from beginning till the end of the project, so the ultimate success or failure depends mainly upon the project manager's competency.
People think differently on these factors. However there would be a general consensus that the usage of Project Management tools, best practices and enterprise environmental factors would ensure success of a Project to a certain degree. But often the value of a Project Manager is realized by the little ‘Extra’ skills demonstrated towards accomplishing the Project objectives.
Be an effective Communicator across all levels:
The ability to communicate comfortably with people at all levels about the project is almost always listed as one of the most important skills by project managers. It is important to tailor the message to the audience to ensure the right level of communication. Each person must be engaged differently. One may need details while another might prefer a brief overview.
Understand and Manage Stakeholders:
It is imperative to communicate with your stakeholders during the early stages of the project. This not only builds trust, but you may also gain valuable insights about how you can increase the likelihood of success of your project.
Stakeholders at different levels are interested in different aspects of the Project status. Mapping these expectations and categorizing them based on their influence and interest would help in planning communications, such that the right information is passed to the relevant stakeholders. It becomes imperative for Project Managers to keep abreast of all updates to the project and let the stakeholders know of potential issues as early as possible so as to minimize the impact.
Ensure Team involvement:
Naturally, involving the team in most aspects of the project goes a long way in ensuring proper information flow. Also, delegation not only provides opportunities for team members to refine their skills, but also indicates trust vested in them to get the job done.
Down the road it aids in getting to know the team, on their strengths, improvement areas and so on. Identifying the difficulties that team members experience by understanding what they need to do helps them to work as a team. Getting people to collaborate becomes easier; once the rapport and trust is built as the team it is easy to achieve the Project’s objectives.
Keep updating skills:
Make sure to be in touch with other Project Teams across companies. Read books, take courses, and utilize the web for blogs, articles, and whitepapers to ensure that something new is learnt each day to apply on the job. Before you know it, this process of continuous improvement will soon accumulate and the skills you were previously lacking will become second nature.
Additionally, paying attention to other critical skills like, conflict resolution, negotiation, decision-making etc. helps do the job more effectively. Skills such as these are necessary when cross functional & organizational boundaries have to be passed to obtain support or get decisions formed and implemented.
Regulate team meetings:
Status meetings have traditionally known to be dull, full of discussions and never ending. Meetings when effectively conducted, can distribute information, solicit feedback, set time lines, line up resources, and update all the stakeholders in just a few minutes, something that would take days to accomplish via an email or one-on-one.
For a meeting to be effective, always make sure that an agenda is set and informed to all the participants, stay on track with this agenda and control the flow of discussions, follow-up after the meeting with the minutes and action points.
Rely on Documentation:
Status reports and calls can be invaluable, while keeping track of next steps, project highlights and risks. It is a great way to highlight the criticality required and making the team aware of when they need to take action.
A ‘Good’ Project Manager will need to document everything – Internal and external meetings, status calls, even sideline comments. Keeping a “to-do” list wherever you want can help you identify top priorities, eliminate timewasters, and get rid of futile processes.
Capture Best practices:
A great way to ensure best practices are captured is to commit your thoughts to paper and share it with others. This can happen throughout the project lifecycle and need not wait until the Project closure stage, although that is a good time for recognition of best practices and lessons learned to be leveraged across the organization.
Find a way to keep track of best practices for each project that works for you, whether it is on a computer, or on a documentation system. This is a powerful way to ensure your hard work doesn’t go unnoticed, while creating a permanent record that anyone can reference in the future.