How do you start your Project Manager Journey?
First 2-3 months – Be friendly and humble and don’t be afraid to ask tons of questions. Learn the processes and people and mostly because these things are not like technical documents. Things like people’s job descriptions and responsibilities are almost always non standardized and not well documented, which you need to know to figure out who to ask when there are things you don’t know.
Next 3-6 months – Over the next 3 months you would have some understanding of the company culture. If not, start digging into this more. Take cues from your team and leadership. This is important to succeed. Also start with understanding the projects you are involved with. This is the timeframe where you are learning, doing, failing, going again and getting a bit smarter.
Next 6 months – This is when you would become effective in your role. By this time, you should have clear project execution goals. You should jump in the deep end head first and start producing results.
There will be variations based on how well you are onboarded, available resources/examples, established policies/teams (or lack thereof), industry knowledge, etc.
How do you succeed as a Project Manager?
As a successful project manager, you need a set of project management skills which consists of personality traits, soft skills, people skills and technical skills.
Here are some tips to help you on your way to success:
Understand the decision-making process. As the project manager, it is your responsibility to ensure that all decisions are made in a responsible manner. This includes understanding the various factors that must be considered when making a decision, as well as assessing potential consequences of each option. Remember that indecision is the worst decision.
Manage expectations realistically. It is important to set realistic goals for your team and yourself, and be willing to adjust them as needed. Do not overpromise or underdeliver, as this will only lead to frustration and disappointment on both sides of the equation. Empower your good teams to work on their own. If needed, micromanage the bad ones to start until you can trust them on their own.
Be organized and efficient. A well-organized project manager will be able to keep track of all deadlines and tasks, while being efficient in their execution. This will ensure that everyone involved with the project is kept on schedule and that resources are not wasted due to unnecessary complicating factors. Project management tools should facilitate communication, task management, planning and forecasting for projects. Focus on fixing bottlenecks and areas where there’s a lot of dependencies.
Stay up-to-date on industry trends. As the project manager, it is essential that you stay current on industry trends so that you can better manage your team and make sound decisions based on current information. Always be looking for ways to improve your skills or do something new on the job. This will help you to stay ahead of the curve and keep your team happy.
Effective communication with team members and stakeholders. The project manager’s responsibility is to provide clear and concise information to all involved with the project, both during planning stages and during execution phase(s). If possible, try to keep communication lines open even after the project has been completed in order to resolve any issues or concerns that may have arisen along the way. It is also important to make sure that all parties are fully aware of progress reports and any changes that may impact their work. Active listening is the key to success here.
Facilitate prioritization. Once the project is set up, milestones identified, and a backlog is created, a key responsibility for the project manager is to support the development team in organizing their workload. This can be done by facilitating the prioritization of tasks and making sure that all major project goals are addressed.
Find a mentor. You should find a mentor that you can lean on, someone who truly cares about helping people. It doesn’t have to be in your business. Someone that you can bend their ear once a week and ask for guidance. Set-up 1:1 with key stakeholders, start figuring out who has a mentorship spirit and learn from them. Ask for feedback from the stakeholders you begin to grow close with.
Motivate the team. One of the most important aspects of an effective project manager is motivating their project teams. This can be done by setting expectations, creating a positive work environment, and providing regular feedback. Great PMs regularly check in and check on teams to make sure they’re working at a sustainable pace and know how to keep teams and individual members motivated.
March towards the management of the triple constraint. This is explained in terms of scope, schedule and budget and striking the right balance across the three:
Scope = requirements, design, function
Schedule = ensure tasks duration as well as required effort. Ensure the right people are doing the right job (resource management)
Budget = how much was allocated at launch, how much is still needed after planning, how much will it cost when completed.
If you want to be an expert in something, you need to practice it. But if you practice it enough, you’ll stand out from your peers in a big, big way. Along the way, learn about human behavior and develop your emotional IQ muscles. This will enable you to read people and connect with them personally.
As a project manager, you’re responsible not only for the project success, but you also need leadership skills to guide and inspire teams to achieve their goals. A career in Project management can be very rewarding but it takes time, effort, and practice to become successful. Be sure to read and follow the tips outlined in this article in order to help you on your path to becoming a successful project manager.