Successful project management is all about communication and setting realistic goals. Here we share a few secrets and tips on how to become a successful project manager.
Project management is a demanding job. And statistics appear to show unfavorable odds of success for many of these managers.
KPMG reported that 70% of organizations underwent at least one project collapse in the past 12 months. Furthermore, half of those surveyed said their project ultimately failed to meet expectations. And without going into all the reasons that projects fail, it’s clear that PMs have some challenges ahead of them.
The good news is, in the face of these seemingly overwhelming odds, success is possible. No project manager performs individually. However, a project will only ever be as successful as the team behind it.
So, if you need help keeping your team focused and on schedule, you’ve come to the right place. We offer some practical advice from PMs and some tips on becoming a successful project manager yourself.
What Does a Project Manager Do?
Project managers are responsible for bringing projects to completion. This includes all the planning and strategizing period before projects even begin. As well as managing and completing the project’s tasks and subtasks. And this is on top of organizing all the human and non-human resources necessary to carry out the project.
Often, a project manager is seen as a team leader. As such, they are seen as the person responsible for the success of various company ventures. On the flip side of this, they are also responsible for the failures of company ventures. And commonly need to walk the line between the two, while also making the tough decisions.
Read on: Full or perks and paths for advancement, more and more women are choosing project management for their careers. That doesn’t mean that their aren’t some unique challenges that female project managers face on a daily basis. We interviewed several leaders in the field and they offered a few tips for other women PMs who are just breaking into the field.
How to Measure Project Management Success?
Success can be measured in a number of ways. Yet, defining it is the first step in figuring out the kind of project manager you’ll be. Here’s a few metrics for success chosen by PMs themselves:
- Completing projects within their timelines.
- Completing projects within their budgets.
- Reducing overtime for their team.
- Overall team satisfaction.
- Carrying out projects according to company strategy.
- Quality of the work.
- Customer and stakeholder satisfaction.
Some of these project KPIs may actually compete with one another. As such, this can add an extra dimension of difficulty to the work of a project manager. However, the best PMs usually have a few secrets up their sleeves that can help them deal with all of these scenarios. Read on to find out what these are.
Tips to Becoming a Successful Project Manager
The one tip everyone, and I mean EVERYONE recommends.
Communication is one of the most valuable skills for a project manager. From beginning to end, a manager must convey project goals, timelines, expectations, and risk assessment, just to name a few. And it’s not just communication with one person or group. You’ll be communicating with your project team, management, and clients. Each party needs different but equally important information in varying formats.
All interactions require you to be proficient at both written and oral communication. As such, it might prove helpful to develop and improve effective communication as a skill. The American Management Association urges managers to practice objective self-analysis. Doing this can help your team and future projects benefit with a few simple adjustments.
How to be a better communicator:
One way to communicate better is to curate the information you share.
Project planning tools are often a big help in spreading the word to large groups. But there’s little reason why your data analysts in Chicago need to know what your product marketing team is up to in Singapore. Even if the end result is the same. Too much info can be overkill. And can prevent your different teams from quickly finding the info they need to carry out their tasks.
In Ganttic, you can create special custom “Views” of your projects. Filter out just the data you need and easily share with a simple URL. These Views can even be shared to people outside your organization. Perfect if you need to give a quick rundown of project progress to a client or another stakeholder.
Read more about creating a custom “View” in Ganttic.
Lead By Example
A team is only as good as its leader. Managing a project will undoubtedly put your leadership skills to the test. You must lead by example. If you want your team to go the extra mile, you must be willing to go even further. Hold yourself to the same standards as you hold the entire group. When you establish yourself as a respected leader, the undertaking will gain more traction.
As a manager, you give the final say on many things. But that doesn’t mean you neglect the valuable input of those around you. Listen to your team, and let them experiment with new ideas when appropriate. Also, listen when they disagree or express concerns about issues or decisions. The team will never function at its peak unless you actively consider other perspectives. Listening to your team can often uncover great ideas or help you avoid massive failures you didn’t recognize at first.
How to be a better leader:
Transparency is a great way to lead by example. However, accepting feedback and actually showing that you implement it can be hard to demonstrate to a team.
In Ganttic, users can add notes to various projects, tasks, or resources. Take these comments as feedback. Maybe some of the team doesn’t think there’s enough resource capacity on a project. Or that a certain deadline can’t be meant. Notes are an easy way to organize feedback. And if changes do need to be made, managers can quickly reallocate some helping hands. Or extend deadlines in the same app.
Everyone who has access to the planner can see the changes. As well as how the feedback was implemented. Win win!
Read on: Find out if you’re a true leader. Take our leadership quiz to see.
