LEADERSHIP / JUL. 19, 2016
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7 Expert Tips on How to be a Better Project Manager

Do you want to become a better project manager? If you don't want to do an online certification course, then, all you need to do is follow these seven simple steps…being a good projet manager is actually easy.

Whether you’re wearing the project manager hat for the first time or have decades of experience, there’s always room for growth. Here are what the experts say are their top eight tips for everything from communication to time management to leadership. Commit to working on one or more tips below and you’ll be on your way to becoming a better, more successful project manager.

See Also: How to Become a Project Manager

1. Keep Meetings Focused

busy employees
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Meetings are essential in order to brainstorm ideas, get everyone on the same page, and to communicate efficiently. However, meetings can also be a hindrance. Consider these statistics:

59% of employees say wasteful meetings prevent them from getting work done.

91% of employees admit to daydreaming during meetings and 39% have admitted to falling asleep.

25-50% of meeting time is considered wasted.

Calculate your costs to get an idea of how much your company is spending every time it holds a meeting. If the amount shocks you, consider lowering your meeting times by inviting fewer people, establishing ground rules, and staying on task.

2. Set Realistic Timetables

Too often, project managers are full of optimism when it comes to how quickly a task can be completed. If an unrealistic timetable has been given to a client, deadlines might be missed. Rather than finding yourself in a stressful, last-minute time crunch, be honest with yourself and with others about how much time each step in the project requires.

In addition, it’s important to ensure your client understands that they are also accountable for keeping the project on track.  They need to know that if they make changes to the scope of work, additional time and money will be required.

3. Remove Distractions

It’s almost impossible to stay focused when phone calls, emails, texts, notifications, alerts, and, of course, coworkers are constantly disrupting your workflow.

At the beginning of your day, decide which tasks are vital and urgent, which ones are important, and which ones you should delegate or eliminate. Close the door (literally or figuratively) to well-meaning co-workers. Declutter your workspace. Try using a time-tracking app or a distraction-reducing app like RescueTime or StayFocused. 

4. Curb Scope Creep

Uncontrolled adjustments and changes to a project can be a real problem as a project manager. Even a “tiny favor” can quickly turn into long delays and an out-of-control budget. To curb scope creep, define what is and isn’t on the critical path of the project, and communicate with your clients when adding “one more thing” isn’t in their best interest.

5. Identify Each Team Member’s Strengths and Limitations

In order to work well as a team, you must know (and embrace) each team member’s strengths and accept (and bypass) each team member’s limitations. By making assignments according to who is the best person for each specific task, work will get done faster, more efficiently, and at a higher level of satisfaction.  

6. Reflect on Each Project After Completion

Shortly after a project has been delivered, look back on what worked and what didn’t. If you look carefully, you’ll be able to take away lessons that will improve how you manage your next project. Did the end-result fully solve the problem it was designed to address? How do the costs compare with the benefits achieved? Can the team deliver even better results next time? Ask both your team and you clients in order to get a more complete and accurate picture.

7. Accept Constructive Criticism

employees working
Shutterstock

When negative feedback is received without putting up a defense, project managers can find value in the comments given and can use them as a catalyst for improvement.

 The first step to accepting constructive criticism is to stop your first, sudden reaction. The second step is to listen closely for understanding and ask questions for clarification. The last step is to thank the person for their feedback and acknowledge the effort it took in sharing their thoughts.   

8. Build Your Relationships

As a manager of projects and people, it’s imperative that you have strong working relationships with others. Do this by supporting your team members, reaching out to your extended network of stakeholders, learning from others, and improving your interpersonal skills (likability).

See Also: Skills Every Successful Project Manager Needs [Infographic]

Now that you have the insider’s guide to project management, you’re ready to implement these tips into your daily workflow and become more effective and successful at work.

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