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Seven Top Tips for Being a Better Project Manager
By Michelle Symonds

No matter where you are in your career, sometimes you need to take a step back and ask yourself if you are really doing the best you can. Even the most experienced project manager could do with a refresher from time to time, so run down our list of 7 top tips for better project management and see if you can make some small changes yourself.

  1. Be the ‘why’ in the room

    As a PM, you are no doubt bombarded by requests, actions and reports on a daily basis. Be the one to ask ‘why’ and ‘what for’ at each and every juncture. By seeking reasoning behind other people’s requests, you can better understand what it really is they need or want and may be able to suggest a better way of doing it.

  2. Maintain a can-do attitude

    No matter how mountainous the task may seem, you are the one person on the team who needs to be able to think positive. Be flexible in your approach and tenacious when it comes to solving problems. Be prepared to keep working on the issue until resolution is achieved.

  3. Be as picky and pedantic as you like

    If you aren’t going to scrutinise your project down to the very last detail, then who is? Give yourself time and space to think, and ensure you know your project plan inside out and back to front. If you can understand what your team is trying to achieve, what hope do they or your stakeholders have?

  4. Spell it out

    Speak your mind (with tact of course) and never beat about the bush. You need to create an environment where everyone, particularly you, is able to say what they mean and mean what they say. Be clear, be decisive and be confident when communicating with your team, otherwise misunderstandings are likely to occur.

  5. Maintain respect, in all directions

    It can be all too easy to write off certain team members as ‘just the admin support’ or with some other derogatory label in mind. Similarly it can be tempting to think that because your superiors are busy overseeing several projects that they obviously know nothing about yours (ergo, you are always right). This is dangerous territory in both directions, so no matter how little you think other know about what you are doing, maintain an air of respect and don’t pre judge what you think they are capable of.

  6. Don’t make assumptions

    Assuming anything in a project environment is guaranteed to land you in hot water. Unless you have seen it, touched it, confirmed it or rubber stamped it yourself, don’t take it for granted that something is the truth. Fact check, investigate and make sure of everything, as all assumptions come with a risk of being wrong.

  7. Give credit where it’s due

    When someone has done something well, be ready to tell them. In fact, don’t stop there. As the project manager tell them, tell their line manager, tell the rest of the project team. In a busy project environment it’s these little bits of recognition that keep everyone motivated and positive, which will ultimately help to achieve project success. Other ways to motivate the team include sending them on a relevant project management course so they also gain formal recognition for their skills.

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.

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