Project management is becoming an increasingly popular and important role for many companies. This role helps manage teams and keep projects on track when too many balls are juggling in the air.
As business processes become more complex for growing companies, an effective project manager is desperately needed to keep an eye on the smaller and specific moving parts of the organization.
Knowing more than just workflows, project managers need a handful of competencies and skills 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 should always have their strategies at the forefront. These strategies should be created based on business goals and implemented in every aspect of the team and the projects.
There are proven effective project management methodologies such as waterfall, lean and agile strategies. These approaches differ in principles and application, so it is important to choose the right one for the project or task you are undertaking. It is also up to you as a project manager to effectively apply these methodologies in a way that works for your team.
2. Develop leadership skills
Being a successful project manager requires a combination of managerial 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 that you can manage your team well. While you may not be the direct subordinate of a particular team member, you should still have an authoritative presence over your team so that they take you seriously.
It is important to guide them through processes and tasks. As a leader, you need to be innovative and inspire the team to work together.
Reading leadership books or taking a leadership course can help you improve your skills in managing and influencing others. Always start by practicing leadership within yourself. Have your own self-improvement plan and do your best to guide yourself towards your own goals.
Taking on new challenges, such as freelance jobs or part-time positions, can prompt you to practice self-discipline and leadership. You can also find opportunities outside of your current job that allow you to manage different types of projects, tasks, or people.
3. Use 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 make the project easier for the team.
Using a project management platform 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 team productivity in some ways.
Reducing repetitive and manual work can help team members focus on the important aspects of the project, and it can even free up mind space that can give way to creativity and innovation.
File and message sharing or video conferencing tools are also best for promoting collaboration, especially for remote teams.
Plus, you can try building your own project management tech stack with all the tools the team needs based on the project process. This gives your team a more tailored set of functional tools that can be more effective than out-of-the-box solutions.
4. Communicate Effectively
Communication is key as a project manager. You don’t want to appear too friendly or your team won’t take you seriously. But you also don’t want to appear too strict and run the risk of becoming unapproachable.
Find the balance between being a leader they can rely on and a manager 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 honest feedback. Recognize potential and openly make recommendations where appropriate.
Always keep a line of communication open with your team. More than just at the person-to-person level, a project manager plays a vital role in promoting effective communication for the project itself. Listen to team members and communicate their concerns within the team or to other leaders.
It’s important to establish and maintain two-way communication between you and the team so members feel heard and acknowledge your thoughts and leadership. Be clear and concise when assigning tasks and setting goals for a project to make sure everyone is on the same page.
In addition, don’t consider cultural and language barriers, especially when working with a diverse team of professionals.
5. Constantly adjusting
A strategy and project management plan should always be evolving, just as a business is constantly evolving.
That is why as a project manager you have to be flexible and adapt to changes and new challenges. Your flexibility will mirror that of the team and can affect how members respond to adjustments, so be accountable.
Better to be ahead than behind. Provide incremental checkpoints in a process that allow you to evaluate the current process and make adjustments.
Also talk to your team about their feelings about processes and what changes they would like to see. This will help you measure things and develop better strategies that 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.
By being self-aware and striving to improve for you and your team, you will continue to learn and grow as a project manager.
Always look for smart ways to manage projects and be open to learning experiences to adapt to the ever-changing challenges of project management.