Leadership, Personal Growth

Effective Project Management in 4 Easy Steps

Project management can sound like a daunting undertaking, especially if you don’t have years of experience or specialized certification. But here’s the thing: you can be an excellent project manager without any of that. In fact, you likely already have a number of the necessary skills of a project manager. While we at ACHIEVE endorse upskilling and lifelong learning, when it comes to the foundations of managing a project, anyone who is intentional about how they’re approaching it can be great at it.

Keep reading for four steps to consider before you take the lead on your next project at work.

1. Communicate clearly, regularly, and effectively.

As the project manager, make sure that everyone involved knows what their role is, how to do their job, how they contribute to the whole, and is aware of what’s happening as the project progresses. That means you need to be able to communicate clearly, regularly, and effectively with everyone. That also means you need to know your team:

  • How do they like to communicate?
  • What are the expectations for communication?
  • How do they like to receive feedback?
  • How often do stakeholders want to be looped in?

Whether you’re in a leadership position or not, building rapport with your team and colleagues is crucial to being able to effectively communicate with them.

You wouldn’t go on a road trip just guessing how to get there – embarking on a project without a plan makes just as little sense!

2. Come up with a clear plan.

No matter how quick you are on your feet, you aren’t going to be able to manage a project without thinking through the following from the outset:

  • What’s your goal?
  • What do you need to get it done?
  • What resources are available to you?
  • What might go wrong?
  • What does “completing” the project actually look like?

You wouldn’t go on a road trip just guessing how to get there – embarking on a project without a plan makes just as little sense! This means you need to think through not just what you’re trying to accomplish, but what might pose a challenge for you along the way and how you’ll deal with it when it does. There is little you can be entirely certain about when planning a project other than something will likely go awry. Be prepared!

You’re the person responsible for ensuring that everyone has what they need to get their piece of the puzzle completed.

3. Get organized.

Overseeing several moving parts and being responsible for a final outcome means that you need to be organized!

  • Who is doing what?
  • When is each task due?
  • What needs to be done for the next person to do their job?

This is no back-of-a-napkin situation: you’re the person responsible for ensuring that everyone has what they need to get their piece of the puzzle completed. Think in advance how you want to collect, store, and disseminate information so that you’re not scrambling to find a system that works mid-project.

4. Be flexible.

Something will probably come up (remember that guarantee about things going awry?). A budget might change. A team member might get sick and need to drop out. A deadline may need to be moved. You need to be flexible when changes inevitably occurs so that you can roll with the punches and figure out, okay, how do we get back on track from here?

Being an excellent project manager also means being confident in your own abilities, trusting your decision making, and knowing when you need to ask for support.

You have more project management experience than you think.

Even if you haven’t yet taken the lead on a project at work or been assigned the role of “project manager,” there’s a good chance that you’ve played this role at some point – and done it well! Think about some of the things that you already do, both in the workplace and in your personal life. Have you ever organized a holiday party for the office? Or thrown a birthday party for yourself or your child? How about family vacations – have you had to book flights and arrange accommodations?

All of these are examples of projects that require the skills of a project manager: booking a venue, sending invites, organizing party activities, and pivoting when the weather turns or you forget your Bluetooth speaker at home. So, while there are ways in which we can strengthen and fine-tune our project management skills, it’s also important to remind ourselves of what we’re already great at.

Being an excellent project manager also means being confident in your own abilities, trusting your decision making, and knowing when you need to ask for support. If you’re interested in strengthening your project management skills, check out our workshop: Project Management Fundamentals.


For more FREE RESOURCES on this topic and others, visit our free resources page.

Author

Jessica Antony

Trainer, ACHIEVE Centre for Leadership

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