Project management is the subtle art of carrying out a plan. Drafting up a plan for a project that encapsulates the vision of a finished product while also accounting for the timeline, the scope, and the cost is difficult, to say the least. Motivating team members to work toward a singular goal is even more arduous.
How do you make a project work? How do you save time and money? How do you draft up an appropriate plan? There’s no one way to conduct project management activities. However, there are project management masters out there who are able to help you find your way.
Trust your team
Assembling a team is hard work. Once you’ve got the talented individuals that you need, you have to trust them to get the job done. What does that mean? Project managers should take responsibility for outcomes, but they shouldn’t use authority to dictate every step.
“Build strong relationships based on trust, inspiration, and ‘what’s-in-it’ for the individual team member,” says Susanne Madsen, a prominent project manager.
Respecting your team members will foster a healthy, collaborative, and flexible environment that is conducive to your project’s success.
“Build projects around motivated individuals,” the authors of the seminal Agile Manifesto writes, “Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.”
Establish weekly face-to-face meetings
“The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation,” reads one of the twelve agile principles. This principle doesn’t just apply to development teams, but to all teams with important deadlines.
It may seem obvious that face-to-face meetings are where the most meaningful conversations take place. It’s also important to note that face-to-face meetings enable team members to communicate most effectively. Asynchronous communication, such as email or memos, can lead to gaps in knowledge among team members.
Keep your eye on the prize
“Spend time focusing on the big picture, and not just the day-to-day activities,” Michael Kaplan advises new project managers.
Thinking long-term is absolutely essential for project managers. If you get caught up in the minutia of project management, you risk falling into micromanagement. What’s more: you’ll take too much stake in small successes and failures. Zoom out to ensure you’re focused on the end goal so you don’t trip up when you encounter inevitable roadblocks, challenges, and changes.
Welcome changes during every phase
Being open to change will help your team tremendously. Coming up with a detailed plan can really help get things moving for your project, but being open to tweaking and revising your schedule and scope can mean the difference between project success and failure.
“Welcome changing requirements,” the agile authors tell us, “even late in development.” Change can be scary. It’s better to adapt to it rather than fight against it.
“At regular intervals,” the Agile Manifesto states, “the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.”
Listen to everyone, regardless of rank
“Train communication, create empathy with your stakeholders,” João Rodrigues suggests. “Respect and value everybody’s opinions, even if you don’t completely agree.”
Discourse is important. In order to iron out all the details of your project, you’ll need to be willing to hear notes, comments, and concerns from everyone involved. It’s not necessary to always follow the directives of everyone around you but you should, at the very least, consider what it is they have to say.
“Listen to opinions from everyone, even if you reject them later,” Mehmet Degirmencioglu advises. “Keep communication channels open for all stakeholders: the team, the sponsor, the customer, the end user, your boss.”
Project management involves many moving parts. In order to make the most of any project, you’ve got to have passion, drive, and a little advice from the experts. Running everything smoothly isn’t always guaranteed. However, following the sage advice of management masters will help you achieve your project goals.
There’s so much great advice out there to be heard. In this article, we gathered five key pieces of advice. Project management experts stress the value of trusting your teammates, listening to anyone and everyone involved in the project, establishing face-to-face meetings on a regular basis for meaningful communication, maintaining a long-term focus, and welcoming change.
Integrating these five pieces of advice into your project management philosophy will help you make a happy, healthy, and productive working environment.