Project management is becoming an increasingly popular and important role for many businesses. This role helps manage teams and keep projects on track when there are too many balls juggling in the air.
As business processes become more complex for growing companies, an effective project manager is greatly needed to keep an eye on the organization’s smaller and specific moving parts.
More than just knowing workflows, project managers needs a handful of competencies and skill to lead a project to success.
Here’s how to grow as a project manager to excel in the role:
1. Think Strategy
Project managers must always have their strategies at the forefront of their minds. These strategies should be created based on business goals and implemented through every aspect of the team and projects.
There are proven effective project management methodologies such as waterfall, lean, and agile strategies. These approaches differ in principles and application, hence it is important to choose the right one for the project or task you are handling. It is also up to you as a project manager to effectively apply these methodologies in a way that will work for your team.
2. Develop Leadership Skills
Being a successful project manager requires a combination of management skills and strong leadership. Management and leadership are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are different things.
Simply put, management is when you keep things in order, while leadership is when you push them forward.
Develop your leadership skills so you can manage your team properly. While you may not be a certain team members’ direct report, you still need to have an authoritative presence over your team, so they take you seriously.
It is important to guide them through processes and tasks. As the leader, you should be innovative and should inspire the team to work together.
Reading leadership books or taking a leadership course can help improve your skills at managing and influencing others. Always start practicing leadership within yourself. Have your own self-improvement plan and make an effort to lead yourself towards your own goals.
Taking on new challenges like freelance jobs or part-time positions can push you to practice self-discipline and leadership. You can also find opportunities outside your current job that will allow you to manage different types of projects, tasks, or people.
3. Utilize Tools
Successful hands-on project management doesn’t mean you have to do everything manually. There are many digital tools available that can help you work smarter and can make the project easier for the team.
Using a platform for project management is a good idea as it makes tracking and monitoring your team much easier. Some platforms also offer automation that can save you time and improve the team’s productivity in some ways.
Lessening the repetitive and manual work can help team members focus on the important aspects of the project, plus it can even free up mind space which can give way to creativity and innovation.
Tools for file sharing and messaging or video conferencing are also best to foster collaboration, especially for remote teams.
Additionally, you can try building your own project management tech stack with all the tools the team needs based on the project process. This will give your team a more customized suite of functional tools that can be more effective than off-shelf solutions.
4. Communicate Effectively
Communication is key as a project manager. You don’t want to come off as too friendly, or your team won’t take you seriously. But you also don’t want to come off too strict and risk becoming unapproachable.
Find the balance between being a leader they can rely on and a manager that is in charge. Communicate in a professional yet friendly tone to get your message across.
Show your team that you care about their development and success. Provide constructive criticism and fair feedback. Recognize potential and openly give recommendations where needed.
Always have a line of communication open with your team. More than just on a person-to-person level, a project manager plays a critical role in fostering effective communication for the project itself. Listen to the team members and communicate their concerns within the team or to other leaders.
It is important to establish and maintain two-way communication between you and the team, so members will feel heard and acknowledge your thoughts and leadership. Be clear and concise when assigning tasks and setting goals for a project to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Additionally, do not disregard cultural and language barriers, most especially when working with a diverse team of professionals.
5. Constantly Adjust
A strategy and project management plan should always be evolving, the same as a business constantly evolves.
Therefore, as the project manager, you need to be flexible and adaptive to changes and new challenges. Your flexibility will reflect that of the team and can affect how members respond to adjustments, so be responsible.
It’s better to be ahead than behind. Have incremental checkpoints throughout a process that let you evaluate the current process and make adjustments.
Also, speak to your team about their feelings about processes and what changes they would like to see. This will help you gauge things and develop better strategies that will work for the project and the team.
Project management is a major responsibility that can be very challenging as it requires multiple competencies, including management, leadership, and people skills.
Being self-aware and striving for improvement for you and your team will help keep you learning and growing as a project manager.
Always seek smart ways to manage projects and open yourself to learning experiences to adapt to the ever-evolving challenges of project management.