7 Ways to Be a Better Project Manager When You Aren’t One

Source: http://quickbase.intuit.com/blog/2013/10/03/7-ways-to-be-a-better-project-manager-when-you-arent-one/

Whether you have the title of Project Manager or not, it is vital for you to adopt certain principles if you want to thrive in the work place. This article describes how the rapid increase in the use of online social media and tools has transformed the work place into a much more collaborative environment. This collaborative environment requires employees to act like a project manager by proxy. I was drawn to this article because although I am not a project manager per se, I recognize the importance of having the skill set that a good project manager has.

The first way to become a better project is to be “Mr. or Mrs. Fix It” when encountering a problem. Heading up the most pressing issues can inspire a team and increase their level in confidence in you as a leader. I have always believed that it is best to nip something in bud as soon as it arises, but I think it is also important to approach problems tactfully. 

The article next talks about the importance of having a thorough understanding of what the project is. Personally, I have a hard time with the planning part of a project. As soon I think that I might understand what is being asked of me, I tend to jump right into it and fix my mistakes as I go that otherwise could have been avoided if I spent more time planning. Do you put a greater emphasis on the planning or action phase of a project?

The author next talks about how easy being compulsively organized has become through the use of collaboration software. I use google docs all the time for group projects and the like, and I could not agree more. Everyone being able to collaborate in one place with collaboration softwares has made staying organized and on-task easier than ever. Do you believe in the power of face-to-face meetings or is online collaboration something you would prefer? Why?

Not letting your team coast is the next way to improve your project management skills. The author argues that the project manager should not only focus on team members strongest areas, but areas with room for development. Having to learn and research as you go can inspire innovation and a new/better way to do something.

The importance of being assertive goes hand-in-hand with being Mr. or Mrs. Fix It. If there is an issue or you’re not satisfied with someones performance, addressing the matter right away is the best way to handle it. Give a clear explanation of what you want from them when you approach them.

I think many people confuse an assertive manager with one who is trying to micromanage. An effective manager will be assertive when approaching someone, but will help them correct the issue. This will usually give them ability to work autonomously for the remainder of the task at hand. I have worked for people who like to micromanage because they believe it limits room for error. I disagree and believe that mistakes are a good thing that provide a learning opportunity. Do you prefer to be micro or macro managed?

Perhaps the best way to improve your management skills is to “always have their back”. Do your best to encourage ingenuity and make it clear that mistakes are hardly ever a bad thing. To quote the great Bruce Lee, “the master has failed more times than the beginner has ever tried”. What are your thoughts on the importance of mistakes and how to approach them as a project manager?





4 thoughts on “7 Ways to Be a Better Project Manager When You Aren’t One

  1. I agree with you 100%. Mistakes happen and no one screws up intentionally. When an employee makes a mistake, it’s safe to assume that he realizes that himself, so there’s no need to rub salt on the wound(unless it happens on regular basis). At this point the important part is figuring out how to deal with the issue. An employee should understand that it is his responsibility to correct the problem and that management is there to guide him through it. “Guiding” is the key concept here, because managers should not fix problems for their employees. This way a “learning process” is not eliminates and employee is unlikely to make the same mistake again.

  2. After reading this post, I got a better understanding on how to become a better project manager. I liked the fact you said: “Not letting your team coast is the next way to improve your project management skills.” Many times project managers want to be done with the project as soon as possible and do not really think about the team members. Making an opportunity for them to grow is one of the skills I admire the most from good project managers. Nowadays, everything gets easier thanks to technology, as project managers can easily reach to the team members. Great post!

  3. Just like you, I find myself putting a greater emphasis on the action phase of a project. I believe that a macro-management style approach without a strict plan allows more room for inspiration and creativity, and this degree of freedom largely contributes to the overall enthusiasm of the team. I also think how a team should collaborate depends on the decision or task at hand. There are certain projects that can utilize collaborative software; however, undoubtedly, face-to-face interaction is appropriate for more important decisions. I completely agree that mistakes are an important learning tool when corrected appropriately. Like Laurynas stated, the most important part of a mistake is for the employee to be guided in the right direction rather than have the problem solved for them.

  4. The truth is when a person makes a mistake, it is just that, a mistake. A good manager will most definitely point it out, but also point out how to improve on it, and how to do a better job next time. A manager that just points out your mistakes is not a good manager, and shouldn’t be one. Managers are there to guide you, and help you get to the end. They can’t do this by just pointing out your mistakes, they must also help you fix it.

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