It’s trickier than it looks to manage a project as today’s ever-changing environment is accruing the level of unexpected risks. An efficient project manager must be proactive to complete a project on time and on budget while also following a high standard to keep the project on track and minimise risks. Dr Alicia Aitken, Telstra’s Chief Project Officer shares her top five tips for going the extra mile as a project manager and becoming a star of tomorrow in the project delivery world.
1. Don’t be boring
It's OK for project managers to have a personality. Breathe life into your project and give it some personal flare. Start by identifying what your differentiators are as a project manager. Think along the lines of “What am I particularly proficient at?”, then go ahead and apply it. Let your skills shine through and make people aware of it by highlighting it in your professional curriculum, CV and LinkedIn profile.
2. Be prepared to get your hands dirty
It can be easy to get caught in the delegation of a project when managing a team. Don’t forget how important it is to work with them too and spend time doing some of the work your team actually does. Not only does it show you’re leading by example but it will also help you recognise the different challenges your team may encounter. By understanding what it's like to be on the front line, you will gain unique insight when making broader strategic decisions and communicating them to your peers.
3. Know your stuff, learn new stuff
Whether you’re using collaborative project management software or are responsible for the project schedule, make sure you know the tools you’re using inside and out. Find ways to optimise the project you are working on and engage team members to contribute fully. If you think there is a more efficient way, take the lead and implement your ideas using a platform that suits your requirements best. Such initiative can go a long way.
4. Celebrate the ideas that didn’t work
Recognising employees for their ability to assess and initiate creative ideas is equally important as company-wide success. It encourages teams to challenge themselves and have a forward thinking approach by experimenting with new ways of working. Promoting these ideas could potentially lead to fruition, or when it fails, serve as a learning experience for the organisation as a whole.
And don’t forget, humour encourages creativity while visions will stimulate innovation.
5. Know yourself, know your people
Understanding the company you work in is not enough. To be an efficient project manager, you must be self-aware when it comes to your abilities and weaknesses while understanding your peers’ unconscious motivations. Open communication is essential in a team so make sure you spend enough time getting to know each individual on a deeper level. Working out the type of leader you are while understanding the people you have on your team can make a difference to a team’s effectiveness. It helps in recognising how the team can operate together to make its best contributions.
Building a clear role constellation will in turn enable mutual support and trust, reduce conflict and encourage creative problem solving skills within the team. Project management is constantly evolving so it is crucial for project managers to always focus on updating their skills and sharing ideas in order to remain competent in the future.
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