Your First Steps As a Project Manager

When the terror of project management seizes you by surprise, it is best to have a few steps to reference before resorting to crying in a ball in the corner.   Although the corner is a warm and safe harbor, it is hard to get many things done from there.   Jennifer Whitt details seven specific steps that will start you off on the right foot.   By the end of her steps, you may even find yourself as the intentional project manager.


In her first step, Whitt demands organization.   Taking the time to think about what you need in order to start before actually starting will save you time and worry in the long run.   Once you are organized, there is no shame in soliciting support from mentors.   Whitt highlights the importance of reaching out to those who have been in your shoes:


Seek out someone who has been there and done that.   Maybe they’ve led the type of project you are leading, or know your organization.   Know who can go to [sic] for guidance and who will be a sounding board.   Some of the most difficult moments during a project have to do with the people.   It’s important to have someone give you objective, candid, honest feedback.


After identifying the people you can go to within your organization for assistance and leverage (Step #3), it is important to get to know the people within your own team.   If you don’t know your team as well as you would like to, or if you just wish to know them better, simply talking to them is usually the most effective course of action.   Once you get to know your team, you will most likely feel better setting expectations for them (Step #5).   Whitt then suggests that, after you give a detailed and thought out description of what your expectations are for them, you should ask your team what their expectations are of you and the project as a whole.   Aligned expectations lead to success.


Getting involved with the project in person and offline is also crucial to success (Step #6).   Whitt suggests getting involved with a Linkedin group and soliciting feedback from local and worldwide project management groups.


Whitt suggests that implementation of available systems is the last step to being a successful project manager, but it is by no means the least important step.   Excel, PowerPoint, and other project management software allows for fluid movement within the project.   Overall, as Whitt states, mobilization, socialization, and globalization are key steps to becoming an ideal project manager.


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