7 Tips for Novice Project Managers
By Michelle Symonds
If you’re new to project management or are interested into getting into managing projects as a career, you might be wondering whether you’re suitable for the role. As well as a sense of tough resilience and excellent organisational skills, you’re going to need to be able to listen and learn. And what better place to start than right here with our top 7 tips for novice project managers.
- Prepare for a steep learning curve
If you already work in a project environment, you might have been exposed to some project management concepts and terminology already. If not, then prepare yourself for a steep learning curve. You’ll soon come to realise that project management has a language all of its own and a wealth of facets to understand and take on board if you are going to be a great project manager.
If you aren’t sure, ask
Nobody is going to expect you to know everything from the word go. In fact, they will probably be expecting you to ask lots of questions in your early days as a project manager as you start to get your head around things. Asking is fine, so don’t be afraid to approach colleagues and employers for advice. Much rather this than have someone going into a project head on with only half an idea of what they are doing.
Find a good mentor
Guidance from seasoned project managers is crucial in these early days of your career. Find someone in the organisation to help you along the way, as you’ll learn far more from an experienced professional that you’ll ever learn from a textbook.
Follow the defined processes within your organization
The majority of businesses will have a certain way of doing things, known as processes. These are basically repeatable actions that keep the day to day operation of the business running smoothly. Well organized or more established businesses will normally have these processes written down and documented for you to learn, although smaller and younger companies may still rely on word of mouth.
Learn both how and when to communicate effectively
Communication is at the heart of any project manager’s job, and that includes communications within the team, upward to senior management, outward to stakeholders and in between departments. This means a good project manager must be adept at targeting and honing their communication skills to suit a range of audiences.
Look after your team
Projects will only succeed thanks to the combined efforts of all your team working together. For this reason it is crucial that you do everything you can to facilitate effective and efficient working within the team, and that you support team members in their development and learning pathways.
Getting certified is an important step in project management, and will ultimately lead to you earning more and getting better jobs. Most certification routes require varying degrees of experience prior to getting the Certification, so choose your pathway early on and make sure you document anything you are likely to need to claim for your certification so you can easily prove your experience, especially for some of the APMP qualifications that require evidence of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) such as the APM RPP Registered Project Professional.
Michelle Symonds is a qualified PRINCE2 Project Manager and believes that the right project management training can transform a good project manager into a great project manager and is essential for a successful outcome to any project.
There is a wide range of formal and informal training courses now available that include online learning and podcasts as well as more traditional classroom courses from organizations such as Parallel Project Training.