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6 ways to be a better project manager

Sharon Florentine | June 6, 2016
Project management is a complex -- and critical -- function. Here are six pieces of advice to help project managers improve their craft.

Building your community

A project team runs on a solid foundation of trust, mutual respect and accountability, so it’s very important to make sure you’re fostering an environment where everyone on the team feels heard, their efforts are acknowledged and recognized, and their contributions valued.

Support of senior executives, customers, and buy-in from project teams is critical to the success of projects, says Paul Naybour, business development director at Parallel Project Training. “Projects are a very dynamic situation, and so support of all the key people in the organization is really important in keeping things moving. This is especially true when things go wrong,” he says.

And don’t save praise and recognition only for the times when things are going well -- it’s almost more important to boost morale through recognizing hard work and effort when things don’t go as planned. “This is probably the most important part which often gets overlooked. Many people feel they have thankless jobs, and compliments can make a person feel really good. Go out of your way and thank them. Leave a positive review on their LinkedIn profile. Tell their boss what a great job they did,” says Thomas Wooldridge, IT project manager at Relamark.com.

Framework, workflow and project schedule

One of the most important things a project manager can do is to remove obstacles for their teams. That can help maintain projects within the agreed-upon framework, make the workflow more efficient and keep everything on schedule.

“Assign work so it is completed in the most efficient order possible; ensure work that is a predecessor to other work is fully completed before starting another piece, and remove the obstacles that prevent team members from getting their work done,” says Ben Snyder, CEO, Systemation.

You also should build in extra time around every deadline within the project, to make sure there’s plenty of time to resolve the inevitable unexpected problems that will arise. “Look over the project plan each week and identify the gaps in your project. Pay attention to scope, time, cost and where you should be, and how that lines up with your deadlines and project objectives. Once you identify the gaps, take the necessary actions to close them. Don’t let weeks or months go by where you do not deal with your gaps, or they may get too big to overcome,” Snyder says.

Leadership and Collaboration

Leadership is about pitching in and helping your project teams overcome obstacles, build on and use their strengths, and motivate them to persevere when the going gets tough, not just allocating resources and mindlessly adhering to standards -- though, of course, those are important.

 

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