For project management professionals, the art of people management is essential to performing the job well. However, people are notoriously more difficult to manage than processes, products or budgets. So what are the key skills and tools you need to become effective within the role? We take a look at some top tips that will help you get the best performance from your workforce.
Delegation is key when it comes to being both an effective people manager and a project manager. No single individual can do everything on his own. Use project management software to bring the team together, assign tasks and activities and track progress, milestones, costs, risks and other notes. Project management apps allow the workspace and team tools to be accessed on the go, and good project management software from organisations such as MilestoneUK and MilestoneSA can help you to deliver on time and to budget. You will always know where everything is up to, who is doing what, and where any risks need mitigating actions. This enables you to update stakeholders and project sponsors in a timely fashion and will build your reputation as a ‘safe pair of hands’.
Dealing with Challenges
Project management is fraught with unexpected challenges and instances where you need to think on your feet and have robust contingency plans and processes in place. A good project manager will know which processes to follow when things go wrong, and who to delegate activities to within the team. The project manager will know which scheduled tasks should be paused in order to tackle the unforeseen challenge and have a structured way of reviewing the challenge by assessing options — bringing in informed opinions from relevant parties as necessary — and choosing the appropriate mitigating solution, or escalating the decision to a senior stakeholder as necessary. Judgement, a calm manner, analytical capabilities plus great communication and delegation are vital to success in such instances.
Both project and people management rely on excellent communication. The manager will need to communicate regularly, clearly and transparently with a range of stakeholders. They will need to provide progress reports on the project in a way that suits the customer and provide a range of metrics and figures according to project sponsor needs. Additionally, they will need to communicate with team members to ensure that they are working correctly, feel motivated and appreciated and are on board and engaged within their role. A motivated and happy team will deliver a high-quality outcome.
Communication is also increasingly required across international boundaries, as companies work in multicultural teams with offices overseas. Communicating with workers and project roles within other countries brings a whole new set of challenges, as communication will differ in more than just words — cultural norms, expectations, body language and other factors come into play. Some managers will choose to improve their skills in this field, and become highly in demand as international project managers, by taking training courses in cross-cultural communication and working practices in overseas contexts accordingly.
A project manager must be highly organised as a very basic and fundamental part of the role. Whether or not he uses old-fashioned project methods or online and collaborative project software, robust techniques for tracking, assigning, assessing and organising tasks and responsibilities are essential. Many managers will undergo formal Prince training or other recognised quality system methodologies to ensure that they are following best practices. Such an accreditation can be well worth investing in, particularly if the project spans different organisations, working structures or hierarchies.
A good PM will increasingly use the right technology for the job too, such as online project software with digital apps for on-the-go access and updating. These tools allow remote teams to collaborate and work together seamlessly without communication gaps or delays. Online collaborative working is also facilitated, and progress can be reported easily.