Saturday, June 11, 2016

5 Must Know Tips To Be A Better Project Manager

In today’s world, the role of a project manager is much more than simply overseeing the occasional project. Between defining and communicating project objectives to your team, procuring the information and materials to complete the project, assigning tasks, and managing the constraints of the project, there is very little (if any) of the job that the project manager is not responsible for.

If you’re starting out in project management or want to improve your skills, here are 5 tips to help you fine-tune your skills to be the best project manager possible.

1. Streamline Communication

You’ve heard the saying before: communication is key. This couldn’t be more true in the role of project manager. Quite often people need to hear what you’re saying several times before it becomes engrained in their brains. Instead of repeating yourself over and over again, say the same message in a variety of different formats. Email, meetings, text, note reminders: these are all ways to convey your message in different ways without seeming repetitive.

2. Be A Meeting Master

With an estimated $35 billion wasted on meetings every year, your ability to communicate in an effective, efficient manner is a huge plus. Consider the following tips when planning the meeting schedule for the duration of your project:
  • Minimize the number of meetings you hold. Determine if the content or information could instead be communicated over email or a quick conference call.
  • Decrease the length of your meetings. When a group meeting is necessary, keep it short and sweet. Review your topics of interest prior to the meeting and do your best to stick to them. Allow a quick session for questions at the end and break. Consider the benefits of break-out group meetings following large group meetings to allow individual departments to get on the same page and discuss important topics that may not affect others.
  • Track your progress. Use the right tools and prepare a fitting time-sensitive agenda that will keep your meeting on track and moving forward.
  • Set a time limit. Remember that the average human attention span is only about 20 minutes, meaning that you should allot no more than 30 per meeting. Furthermore, the larger your group, the likelihood of your meeting being effective and informative decreases. Again, consider breaking into smaller groups after a few minutes of meeting with everyone on the project.

3. Don’t Just Hear - Listen

It’s human nature to think about what your response to someone will be before they even have a chance to finish what they are saying. This can be a damaging quality in project managers. Whether you’re listening to a stakeholder, project owner, or teammate, be mindful to listen to what they’re saying before you decide how to respond. Remember, listening comes in several levels.

The most effective for project managers are from places of empathy, genuineness, and mindful presence. Take cues of the speaker's body language - this will help you gain a deeper understanding of what he or she is expressing and will allow you to effectively listen on several different levels. Also, repeat back what they said (paraphrased) to verify you understood what they wanted and you both are on the same page.

4. Encourage Others To Take Lead

In a position of leadership, you’re inevitably going to hear about issues or problems that have relatively nothing to do with you. Instead of overwhelming yourself by trying to find solutions to every problem, empower others to fix the issues themselves. By encouraging others to take initiative, they’ll understand that you not only trust their judgement, but that they’re capable of making good judgments that contribute to the overall success of the project.

5. Accept Constructive Criticism

Perhaps one of the most important things you can do to improve as a project manager is to learn to be self aware and welcome constructive criticism without becoming offended. You make a lot of decisions and not all of them will sit well with everyone involved in the project. The more you learn to welcome and accept constructive criticism, you’ll avoid becoming set in your ways and find yourself improving as a leader. Chances are you’ll also work on building different attributes that help you become more well rounded as a project manager.

Want some more tips on becoming a better project manager? Check out this article, How To Be A Better Project Manager: 81 Tips From PM Experts.

About the author: Brooke Cade is a freelance writer with Workfront. When she is not writing, Brooke is committed to learning more about helping businesses and marketing professionals succeed with their project management goals.

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