Project management has become a buzz word in the past few years. And with good reason.
Most companies operate using structures that are amenable to project-based management. The methods of project management have shown to reduce the risks for the company, cut the operational costs and improve the overall success rates. It is also a key driver of change management initiatives.
Delivering a great project depends solely on one person – the Project Manager. It might sound counterintuitive because there is usually a whole team involved in the process. While it is true that the team members are just as important, the Project Manager is the one who takes all the responsibility for the outcome of the project. He is burdened with a great task that requires him/her to possess and develop many qualities.
All successful Project Managers have a toolbox, which they use to run their projects and achieve the desired results. You might be wondering what is inside that toolbox? Tools, of course. Let’s
explore what they are.
Every toolbox has a top layer where all of the most important tools are stored. They are the ones you use the most, and the ones that can save your project.
Tool 1: Effective Communication
The successful Project Manager has to know how to communicate effectively. Every person perceives information differently. Some people like numbers, others – prefer to see the human side of a particular issue. The Project Manager has to understand that and adjust his/her communication style accordingly.
Tool 2: Active Listening
Another crucial device, located in the top layer, is active listening. People often say more than they mean. Words only account for about 7% of it, and the rest is the tone of voice (38%) and body language (55%). Active listening is especially useful if teammates cannot express themselves adequately,
so the Project Manager has to “translate” their message to the rest.
Tool 3: Leadership
You can have a successful leader who is not a good manager, but you can never have a successful Project Manager who is not a good leader. Thankfully, leadership is a quality which can
be taught and learned, if only you choose to do so. A good leader has a vision of where he/she wants to go and invites people to follow along. He/she understands people’s strengths and
weaknesses (through active listening) and knows how they can be used. In turn, he/she helps team members see their unique role and contribution to the project (effective communication).
In the middle layer, you will find tools which are vital for the successful numerical execution of the
Tool 1: Backwards Planning
Every successful Project Manager should be fluent in the language of planning. Start with your end goal, and add a time constraint – when should this goal be achieved? Then look at the
timeline you have created. Place the most important milestones that the project will have along the way. Once you have those, you can start planning each task that should be done for the milestones to be completed successfully. Add numerical measurements – deadlines and KPIs (key performance indicators).
Tool 2: Tracking
Once you have your plan in place, you can take out the next tool in the middle layer – the tracking. KPIs can help you see how well your project is doing, or if something is missing. Remember to track the progress of the project on a regular basis.
Tool 3: Team Management
You need to have the right people to complete the project successfully. Choose them carefully. What are the profiles of people that you need to have on your team? What are the
skillsets that you are looking for? What is the behavior that you want to see your team members display?
When you have your team selected, you need to be prepared to lead and manage it. In the beginning, people will need more guidance and explanation. Soon, conflicts might arise while
everyone learns how to work with each other. This is a normal process and nothing to be afraid of. Your job is to help them through it. When it passes, the team members will know how to work together and will be performing to their best.
The lower layer contains tools, which you don’t use on an everyday basis and might support the tools from the previous two layers.
Tool 1: Time Management
For your project to be on time, you have to be on time. That happens with proper planning (which we already discussed). Tracking the project KPIs and milestones is only one part the
successful project. You have to monitor your team members and yourself. Is everyone executing their tasks on time? If that is not the case, what is the reason? How can it be improved?
Tool 2: Conflict Management & Resolution
Conflicts are a natural part of the team formation. Many managers are afraid of them, so they try to avoid them. That, however, is one of the biggest mistakes you can do. Having conflicts in the team is a healthy thing – it means that people care about the project, and want to see it succeed just as much as you do. It can be difficult to maneuver through people’s emotions and thoughts, but the result is worth it.
Tool 3: Delegate
Think of all other types of management: resource management, risk management, financial management. They are all critical, but they can also be delegated. The ability to delegate is a
vital tool in your box. Ask one of your team members to deal with the finances, and another – to create a risk assessment and track it. That way the team will have more accountability and
ownership of the project.
The Toolbox of A Successful Project Manager
The success of the project does not depend on one thing. It’s a combination of tools, processes and good teamwork. A successful Project Manager knows that and uses it to his/her advantage.