What is the difference between a good project manager and a great project manager? Here are 5 ways to improve your project management skills.
1. Actively listen
Being an active listener is one of the main components of a great leader. It means tuning out the world around you and focusing on being present in the moment as you listen to a suggestion, complaint or comment. Most people will tell you that they are great listeners, but as a project manager, you need to show off your best active listening skills.
Active listeners combine what a person is actually saying together with what their body language is saying. If one of your team members comes to speak with you, pay attention to how they are standing and where they are looking. Are they meeting your gaze? Are their arms crossed?
Do not let other distractions enter your mind when you are listening. Block out any environmental factors going on, and do not use the time your employee is speaking to formulate your response. Once your employee is done speaking, rephrase what he or she just said to show you were listening and that you two are on the same page. Use phrases like, “What I am hearing…” and “It sounds like you are saying…”
What active listening boils down to is simply paying attention. You are paying attention to not only what your employees say, but also what your customer wants and what your employees can do to make that happen.
2. Master your project manager tool
Every company has their own method of tracking their projects, and it usually involves a certain type of software. Your employees depend on this information and often see it as a lifeline. You’re probably already know how to use your project management tool fairly well, but there is always room for improvement, right?
There are probably functions within your project management tool that you have never used before. Learn these. Maybe you will use them. Maybe you will not. You never know when you might need these tools, and your bosses will be impressed with your extensive knowledge.
Seek out help if you need it. Look up tutorials online to learn more about features you rarely use and ask questions on forums if you can.
3. Improve your balancing act
When you are assigned a project, you have a team, a budget and a deadline. Your overall goal is simple: complete the project using these resources within this time period and within this budget. Now you must weigh the scales and decide who is doing what and where your budget goes.
Balancing a budget and project resources takes time and practice. Open a document or spreadsheet and list out what is needed to complete the project. Seeing everything before you will better help you visualise your goal.
When planning for your budget, try to plan a little lower at first. This will give you some wiggle room in case you find that you need more. List out each item you need and its cost. Always feel free to shop around and see if you can find the best deals on office equipment, software and advertising space, but be careful not to sacrifice quality for price.
Using your project management tools, set the project up and make sure everyone can see objectives and steps in the process. Each team member should be able to look up his or her own tasks to complete and have access to any useful documents or data. They should also be posting updates and informing you of any costs they incur.
4. Teach your team
A project manner is only as good as his or her team. If your team does not have the skills necessary to complete a project, there is no way you will have everything done correctly and on time.
If you have the ability, try to search for classes, seminars and webinars in the area and online that will be beneficial to your team members. This could be a class on creating responsive websites or an online tutorial showing how to use a specific feature of your project management tool.
You could also hold meetings and tutorials yourself if you feel you have the skill set. Sitting down with your team and allowing them all the time needed to ask questions about a project management tool or how to understand analytics can make your team even stronger.
5. Seek feedback
Receiving meaningful feedback and constructive criticism is one the best way to improve your project managing skills. Ask your supervisors, ask your employees, ask your colleagues and ask your customers. All of them will have differing opinions that you can then use to better your performance for next time.
Choose to ask those who will give you honest feedback, and do not be afraid of criticism. Use it to better your performance the next time around. If someone does give you negative feedback, do not dismiss it, but be sure it is coming from a good source.
It is no secret that project managers are in high demand. By improving your skills, you can empower your team to achieve greater heights and become a necessary asset to your company. It all starts with you.