There are many different ways of leading a project effectively and if you can get the key aspects right then the rest should fall into place naturally. Here are some of the most important points which are worth thinking about.
Maintain Your Focus
All sorts of things can go wrong in a long project, and the number of possible distractions is scary if you think about them too much. One of the most important parts of the project manager’s role is to keep the team working towards their objectives. This might sound like a relatively easy task but if you can pull it off then you have gone a long way to making a success of your job. If you do see that people are wandering off track then it is time to get them working in the right direction again. Sometimes a big team meeting in a neutral venue can be enough to get everyone pulling together effectively again. If you have a number of sub-projects on the go then bringing everyone up to date on the overall situation can help them see how important their own work is and how it could potentially affect the overall outcome. Don’t forget that in this case you are possibly the only person in the whole team who can see the whole picture at any time.
Keep the Paperwork in Order
There are very few people in the world who enjoy dealing with lots of paperwork. However, if want to be an effective project manager then it is one of the tasks which you are going to have get used to. The good news is that setting up a good system before the project starts is going to help you a lot in this point. You also need to get used to checking back on the project plan and other documentation on a regular basis. Even a week or so in which you don’t notice that a change has happened could prove to be a disaster. Risks which don’t get noticed in time are one of the major problems which you need to look to avoid. You might delegate out a lot of the paperwork to a team member but you still need to assume the responsibility of seeing that it is all kept under control and that nothing slips through the net.
Have Some Fun
I think that just about everyone works better when they enjoy what they are doing and appreciate the company of the people they work with. Adding a bit of fun to the working day is something which you should definitely consider. I remember that in one of my projects one of the guys took the trouble of writing a humorous weekly update complete with drawings of all of us (mine was pretty unflattering if I remember rightly) and all sorts of jokes. A simpler idea is to make sure that everyone in the team is relaxed and looking forward to completing the project. If you have regular team meetings then try to keep them relaxed and informal and your team will see that they can have fun while they work.
Get the Best from Your Team
One of the first things which I would suggest doing is find out the strengths and weaknesses of your team. When you are free of pressure and time restraints it is a great idea to let people learn new skills and gain confidence in them. In fact, this could be one of the most rewarding aspects of your job as a project manager. On the other hand, when you are under more pressure it is far important to know exactly who you can trust to do something well and in the quickest possible time. If you do this then there will be plenty of time in the future to build on the skills your team members already have.
Look Back on Your Results
Learning from past experiences – both positive and negative – is another one of the most essential skills which you will need to use. Not everyone can do this effectively and if you have the habit of blanking out your past results in order to look forward then this is something you need to look at changing. Of course, you need to focus on enjoying the good things you have done as much as learn from the parts of the project which didn’t go so well. If you can do this then you will be in a much better position to look forward to your next assignment with a lot of extra confidence.