We’re sure that every project manager has a list of lists that they hope to get to rather sooner than later. As the business world continues to rapidly change from day to day, you should keep track of what’s important and let go of everything else.
So please, take this as a sign to revisit your list of lists and throw out half of them. Not only are some of them outdated, but probably the majority of them are centred around unimportant things, and our remedy to this is a list of only 3 tips you really need in order to level up your project management in 2021.
This article will help you better understand why those 3 things you’ve been postponing are so important and how to start working on them with tried and tested tips from those who used them.
Manage Time More Efficiently
Time management is an essential part of any project manager’s strategy. Knowing how much time to allocate to each team in order to meet the deadline without diminishing the results is a trait of every great project manager. Moreover, you need to know when to bring in different teams or certain team members.
If you’re still having troubles with this, here are a few tips that can help you. Divide your project into 5 stages:
- Performance Monitoring
We’re sure you already have some time management strategy you use. However, it may be time to upgrade it.
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Use the first stage of your project wisely. The very first thing you need to do as a project manager is preparing for a discovery session. This is a meeting where you figure out your client’s needs, their pain points, their understanding of the subject matter and the deadline in which you have to finish the project.
At the beginning of a discovery session, you have to stand your ground and make sure that the other person knows that you’re the one running the meeting. Our tip for that is to pick out the place. By that, we mean going somewhere neutral, without distractions. By avoiding both of your offices, you’re essentially removing any obstacles in the form of interrupting co-workers or phone calls.
Once your meeting gets started, you’ll want to get to the bottom of a few issues, like what their intended goals are and why they chose you to fix their problems. You should assess their expectations and figure out if you’re on the same page about resources and the deadline.
When it comes to the second stage of your project — planning, you’ll want to plan exactly which teams and team members will work on the project at a specific time. Work with your team to figure out how much time they need and at what point of the project should they start with their part of the job.
Once everyone is aware of their responsibilities and knows the time frame in which they have to finish their part of the project, it’s time to start working on it. At this point, the project manager should regularly check on the progress of the project and report back, as well as work out any potential problems.
In the later stages of your project, you should make sure that everything is going according to the plan, and you’re not going over the budget or the deadline. Once you finish the project, make sure to analyze it and work out what could’ve been done differently in order to achieve even better results.
An extra tip we have for you is to set yourself shorter deadlines. That way if any member of your team needs more time, or if someone procrastinates, you’ll still have time to finish your project without needing an extension on your deadline.
Another important thing to focus on is learning when to say no. If you’re faced with a lot of responsibilities, you’ll need to say no to other responsibilities from time to time. Saying no to your boss may be daunting, but the trick is to present them with all of your current projects and show them how much responsibility you already have and how many things you’re already working on, instead of just telling them.
If you’re not comfortable with refusing a job, try to negotiate a different timeline, so that you can finish some of your most pressing responsibilities.
Work On Your Tech Skills
There are a lot of different skills every project manager should have. Time management, communication, leadership, cost management, but most importantly an understanding of the technical side of their industry.
Having practical experience, for example, creating a website structure will go a long way for someone who works as a project manager in an IT company. It helps you understand the scope of the work, the amount of time and effort, as well as gives you an insight into what works and what doesn’t.
This is extremely important for project managers because they are usually the ones that negotiate the project goals and rates with clients, and not knowing what could work and how much time it takes, sets you up for failure.
If you think about it, project managers that don’t have the right technical background don’t necessarily have the tools and knowledge to understand what could work, nor do they know the trends or industry standards. This often leads to a complete deconstruction of the project and in turn leads to a prolonged date of completion.
While a quick fix would be to always have a programmer with you when negotiating the structure of any project, and any later add-ons, it’s not a sustainable solution. So instead of having to learn the hard way, as many of us had to, start investing in yourself and find a way to learn and develop your technical skills.
As you begin to learn, you’ll understand that no matter how trivial some things may seem, you can never assume you know everything there is to know about development until you dive into it.
Not only will a vast knowledge of a certain subject help you better organize all your future projects, but you’ll also learn how to better communicate with your team members. Realy understanding the difference between back-end and front-end may seem like a small step, but it will get you into the good graces of your programmers and as soon as they see you putting in the effort, they will reach out and educate you.
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Learn How To Motivate Remote Workers
This is a step where individuality plays a major role. While some of your team members are flourishing while working remotely and others are getting caught in the second wind of sorts and are once again accomplishing amazing results, there are people who feel lethargic and need more motivation than others.
The trick is to make their work engaging and to show them how they’re creating an impact with their work. This will, of course, differ greatly from industry to industry. However, it is crucial to communicate with your team members.
You need to have a great understanding of all of your employee’s circumstances in order to truly get to the centre of their problem. The best way to go about doing that is to make yourself available to them. If someone needs your help, they need to know that you’ll be there for them, that you’ll actively listen and try to understand.
The answer is usually in the question. You just need to get them comfortable enough to ask it. If they tell what demotivates them, try to implement real changes to show that you care about them and are willing to put in the work to help them feel motivated.
A truly actionable step to do would be to implement a weekly meeting where you talk about how your workload impacts a greater picture in terms of your long term goals. Ask your employees what could be worked on and improved and go from there.
Don’t expect to hear a lot of complaints the first few times, but as long as you create a non-judgmental space, your co-workers will open up to you in their own time.
Later on, reach out to your clients and ask them to share how your company’s work helped them reach their goals, improve their business and helped them grow. Once you collect those reviews and sound bites, create a presentation or develop an interactive course and show your employees that their work has a tangible value and that they truly matter.
It may sound cheesy, but a good human interest story never goes out of style. So just like case studies and social proof work on your potential clients, so should it work on your employees.
While a lot of us have been putting off things for the foreseeable future, it truly is time to sit down and get to work on your tech skills, time management and motivation strategy. The more you educate yourself and work on your skills, the better project manager you’ll be and the easier it will be for you to foresee any future hurdles in your line of work.
At the end of the day, it’s important to realize the needs of your team, and the only ways you’ll get there is by analyzing your past project performance and by communicating with your team members.
Setting up an open channel of communication and working on your listening skills will help you not just in your business, but also in your private relationships.
Petra Odak is a Chief Marketing Officer at Better Proposals, a simple yet incredibly powerful proposal software tool that helps you send high-converting, web-based business proposals in minutes. She’s a solution-oriented marketing enthusiast with more than 5 years of experience in various fields of marketing and project management.
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3 Proven Tips to Level Up Your Project Management in 2021 was originally published in ProofHub Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
3 Proven Tips to Level Up Your Project Management in 2021