1. Learn to Use Project Management Tools Effectively
A variety of wonderful project management software tools exist today that helps in keeping track of the numerous tasks, their sequence, the critical path, the dependency on other people, and major milestones. Such project management tools are essential to plan, manage and track any kind of project today.
If you are new to project management or new to project management tools, you are incurring a double risk to the project. Make sure you get familiar and know how to use the tools effectively, as they will aid you in your projects immensely.
They also show that you have given some time to planning and you can use the project plan to present progress and communicate to management or team members. A good Scope, Schedule, Cost and Quality management plan will ensure that the Triple Constraints stay in your control.
2. Be Able to Give And Receive Criticism
Giving criticism effectively is not easy. There is a fine line between upsetting your team member and offering constructive feedback that will help the team member and the project. Likewise, the ability to receive criticism and take it positively is crucial for project managers.
It is easy to avoid criticism. Say nothing, do nothing, and be nothing. If your are going to move mountains, you are going to have to accept a little flak.
You can attend short workshops on how to give constructive feedback to help you in this area. This master skill is extremely important to get things done with your team members, and handle mistakes without getting your ego in the way, and without upsetting others.
3. Be Receptive to New Ideas & Procedures
Nobody knows everything. Sometimes we are so busy fighting fires, that we are not able to look at the big picture or think out of the box. Develop a culture where your team members continuously look for new ideas, new ways to make things better and discuss with you.
Having an inclusive culture, where everyone contributes to the well being of the Project has a much higher chance of success. Building such a culture will help you in the short and long run.
4. Address Issues Immediately
If two members of your project team can’t stand each and cooperation is vital to the success of the project, address the issue head on.
Either find a way that they can work professionally, or modify roles and assignments, or do what makes most sense. But don’t let the issue linger on, as it will come back to haunt you, and cause greater stress later on. Issues seldom disappear on their own.
This also relates to your decision making skills. Are you a quick decision maker, or do you keep thinking forever, waiting to make the best decision? Remember, no decision is good or bad at the time of making it. Only time can tell if it was a good decision or not.
5. Manage Your Time Well
Organize your desk, your projects, your email and your time well. There are too many things vying for your attention at any given time. Make sure you spend your time on the things that matter the most. A very good book on this topic is First Things First, by Steven Covey.
In the same vein, most of the manager’s time is spent in meetings. Make sure you have a clear agenda for the meetings you organize, list what decisions need to be made, and work with a fixed, short time period to end the meeting with a decision. Start the meeting on time, and end on time too!
6. Delegate. Don’t micro-manage
One of the dilemma most newbie project managers find is that it takes ages to get some team members to understand what they need to be done.. The project manager get frustrated with explaining the same thing again and again, and keep getting a completely different output than what they expected. So they end up doing it themselves. The more they do things themselves, the less time they have to manage and track the project.
This is a Catch22 situation. If you will not invest time in building the knowledge and skills of your team, you can never expect to achieve major success. There is only a certain amount of work you can do yourself. Make sure your team complements you, and can deliver quality work on their own. If required, send them for training, attach mentors or buddies to help them learn the ropes quickly.
7. Track and Communicate often
Track the progress often, and communicate to all stakeholders. Regular communication keeps everyone happy, and they continue to have the trust in you as an effective and efficient project manager, who stays on top of things.