Leading successful projects is multifaceted. To ensure timely and efficient project completion, there must be an understanding of how to effectively lead. Often scoping more than one department, project management requires soft skills like excellent communication in addition to hard skills, such as organization and schedule implementation. Taking from our experience as project leaders, we’ve compiled a few tips to help you on your next project.
1. Planning for People
Most project managers are familiar with the logistical side of executing a project like planning the most effective steps to prevent bottlenecking, implementing the right resources at the right time, etc. However, what we’ve found especially in a post-pandemic world, is the need to plan for people. What we mean is that having a plan goes beyond the numbers and dates. You must also prioritize the mental well-being of your team.
When there is no definitive plan, things often get forgotten. This includes communicating plans and changes to the team. When fellow members of a project feel left out, it can stir feelings of insecurity and anxiety. To mitigate these negative emotions, project managers should plan to involve team members in the workings of the project. Set aside time for weekly and/or bi-monthly meetings to update all members on a project. Keep in mind that these meetings do not have to disclose every minute detail. Instead, it’s an opportunity to check in with the team and maintain mental stamina throughout the project.
2. Attitude Reflects Leadership
Leading a successful project depends considerably on attitude. Both stakeholders and project managers must be considerate of their attitudes during the project. If the behavior and demeanor of the leaders reflect that of failure, then the team will most definitely reflect those feelings. Work effort decreases and focus wanes. There can be a sense of “Why am I doing this if my leader doesn’t believe it can be done?” among the team.
This emotional sway to fail has serious implications to the project as a whole. However, if leaders provide encouragement and communicate excitement about the project, the team will emulate those affirmations through diligent action to complete the project successfully. In addition, this kind of positive work environment gives permission to the team to be more creative and think outside the box.
3. The Not-So-Secret Ingredient
One of the most important aspects of a successful project is the ability for a team to work together. When project members are not acting as a team, it negatively affects the project outcome. When communication falls apart, issues aren’t resolved in a timely manner. This can lead to the team becoming blind to what resources are needed to accomplish the project.
On the flip side, when teamwork is functioning cohesively, team members will look outside of their own needs and offer support in areas where resources or skills may be lacking. Fostering this kind of teamwork can advance deadlines and save money along the way. People thrive on encouragement, so being generous with it in the workplace is what we find to be the (not so) secret ingredient to increase productivity and success.
4. Getting Back on Track
Projects are always at risk of slipping off the planned course. Scheduling issues, resource shortages and miscommunication with third-party vendors are all possible setbacks. If and when a project begins to derail, it’s critical to evaluate where the breakdown has taken place.
This is where check-in meetings become an invaluable asset. These meetings don’t have to be long, drawn-out conversations, though there may be times when that’s appropriate. Small meetings or “touchpoints” with your team are often sufficient to ensure smooth communication. Providing these status updates will help all components of the project to continue moving as a collective unit.
Leading successful projects doesn’t have to be difficult to achieve. By thinking about team members as people in tandem with the resources they provide, project managers can enhance the productivity and efficiency of the project as a whole. By planning for people, project managers add emotional and social currency to the project and increase success rates. Through communication, courtesy and mindfulness, leading successful projects can become a regular and enjoyable occurrence in the workplace. You’ve got this.