Know Your Team
A successful project manager must know each member working on the project, whether a team is hand-selected, newly hired, or already assembled. If you’re able to head up or be involved in the hiring process, focus on the golden qualities of an applicant during the job interview. A candidate that exudes enthusiasm, technical interest, and confidence is likely to be a valuable addition. These qualities also help establish a harmonious team environment.
Another option is conducting some relationship and trust-building exercises early on in the project planning stage. This practice strengthens connections among members and helps you better understand the dynamics of the group. Any time or effort invested into the foundation of the team is well spent. Indeed.com also recommends assessing the strengths and weaknesses of members, wisely delegating duties, and enthusiastically motivating progress from start to finish.
How to motivate your team:
An easy way to engage and motivate your team is by smarter scheduling.
Creating plans based on skills is the ideal way to ensure that your employees don’t get bored or even overwhelmed. Think about it. If Jules is a full-stack developer, she will probably get burnt out when she’s continuously tasked to the same monotonous job. Likewise, if Martin, who has limited experience with content writing, is forced to write blog posts on a weekly basis, you can bet the team (and your marketing goals) will suffer.
In Ganttic, you can add custom data fields to your projects, resources, and tasks. That way can you indicate who is specialized in what area. Or what kind of skill is needed to carry out a certain task. And you’ll always be able to match the right resource to the right task.
Embody the Mission
It’s not enough to merely assign tasks and a general schedule. For your team to work at peak efficiency, you need to present the project’s mission with clarity. The core assignment should never be far from anyone’s mind for the duration of the project. A guiding mission will keep the project on track when unexpected setbacks threaten its success.
Look for opportunities to reinforce the project’s mission and outcome. Once the assignment is evident, don’t abandon the steering force behind it. As a manager, it’s up to you to keep the team on track. If everyone understands the project’s importance, they’ll be more likely to persist and stay committed until the end. Your ability to embody the mission will help you finish and finish well.
How to communicate goals:
Scheduling with a Gantt chart is a great way to showcase a project’s goal and outcome.
These clear, visual charts show all the related resources, tasks, and deadlines. But in a simple way. They can even be combined with other project management methodologies such as a Gantt Kanban hybrid.
Using them as your project management tool, your team will know what exactly the expected outcome. And will no longer feel like their work is a bunch of disconnected tasks. they’ll see what they are actually working towards.
Set Clear, Realistic Goals
Clearly define and communicate the goals you set for your team. All expectations should be measurable and realistic, and the path to completion should be straightforward. Vaguely defined plans end up vaguely met, which spells disaster for your project. Set realistic goals and realistic timetables for meeting them. This means not pushing your team too hard for too long. Practical planning ensures everyone stays on task and track for success.
How to set realistic goals:
Find time to check in with your team often. Take time to bring up critical benchmarks along the way so everyone is on the same page. Don’t assume that just because you’ve said it or written it once or twice that it’s always remembered. Members will appreciate the meaningful cues.
Also indicate milestones along the way. And take the time to celebrate these “little wins.” It can really help keep up morale.
Develop a Risk Management Strategy
At the project’s start, you should take the time to think about all of the things that could go wrong. Part of planning for success is anticipating obstacles. Create a plan for navigating any expected or possible challenges. Also, consider how each could alter the overall schedule. Throughout the process, stay aware of risks, and consult with your team about solutions. Challenges don’t have to derail or doom the entire project.
Part of accurately managing risks is knowing when you need to consult with someone outside of your team. Bringing in outside experts can offer a more objective and detached assessment of projects. Often with some clever planning metrics you can readily implement.
Of course the difficulty in outside help is ensuring they have access to all the information that your team has. And a big reason why project management software that requires additional license fees isn’t always the optimal approach.
How to develop a risk management strategy:
Building a strategy is not a “one and done” type process. In fact, a crucial step in strategizing is reevaluation. And reassessing how effective the process has been up to that point.
Much of knowing when to reevaluate comes with practice and time. It’s not exactly a project management skill you learn in school, but as time goes on, you’ll learn to recognize when it’s needed. For a little extra help you can check our infographic on building a strategic planning process.
It’s no stretch that effective project management requires one to be skilled in a broad array of areas. If you’re in this position and are looking for ways to increase your project’s success, these practices are crucial. Focus on clear communication, team outcomes, and project mission. Lead by example, know your team, and expect the unexpected.
At the end of the day, if you support your team, they’ll support you. This teamwork ensures your project is likely on its way to being a success.
But you also don’t have to do it alone. Project management software such as Ganttic is used by thousands of successful PMs around the world. And is the tool of choice for managers in industries such as design, engineering, science, and manufacturing.
Book a free, personalized demo to learn more. Or check out some of these great features.