What separates the best project managers from the rest? The best project managers are able to consistently deliver high-quality that are on time and that constantly seem to exceed their stakeholder’s expectations. How? It seems that these “all-star” team leaders possess an innate and intuitive understanding that strong leadership and people skills are just as important as expertise in project management processes and tools.
Today, I wanted to try and help all team leaders improve. We all can be all starts, sometimes all it takes is a little bit of help. So here are five tips courtesy of the blog, Careerealsim, that we should all focus on in our efforts to become better project managers and team leaders.
1. Understand Project Deliverables
The project manager is the ultimate person responsible for both gathering and understanding what is needed for a successful project. What you may not realize is that they are also tasked with defining and communicating project success. It is their job to make sure that the criteria for project success is clearly defined and that all the results are measurable. These must be delivered up-front so that team leaders can successfully get team buy-in. Once all the requirements are agreed upon it’s up to create and maintain an overall plan and schedule.
2. Assign Tasks According to Strengths
A team leader may be working with a predetermined team, or have the ability and responsibility of assembling a team. In either scenario, team leaders must understand the talents, the strengths, and the weaknesses of each of their individual team members. Assigning the right task to the best team member is critical for project success. You can imagine what happens when leaders make incorrect pairings. Even the best of teams can run aground if the team leader fails to match up the tasks according to teammate’s strengths.
3. Take Ownership and Lead
Effective project managers take ownership for project deliverables. They have to use a wide range of leadership skills to influence and motivate the people involved. The must coach team members, as well as inspire confidence in their management of the project. Team leaders also are responsible for ensuring that the lines of communication are always open and that team dynamics are positive.
4. Keep the Project on Track
Probably priority number one for most team leaders. This is the area where ineffective project managers typically fall short. A good way to help you stay on top of your projects is by establishing milestone reviews. They are a great way to keep track of deadlines and deliverables. Falling behind on a milestone should be viewed as a red flag that if gone untreated could put the entire project at risk. During these reviews, the project leader must also have the foresight to recognize and predict possible future roadblocks that might put the project at risk down the road.
5. Assess and Reflect
A team leader’s role is not finished when the project is completed. No, after a project is completed and delivered it’s important for the project leader to take some time and reflect on the project. What worked, what didn’t, what could be improved for next time? A good idea during this time is to meet once more with your team and solicit their feedback. This process should create a set of actionable ideas that can be used to improve the next similar project. A quick tip: savvy project managers try to keep the tone of these meetings light and positive by emphasizing the value of the team’s contribution.
Becoming an all-star project manager isn’t rocket science. We all can do it. By utilizing these several tips next time you’re managing a project you will see that your team will produce better results and you’ll be seen as one of those all-stars we all strive to be.