Why do some project managers always seem to bring their projects in on time, on budget and with satisfied customers and others?
Becoming an effective project manager is difficult. Yes, there are courses on project management and companies that provide leadership training. But that doesn’t cover all the challenges effective project managers face. It lays a good foundation to start from, but there’s more to it than that. Also, it’s habits that define how we really are. So, here is a list of habits that define highly effective project managers from our experience.
Using the Right Team
Highly effective project managers know that, in order to do their best work, people need some degree of control over it. It also makes them feel more motivated and be more engaged at work. New research into the science of motivation has proved this as well. According to Daniel Pink, author of Drive, in order to be motivated, people need autonomy, a sense of purpose and a sense of being part of something bigger than yourself. While the second and the third item are harder to provide, autonomy is not. It’s within each project manager’s reach to allow team members to decide how they perform their tasks. Also, effective project managers know how to strike a balance between team and individual needs so things don’t go out of hand.
Managing Project Issues
All projects hit issues from time to time. Successful project managers don’t let it worry them. They know the processes for issue management and also how best to deal with problems as they arise. You can do that too. Once you know how to assess a project issue, you’ll find that issue management becomes an easy habit to incorporate into your weekly routine.
Coping With Changes
Projects are designed to change things, but that kind of change is happening to other people! It’s harder to manage change that is aimed squarely at the project team, upsetting the detailed project schedule and creating new work and a whole pile of documentation updates. Successful project managers know that coping with changes is part of the job and they have a plan to deal with them as and when they arise.
Managing Project Costs
Managers should understand what materials, equipment, people and processes cost. This doesn’t mean that they have to always know exactly what everything costs, but they should at least understand the various cost components of an activity. Working for a time in the estimating department provides valuable experience and insights into the cost makeup of the various tasks on a project. Understanding value and costs provides an essential component for deciding methods and materials and for improving productivity.
The project team most likely won’t work for you so why is teambuilding part of the habits of successful project managers? It’s because you need them to work effectively together and you need the individuals involved in the project to quickly come to a point where they trust each other. You get that through building the team.
The most successful project managers are not a slave to process. They know when the right thing to do is to follow the process. They know when it’s better to tweak it slightly to make the tasks overall easier for everyone. An example of that would be to remove the bureaucracy from a small project by tailoring the processes accordingly.
Manage their time
Managers are being bombarded by multiple problems and people all the time. If they aren’t careful they can be swamped and important issues may be forgotten or left until it’s too late. Managing time is about being organized, ensuring that everything is filed correctly where it’s easily accessible. It’s also about ensuring that important issues are prioritized and tasks aren’t forgotten.
Updating The Schedule
Project schedules shouldn’t be left to chance, and the most successful project managers will make it a habit to regularly check their schedules for accuracy and update them. There are lots of ways to track your project’s progress, but the most important thing is that you do it! If you are struggling to make this habit your own, then book a short meeting in your diary with yourself and your schedule once a week. Use the same time each week and take 30 minutes to review where you are and where you need to be. Make the necessary amendments, tell the team and carry on with the project.
Managing Project Risk
Knowing what to include in your risk register is one thing, but habitually reviewing it and acting on the risks raised is something different. It’s not enough to use the beginning of your project to identify risks and then not think about them again. Risk management needs to be part of your project habits because without it you’ll find that risks turn into issues and create problems for you. It is another area where standard processes and booking a regular slot to do a risk review can help. You can include it as part of your team meetings. Make it a habit to review your risks with the team, close any that are no longer a threat and plan actions for those that you want to mitigate.
Delivering Business Change
The habit that makes project managers most successful is their ability to equate project outputs to business results, but if the users don’t use your product or the software quickly falls out of date or customers aren’t as amazed as you are then your project has been a waste of time. The most successful project teams make sure that they know what business results they are aiming for. They build a solution that delivers that business change in a sustainable fashion. What they deliver when the project ends is fully used and totally adopted by the customer. It’s a success because it has been built to be a success from the start, Understanding business objectives is a key criteria for any project manager who wants to make an impact on customers and stakeholders. If you can show that you have delivered something of value, then it’s easy to demonstrate the impact you have and value that you bring to the company.
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