10 Things Each PM Should Know

Top 10 things each project manager should know.
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  Top 10 things each Project Manager should know / do By Vijayalakshmi Muthukrishnan, PMP  The term and the title “Project Manager” generally refers to anyone who is given responsibility to deliver a project on time, within budget and scope, and at the correct performance level. The best Project Managers are those who constantly deliver on time and within budget and also they’ll meet or exceed stakeholder’s expectation. Every Project Manager has to deal with different targets, different environments and last but not least with different people. Hence only the Know-how and Do-how will transform a Project Manager into an excellent Project Manager. So when you think, what soft skills are required for an excellent Project Manager; an excellent Project Manager will not have one speci fic quality, rather he / she’ll have a collection of qualities that needs to be balanced to meet the needs of the project. Also, there is no specific order to these qualities; they all play an important role. In this article, I’ve given the top 10 qualitie s that are required for a successful project manager from my perspective and experience. 1.   Inspire a Shared Vision  Let me ask few questions here. What makes one team more productive than another? What is it that pulls a team together enabling the members to work together more effectively? The answer is very simple. Like any good partnership, a key ingredient of successful team work is having a shared vision, of mutually creating an image of an ideal future. There is a famous quote, “Vision without acti on is a daydream and action without vision is nightmare”. Here I’m referring  about the latter part of the quote. As an effective project leader, you should have a vision of where to go and the ability to articulate it; so that team understands on what need s to be achieved and how it’ll be achieved at a high level.  It is easy to get confuse a vision with a goal. Vision involves big picture, the overall aim of the project. Goal on the other hand is more specific, measurable and time bound. There are many ways to achieve a goal. Choose the best one based on your experience and stick to it. Setting the appropriate tone in the beginning will allow for smoother sailing down the road and have a successful delivery. To summarize, when team members share a similar vision, they feel vested to deliver their best.    2.   Good Communicator Communication skills are very important for the growth of a manager’s career. If you see, most of a manager's time is spent in communicating and attending meetings. When communication is used so frequently, we cannot afford to do it poor. Being a manager, we handle different projects and interact with people at all levels. As each project is different and each person is different, the approach will have to vary to ensure you get the best out of that person in any given situation. For some people in your team, you need to just tell the task and the deadline, however some people need to be reminded on a daily basis on what they are supposed to deliver, some people do not talk about issues that they are facing unless you go and dig it. The key is that a great project manager will instinctively know how to balance a situation and will do whatever it takes to get the job done and deliver the project successfully.   Managers are expected to be effective communicators, presenters, facilitator, and leaders. Communication is an important part to each of these areas and is one of the best skills to have to climb the corporate ladder. Let me share few Tips to be a Good Communicator 1.   Speak to your team (Should make regular interaction with team members)  2.   Increase the listening skills 3.   Master the art of writing emails 4.   Master Verbal and Non Verbal communication skills 5.   Be proactive in your communication 6.   Keep communications positive To summarize, the art of communication is the language of leadership. As a manager, you should know when you need to be open and honest and when to employ diplomacy.    3.   Be Strong on Fundamentals As an efficient Project Manager, you should abide by a set of Project management fundamentals. Getting ourselves strong on project management fundamentals is very essential. Some pick it up thru formal training courses while others through their own learning and reading and few thru on-the-job training. I would say we need to get specialized in project management as a profession, by gathering experience, as well as thru gaining knowledge and contacts. Joining a group specific to project management, such as PMI®, PM Podcast will put us in touch with many others in our profession, and keep us up-to-date on issues and developments. The payback is not measured in terms of days but in terms of years. Over time, we will find that we have more experience, more fundamental knowledge, more contacts, and more successes than our peers. 4.   Prioritize The modern day problem that we all have as soon as you enter office and open your laptop is E-mail fixation. This distracts you from doing the tasks you need or plan to. Creating to-do list and prioritizing them keeps you focused on achieving your objectives. Scratching tasks from your list creates a real sense of achievement and drives further activity. Prioritization of tasks not only helps you improve your time management and reduce stress, but it will also help you achieve your more important goals. You can use the below Prioritization matrix which will assist you greatly.    N   o   t   I   m   p   o   r   t   a   n   t Delegate  (Eg. Phone Calls, Emails) Postpone  or Dump (Eg. Unnecessary Browsing)    I   m   p   o   r   t   a   n   t Do Right away  (Eg. Deliverables) Plan to Do  (Eg. Relationship building, Vacation Planning) Urgent Not Urgent The Quadrant II (Important and Not Urgent) is where you should be focusing most of your energy.   I would like to share few tips for prioritizing 1.   Create the To-Do list on daily basis 2.   Assess the value (e.g. Client work takes more priority than internal work) 3.   Be flexible to changing priorities 4.   Enforce strict deadlines (spending too much time on one priority will prevent you from getting other stuff knocked off from your list) To Summarize  –  Just the act of prioritizing and managing will increase the project success. 5.   Delegate This is another interesting skill. A project that seems overwhelming on the surface is suddenly quite manageable when you divide it up among your team. When you delegate work to your team, you multiply the amount of work that you can do. Delegation is a two-way street. Meant to develop the PM as well as the person PM works with. PM has to get expertise in delegating work to his team members. Do not delegate  just because the work that you were doing was boring or you want to get rid of it. Many people are afraid of delegation. They fear, if they delegate, the work will not be accomplished. Deadlines won’t be met. The Delegation matrix will assist you in selecting the right resource and delegating the tasks appropriately.    H   i   g    h   W   i    l    l Guide Delegate    L   o   w   W   i    l    l Direct Motivate Low Skill High Skill Delegate  –  This is the right resource having the skill and will. You can directly delegate the work. Guide  –  You need to mentor this resource, so that he gets the right skill to perform the task. Motivate  –  You need to identify the reason for Low Will (whether it is due to the task or personal factors or any other factor) and motivate the resource so that he understands and takes up the task. Direct  –  You need to identify the reason for Low Will and also get him some training, mentor him to get his skill set improved. Once this is done, he will be all set to take up the task.
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