Project management style can define how successful a company is in the long run. Trent Wood, our guest author, describes the 10 most powerful PM behaviors.
Trent has vast experience in project management. He led the development and international release of Siebel 7.0 (the first web-based CRM), built and managed a project portfolio management system at Symantec in R&D, and launched the Kodak international web application for photo sharing and printing. He received his PMP certification in 2011 and his ScrumMaster certification in 2014.
Here’s what Trent writes about the most effective PM behaviors:
1. Make sure team members commit to a delivery date.
When you need to have something done, ask your people to provide a delivery date in front of their colleagues so they’re committed to the task. Make this a part of every meeting.
2. Make certain everyone knows what they have to do.
People forget and misinterpret things, no matter how many times you give them reminders or written explanations of their tasks. To make sure work goes smoothly, confirm that everyone understands what is expected of them each step of the way.
3. See if everyone is engaged with the project.
If someone in your team doesn’t provide a status, misses deliverables, or stops attending meetings, you have to talk to them about it. Have a face-to-face meeting and see if you can resolve the situation. However, be careful not to criticize or blame the person; just speak honestly about the things that bother you and make sure the team member is not overloaded, blocked, in need of help, etc.
4. Value other people’s time.
Don’t overestimate the significance of the information you want to provide. Every meeting should follow an agenda and be efficient. If some people don’t necessarily need to be present at the meeting, let them know in advance. Each meeting attendee needs to see value in everything you say. In written communication, add names next to important information and action items to help people focus.
5. Make sure you are supportive of your people.
As an example, you could help someone deal with an obstacle or a dependency on a task you gave them. Ask them if your assistance would be helpful, even if it’s something you consider to be trivial or busy work. The main thing is for them to understand that you are always there to support and help. People appreciate such gestures and tend to respond with greater commitment to the project.
6. Recognize people’s achievements publicly.
Show your gratitude for someone’s good work in public on a regular basis. Make it real and be sincere about it. Make certain project sponsors and managers also hear the names of the hard workers. Thank people for performing well and delivering on time and help them see the positive contribution they make to projects.
7. If the work is blocked, make some changes.
This especially applies to projects where engineers spend countless hours looking for solutions, yet fail to advance, even when the deadline is approaching. Such cases happen when many people need to collaborate on a project but are not communicating sufficiently to resolve the issues. As a PM, you need to facilitate productive discussions and get additional resources, should the situation require it. Arrange meetings, get more people to work on the projects, and make sure communication is effective.
8. Stay motivated and be vigilant.
You need to always be aware of the status of your projects. Get real-time updates to know if there are challenges or if anything is not going according to plan. Sometimes, feeling too relaxed might lead to unexpected issues. Talk to people, see if tasks are going to be delivered on time. Always think about potential issues in advance and have strategies for dealing with them.
9. Tackle the challenges.
It’s hardly likely that a project goes with no complications. In fact, it’s anomalous. When it comes to technology development projects, uninvited surprises may come at any minute, undermining the whole project. When you think some task will take a month to complete, it will turn out to require 6 months. Even when you work on risk mitigation, unexpected situations will still happen. You need to be mentally prepared to face such struggles. When complications arise, show your leadership skills and work with your team to resolve them. Proactively communicate and engage with stakeholders. Lead the decision-making and corrective actions.
10. Under-promise and over-deliver.
This might be the most significant, yet also the most difficult part of the job. It requires proper stakeholder, planning and scope management. When planning, make sure you have allocated sufficient time in case some tasks take longer than anticipated. Stakeholders’ expectations can turn any project into a success or failure. However, it’s also possible that people regard you as not aggressive enough because of such conservative planning. A compressed schedule can help motivate your team and give them a sense of urgency. As a PM, you need to find a happy medium between aggressive and conservative planning.
If you have something to add based on your experience, share your tips in the comments. If you would like to become our next guest author, feel free to contact us.