Communication is one of the most important project management skills. But it’s also too frequently neglected. Research shows that poor communication is responsible for 57% of project failures.
Not every member of your team will be a master communicator. But the project manager must prioritize this process — and it is a process — in order to lead their team to success. Every email, every meeting, and every check-in must convey purpose and produce real results. Each piece of communication needs to be well-thought-out.
The project manager must also devise methodologies and select platforms for facilitating smooth communication between team members, clients, and other stakeholders. And they must serve as the point person for concerns, questions, and any issues that arise.
Leverage the skills of their team members
Great project managers know what each of their team members brings to the project — they may have even had a hand in selecting them for the initiative in the first place. From the beginning, they will take stock of each of the qualities and capabilities employees bring to the table, and they will incorporate them into the process, understanding where and when to leverage them.
Along with this, they know when it’s time to delegate and who is the best person for each role and task.
Because they recognize the skills their team members have, great project managers understand that they should listen to professionals, who each offer unique perspectives. This is part of solid communication — being able to see and hear team members. They may have revolutionary ideas and suggestions. Even if the project manager doesn’t agree with something a professional on the team has to say, they must have the willingness to listen, acknowledge, and explore.
Every project worth its salt involves risks. A project manager must get into the habit of being able to predict the various threats and obstacles they could encounter along the way to completing the project. There should be very little in way of the unexpected.
By assessing and anticipating risks, you will be better equipped to manage and tackle the challenges that may come your way. Establish a plan for addressing the risks you’re projecting so you’re well-prepared.
Follow a specific methodology
There are hundreds of project management methodologies to choose from. Each comes with its own benefits and drawbacks and is more suitable for some projects, businesses, and industries than others.
One of your tasks as a project manager is to select the methodology that is most appropriate for your team, after conducting research to determine the best fit. You will probably need to adapt it to fit your specific expertise and niche, but the methodology should serve as an outline to follow.
Know when to say “no.” This may not seem like such a revolutionary skill, but you’d be surprised at how many project managers — even extraordinarily talented ones — have trouble mastering it. And it’s critical for establishing boundaries for you and your project. It’s a sign of respect for your busy team members, who are looking to you to keep the project flowing and manage client expectations.
For example, one frequent problem teams encounter is scope creep. This is when requirements become unmanageable, extending beyond the previously established scope of the project. But when project managers set proper limits, they will keep scope creep at bay.
Everything depends on qualitative and quantitative data. No project manager should be going into a new undertaking blind — they should have the numbers and information to back up the initiative. They will look at the data they’ve gleaned from previous projects and about their day-to-day strategies and workflows. They will always debrief, looking at the analytics to assess how things went.
Fortunately, today, there are many project management tools that offer a huge amount of data via dashboards, visualizations, and reporting. Project managers should use it to assess performance, hiccups, and individual contributions.
Ultimately, the project manager is responsible for the initiative from start to finish. And because parts are constantly moving and changing, it is extremely important to keep careful track of your processes, procedures, steps, roles, and other pieces that contribute to making the project come together.
By documenting everything that goes into the project, you are also creating a blueprint to consult and follow for future undertakings.
Foster continuous improvement
Finally, a superior project manager knows that no project is completely successful, nor is it ultimately complete. They understand that they need to always have an eye on improvement, no matter how well the last project went.
Fostering a culture of continuous improvement requires adopting a forward-thinking mindset for both you and your team. It ensures that you are continuing to learn, grow, and evolve as a team and as an organization. It also means you’re never standing still — you’re seizing opportunities, tackling obstacles, and thriving as a business.