New to the project management world or just in search of a reintroduction? This post by Jan Birley is focused on the people who find themselves a project manager without, perhaps, expecting to end up there. This happens often enough: your boss tells you to head something up despite the fact that you are ill prepared in both experience and knowledge to effectively manage a project. You can't back away from the responsibility without seeming like you don't want to be a team player, so what do you do? The first step, according to Birley, is to communicate as much as possible:
Establish clear communications. Make time to talk face to face with team members, to help build a good working rapport. Communicate with all of your stakeholders. To do this, you need to be clear, firstly, who they are, so spend time thinking about this. Secondly, consider how best to keep them updated with project progress. In some cases, this might be a printed report, in others, perhaps an email. Being able to communicate effectively both with team members and stakeholders is probably the most important skill a project manager must have.
The list then goes on:
- Lead your team while recognizing their contributions
- Don't try to fix what isn't broken (just to make your mark)
- Tackle problems head on
- Understand available technologies
Another great tip – and one that is often not followed by new project managers – is to speak up when you don't know something. Being a good project manager means admitting when you don't have the answer: it's one of the reasons that building the right team to support you is so important. This is a lesson for CIOs as well: a great way to get a project manager up to the level you want them to achieve is to put them into projects surrounded by people who are able to help them with the difficult questions.