In our last post, we discussed best practices of project management. This week, we wanted to take a look at the role and responsibilities of an effective project manager.
You will need (and want) people to help you. Hopefully, you know you can’t (or don’t want to) do it all alone, so give yourself the obvious role of project manager and get ready to delegate.
Setting Realistic & Reasonable Expectations
Your plan needs to be achievable, your results attainable. I’m sure you have heard that famous business motto – under-promise and over-deliver? Everyone wants to have a successful outcome, just be sure to be pragmatic. Having a sensible grasp from the onset will mitigate the risk of disappointment or (gasp) project failure.
“Yes, risk-taking is inherently failure-prone. Otherwise, it would be called ‘sure-thing-taking.’”
— Jim McMahon
Simon Andras from Lifehack emphasizes this as a vital launching point: “You can finish a task successfully on time and within budget, as long as expectations are reasonable. You most likely cannot work miracles if expectations are not reasonable, and would only be setting yourself up for project failure.”
Note: if you are working with contractors (vs employees) you should always expect longer turnaround times, because the reality is you’re not their only client…
Acknowledge Good Work & Small Victories
Everyone wants to work hard for someone who is appreciative of his or her hard work. Think about that favorite teacher or coach you had in your youth. You wanted to perform better just to hear them say “Great job!”. This same principle rings true as an adult. Just like in professional sports, a coach doesn’t stay silent until the championship. There are many games to win along the way. Celebrate them with your team and for yourself. Soft skills, like positive reinforcement, not only feel good but keep the flames of motivation burning bright.
“Culture is about performance, and making people feel good about how they contribute to the whole.”
— Tracy Streckenbach
Naturally, you as a project manager will need to give criticism and suggestions for improvement. Just make sure you do so with diplomacy and stick with what is called The Feedback Ratio. In her article for Levo, Megan Conley explains the balance that equals the best results: “The average ratio for high performing teams was six positive comments for every negative one. For low-performing teams, the average was nearly half of that—three positive comments for every one negative one. What does that tell us? A little negative feedback goes a long way, and should be paired with positive feedback for the best results.”
“A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.”
— Arnold H. Glasow
Be Direct About Responsibility and Accountability
Assign tasks confidently and clearly and don’t bottleneck or micromanage. Eliminate confusion or ambiguity. When everyone has decisive ownership of their own piece of the project, they are free to do their job effectively and efficiently. Jennifer Lonoff Schiff writes, “To avoid confusion, determine which team members are responsible for which pieces of work [up front], and enforce accountability. An online task management program is a simple way to do this.”
“Only the guy who isn’t rowing has time to rock the boat.”
— Jean-Paul Sartre
“It’s important that each member of your team understands what is expected from them,” adds Brandon Seymour, owner, Beymour Consulting, an SEO and inbound marketing firm. “This includes the full scope of the project and a precise timeline of when tasks need to be completed.” Because every project is different, “it helps for all of the key players to have a solid understanding of how each of their efforts contributes to the project as a whole. Project milestones and benchmarks are great for managing these expectations and keeping teams on track with deadlines.”
Hopefully, this post helps to instill the need for an effective project manager as part of your team and the right tools for them to complete their job.
“Everyone enjoys doing the kind of work for which he is best suited.”
— Napoleon Hill
In our next blog, we give further details on our project management system of choice, Teamwork.
Until then, feel free to have a sneak peak at an online task and project management software program that can effortlessly map out even the most daunting of projects, streamline communications, automate reminders, and provide a clear process to keep everyone on point. We love Teamwork!