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?