I’m not saying I’m always the brightest light on the Christmas tree – I definitely have my moments. I’m sure you’ve had those you’ve dealt with – other business professionals, perhaps a son-in-law, etc. where you just can’t figure out how they came to that conclusion out in left field…like they were trying to come up with the very wrongest (is that a word?) response to whatever topic is being bounced around. Applying a little common sense goes a long way to making you look more expert in the business world. You do not have to be a rocket scientist or even act like one, but please seem like you are trying. At least fake it long enough to see if you can make it.
What am I talking about? I’m talking about customer project sponsors or project managers who suggest out of this world project solution scenarios that you now have to rein in carefully because it makes no sense, but means a lot to them. I’m talking about the project manager who is trying to over manage on the project to make themselves look busy or self-important when really what is needed is good task management, delegation, communication and let the team run with their assigned tasks. I’m not saying that’s all there is to project management, but that’s a lot of it, so if you’re not doing that as your main PM job, then you may be blocking the path to success for your team and project more than you are enabling it.
As a project manager, work smarter…not harder. And you do this by staying with the basic best practices:
Stay on top of the project schedule. Conduct the weekly team meetings to get latest status from your project team members and take that to the project schedule and revise it weekly - (daily?) accordingly. The goal is to go into the formal weekly project status call with the customer always knowing the latest information. As the PM, the last thing you want is your tech lead sharing a status update with the project customer on a weekly customer call that you know nothing about, and isn’t already being reflected in your project schedule.
Manage the scope well. One of the most important tasks the project manager has is to manage project scope well. It serves as a basis for many other success points on the project, including staying on track with the project timeline, staying on budget, and keeping the project as profitable as possible. It’s easy to let scope get out of hand, but it’s not a smart way to manage projects and doesn’t take much time – just good communication and engagement.
Communicate, communicate, communicate. So many bad practices and project failure points can be avoided by practicing good, thorough project communication. That means listening well, too…don’t forget that. Conduct those project meetings, follow-up afterwards with notes to ensure everyone understands what was covered and is still on the same page, keep your project team and customer informed at all times of the latest and greatest project info, and do the same for your senior management - if that is appropriate for your project and PM infrastructure. Be wise…don’t minimize.
Summary / call for input
There are ways you can appear, act, and conduct yourself to come off as experienced even if you aren't that experienced. Fake it 'till you make it if you have to. Just focus on best practices and if you’re struggling, don’t keep doing the same things wrong. Seek out a mentor. They are all around you and ready to help.
How about our readers? What frustrations have you witnessed in other project managers, leaders, project team members, customers and company leaders that drive you crazy? Please share your thoughts and discuss.