Being a successful project manager depends not only on what you do, but also on how you do it. Your attitudes and behaviors toward people affect how they respond to that person. The following tips here can help you become a better leader.
- Tell your team what you want, not how to do it. You will find your team more responsive and less defensive if you can give them guidance, not instructions. You will also see more initiative, more innovation, and more of an ownership attitude from them develop over time.
- Don't DO Anything. Your job as a project manager is to "plan, organize, control and direct." Do not waste valuable time by falling back on what you did before you became a manager. You may enjoy it, and you are good at it. That is why you were promoted to project manager. Now you need to concentrate your efforts on managing, not on "doing".
- Get out of your desk. Management By Walking Around (MBWA) does work. You make yourself more approachable. You get information first-hand, and you will find out what's really happening.
- Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals. Goals you set for yourself, or others, should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
- Set an example. "One of the most significant parts of a project manager’s job is for them to become a positive role model that can pull a team together and deliver the level of service expected from their stakeholders and beneficiaries."
- Actively listen. Listen to your stakeholders, beneficiaries, your team, your suppliers, and anyone else who is involved with your project. Honestly evaluate what they have to say, and you will probably learn something that benefits your project.
- Leaders create change. If you lead, you will cause changes. Be prepared for them and their impact on people within, and outside, your group. If you are not making changes, you are not leading.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate. The ability to communicate with people at all levels is almost always named as the second most important skill by project managers and team members. Project leadership calls for clear communication about goals, responsibility, performance, expectations and feedback.
- Fix the problem, not the blame. It is far more productive, and less expensive, to figure out what to do to fix a problem that has come up than it is to waste time trying to decide whose fault it was.
- Get your people involved. It's a lot easier to get your team to stand behind a management decision if they have the opportunity to participate in the discussion. Management still has to make the decision, but if they have had the opportunity to make their point of view known, the team is more apt to stand behind the decision.
Want to learn more? Register for the next session of our online course Leadership Project Management for Development Organizations and NGOs.