I’ll go over the most crucial abilities that can help you become a better project manager in this article, regardless of the technique, framework, or methodology you use.
While it’s fantastic to learn about the best methods for leading a team and read about them, it’s also important to recognize that there is no single perfect process that can be implemented universally.
The Team, The Team, The Team
Your safe haven is the team. It is critical to build a positive relationship with your team and to improve team communication and spirit.
The team must be a safe haven for all members, a place where they can be themselves.
Whatever decision is taken, the team makes it; whatever feature is produced, the team builds it; and you all accept credit collectively rather than individually.
Stop Searching for a Perfect Process
You can now put an end to your search for the ideal method for your team. There is no such thing as a universal solution.
Throughout their careers, project managers are exposed to a variety of frameworks, methods, and processes.
They chose to use some of the frameworks inside their team to figure out what works best. However, if the team resists the process, it is important not to follow a “one size fits all” model.
Project managers, on the other hand, should customize the process to work with their team. What works for us in terms of team structure, culture, and philosophy is unlikely to work for other groups.
As a result, project managers should continue to experiment with different web development techniques until they find a sweet spot—a combination of practices that works well for the team.
If the team has implemented Scrum but finds that daily meetings are too time-consuming, a meeting bot in Slack might be used to arrange calls only when necessary.
Sprint reviews can be approached in the same way—if team members find them ineffective, managers might decide to schedule reviews based on the team’s needs.
It is essential to understand that we are not the guardians of Scrum, Kanban, or other frameworks, and they are only there to assist the team to seek productivity and motivation.
Having Many Hands to Complete Many Tasks
Communication is crucial when it comes to project stakeholders. Whether you like it or not, a project manager must be included in all project communications.
Managers can become overwhelmed by the volume of messages and tasks, but that is the role for which they were hired.
Experienced project managers have mastered the art of scanning messages fast and determining what requires their immediate attention.
It may require more effort at first, but the idea is to keep yourself from becoming bogged down in the specifics, such as lengthy technical debates if they aren’t beneficial to the project.
Instead, the project manager can schedule a team call to find a solution to save time and avoid back-and-forth messaging. A 15-minute phone call can frequently replace hours of ineffective written communication.
The project manager should be the single point of contact for all stakeholders. The project manager’s essential role is to prioritize and delegate responsibilities in order to keep the project on track.
Many managers prefer to complete tasks themselves to ensure that all requirements are met, but this can cause them to lose focus on the important things in the long run.
Delegate everything that can be delegated. You can still do the tasks that normally require the project manager’s attention; for example, I do some QA for important features and tasks, but I never get too involved in the assignments of other team members.
Trust Estimates by Default, Then Measure and Discuss
A project manager must have faith in the task estimates provided by their team members. When estimating tasks, you must consider people’s diverse experiences and backgrounds.
If a project manager wants to discuss and argue about an estimate, they must provide data to back up their claims and be clear about what they want to achieve.
Transparency and Control of Sensitive Information
Project managers serve as the link between business and technology, and they frequently have knowledge from both.
Aside from seeing the big picture, they must also deal with some risks, such as handling sensitive information.
It is critical to walk the fine line between being a transparent leader and properly handling confidential information.
Even in organizations where project managers are not considered top management, they have access to a great deal of confidential information.
They are sometimes not told what information is confidential and must deduce it for themselves. The ultimate goal is not to withhold information from the team, and all information relevant to project delivery must be made available to everyone on the team.
Still, some of it should be kept private for a variety of reasons, including the risk of undermining team morale or sparking unnecessary squabbles.
For example, if the company is about to sign a big deal with investors, it can either announce the news to the entire team or keep it to a small group of people until the deal is finalised.
The second option is preferable because the transaction can go sideways at any time, and if the team’s expectations are not met, it can decrease motivation.
There are several reasons to strive for maximum transparency. For starters, keeping others in the loop reduces the possibility of missing something important.
Because there are so many discussions within the project, it is not uncommon for managers to misplace information or simply forget to respond.
Second, with more people in the loop, there is less need to repeat information to different team members because they are already aware of it.
Flag Risks Early
A project manager must develop a systematic approach to removing roadblocks so that team members can complete all project tasks.
If managers do not address blockers after sprints, many items in the backlog may become blocked. There is a tendency to remove blockers from only the most important tasks; however, this can lead to disaster if a large number of mutually dependent tasks are blocked.
It’s a good idea to make a list of action items devoted solely to removing roadblocks and go over each one with the designated stakeholder.
It is also critical to properly connect the tasks so that everyone is aware of which high-priority tasks will be blocked due to blockers at lower levels.
Finally, project managers are left with two options. To begin, they can keep their own list of to-dos with their priorities focused on removing roadblocks.
Second, they can add more details to the tasks and thoroughly connect them by adding dependencies that keep blockers aligned across all connected tasks.
The second option becomes overly complex, especially on large projects; managers frequently end up doing both in order to keep the work moving and remove roadblocks on time.
From Setbacks and Tough Times to Small Wins
If a deadline is unavoidably missed, the project manager should not become enraged with the team. These are the times when motivation boosters, not blame, are required.
Step up and be a leader; if necessary, accept responsibility and motivate the team to overcome and deliver the functionality to the best of your ability.
Schedule a review to determine what went wrong and how your team can work together more effectively in the future to avoid similar setbacks.
It’s also important to celebrate small victories together. Schedule a brief meeting to congratulate the team, for example, when results are delivered within the approved timeline. Small victories added together lead to overall project success.
One of the most important habits for any project manager is consistent documentation. Meeting management, in my experience, is frequently underestimated, and as a result, I have wasted many hours during my project management career. Preparation is essential for any successful meeting, and it only takes about five minutes:
- Create the agenda and select the necessary participants.
- Make certain that all participants have been invited.
- Send the agenda to participants and follow up with them to see if anything else needs to be discussed.
- Check to see if the link to your virtual meeting was sent.
When the meeting starts:
- Join a few minutes early, greet everyone, and then dive right into the agenda after a brief period of small talk.
- Keep notes during the meeting, write down all action items, check for any questions after you have completed the agenda, and close the meeting.
- After the meeting, immediately share the meeting notes and action items with the team.
In my experience, a 15-minute meeting is often more productive than a one- or two-hour meeting because everyone stays on track and you can keep participants from deviating from the agenda unless there is something important to discuss.
Here are a few time-saving bonus tips:
- Create a meeting note template.
- Send recurring invitations whenever possible.
- Create templates for action items that need to be followed up on.
- Make a note to remind yourself to send the follow-up emails.
The Right Tools Make the Difference
Choosing the appropriate software tools is an important aspect of project management. It is common for project managers to become involved in discussions about which tools the team should use.
Depending on the team’s understanding of what they want to achieve with a particular tool, such discussions can be either time-wasting or productive. When deciding on the best tools, keep the following factors in mind:
- Size of the team
- Team composition
- Project methodology or framework
- How much detail the report should include
Adjusting Is the Key
Frameworks, processes, and tools must be adjusted to meet the needs and pain points of the team, not the other way around.
As you gain experience, you accumulate a slew of tools and methodologies that you like, dislike, use sparingly, or have abandoned.
With each passing year, new ones emerge, and some of the older ones become obsolete. However, the skills you develop as a leader will allow you to make the most of any framework.