Want to make sure your projects run as smoothly as possible? Excellent communication, a solid understanding of expectations, and good deadline management are the goals for aspiring, novice, and experienced project managers alike.
The Corporate Education Group, originally founded at Boston University as the Boston University Corporate Education Center, offers 16 guidelines for projects managers to follow. We cover the first eight here, and the second eight in a “Part 2” blog, coming soon.
1. Learn to Communicate at Every Level
The ability to communicate comfortably with people at all levels of the organization about the project is one of the skills most desired by project managers and project stakeholders. Depending on his or her role, each person will need to be engaged differently. One team member may want details about specific products while another wants only a brief overview of the project timeline. If a customer seems to want to discuss her daughter’s graduation before discussing business, pay attention and ask later how her daughter is enjoying being done with school. Simple communication tricks can make a big impact.
2. Improve Public Speaking Skills
You may be more than capable of coordinating project details and timelines, but presenting that information to stakeholders in an understandable, engaging format requires completely different abilities. Effective presentation skills can help you gain the positive engagement of everyone impacted by the project. Good presenters have had lots of practice, and they’ve been trained to present well, so spend time practicing and getting feedback on your public speaking skills.
3. Use Templates for Documentation
Templates can free you from reinventing the wheel, and will save time as you use them. But don’t let templates take over your processes or halt creativity. Treat projects as a roadmap; if you find something that needs to change or be done differently, change your process.
4. Manage Stakeholders
It’s imperative to communicate with stakeholders early and often. This not only builds trust, but offers valuable insight on increasing the likelihood of project success. Be flexible about communication methods. Ask upfront about preferences; some people are more at ease in person, some prefer e-mail or text, and some prefer phone calls. Customers may also have preferences about one-on-one vs. group communication. If you’re communicating in the ways they prefer, you’ll make them more comfortable … and they’ll be more likely to cooperate.
5. Problem-Solve with Confidence
Be confident in your abilities to brainstorm and implement solutions. A problem can be a real break – a stroke of luck or the chance to get out of everyday ruts and make yourself or a situation better. Problems don’t always arrive as a result of external factors or bad events; any new awareness that offers a possibility for improvement presents a “problem” to solve.
6. Learn the Necessary Skills to Do the Job Well
Having a narrow technical focus isn’t enough; you need to possess other critical skills, such as communication (both written and verbal), negotiation, and decision-making to gain support or implement decisions. Read books, take courses, attend learning and networking events, listen to webinars, and read blogs. Pick out something new each day to apply on the job. Before you know it, this continuous-improvement process will accumulate, and the new skills you’ve learned become second nature.
7. Formally Kick Off Your Projects
Your first project meeting is an opportunity to share your plan for leading the project to a successful completion. Take advantage of this chance to energize the group, set expectations, and establish guidelines to complete the project on time and within budget.
8. Hold Regular Team Meetings
In just a few minutes, you can distribute information, solicit feedback, set timelines, line up resources, and update stakeholders. Remember to:
- Have an agenda
- Stay on track
- E-mail key takeaways, numbers, dates, and decisions made after the meeting
Check back soon for Part 2 of Better Project Management Strategies!
Photo by Ambro