The following information is not rocket science nor data-driven formulas. These are little-known ways followed by expert project managers all over the world to complete their projects in a successful manner. Take a look at nine such expert tips that will help you to improve your project performance today.
1. Engage your team on a day-to-day basis: Many project managers engage with their team only when it is needed, mostly during weekly customer status calls. However, the team needs to be engaged regularly, even daily. Engagement can be done by dropping an e-mail asking for the status of the work for the day. If you feel the e-mail process is too slow then creating a private group on any of the social media channels or using any of the project management collaborative tools will be of immense help. This will help you to touch base as a group every day and will keep the team informed on a regular basis.
2. Get in touch with the project client at least 3-4 times a week: In the same way that you keep in touch with your project team on a regular basis, you need to communicate with the project client. If the project is small, one client call in a week to keep them updated may seem adequate. However, if a project is big, highly visible, and experiencing issues, then these project updates should happen at least 3-4 times a week. It is very important to keep the client updated on issues that might have major consequences down the line.
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3. Revising project financials on a weekly basis: Keeping a tab on the project budget is as crucial as ever. A 10% budget overrun may not be a major point of concern, but a 40% overrun would give a project manager something to worry about it. While this may be obvious, something that is not obvious to project managers is the importance of reviewing and revising the project financials on a weekly basis. With this activity, the project manager will be able to figure out budget issues way before they get out of control and damage the project course altogether.
4. Communicate meeting agendas to participants in advance: As a project manager, you may already be doing this activity, but if not, start today. Communicating meeting agendas to participants will help them to know what will be discussed, and in turn they will know what they have to be prepared for. This activity will help to keep the meetings short, crisp and to the point, which will save a lot of time.
5. Do not cancel your meetings: Even if you don’t have anything to say, do not cancel scheduled meetings. It sends out a wrong message to your attendees that you are not an effective planner, and down the line, the attendance to your meetings might drop. When there is nothing to say, just say, “Hi,” go around the room and check for progress in the last week, and ask for updates for the coming week. In those 5-10 minutes, you may not get a significant amount of information, but you are establishing a dialogue with the stakeholders about the project consistency. At the same time it shows that you are not wasting their time.
6. Stop being reasonable with team members: Expect commitment from team members and stop being reasonable with them. If you have requested submission of a report by the end of the day, then that needs to be on your desk by the end of the day. Ensure you call up first thing in the morning to verify that the report will show up on time. If the report is not submitted by the end of the day, then strictness must be shown. Though this may be a tough approach, you will be a lot more successful getting work completed on time. Holding your team members accountable will work only if you show high-level of commitment towards the work that has been assigned to you and your team.
7. Change the attitude from ‘starting’ to ‘do it right away’: This key aspect of time management has a great impact on most projects. The best way to change this attitude and kick start work is to clock yourself when you reach office. How much time does it take you to start your actual project work? Note that arranging your workspace, getting coffee, meeting your friend in another cubicle, discussing yesterday’s game, checking personal emails, visiting news sites and adjusting your window shades, are not categorically called work. Is it 15 minutes? Or is it 30 minutes? If you spend more than 2 minutes to start your work, then it could be that you are wasting time. The math is simple: 15 minutes x 245 work days per year equals to 3675 minutes. 3675 divided by 60 minutes per hour equals to 61 hours per year. If that is the number, then it is close to one and half weeks work that is lost. If it is double the minutes you waste, then it is close to three weeks of work lost. Now, imagine how much of project work you could have completed in those three weeks.
Stop wasting time getting your actual work started by doing it right away. The trick is to keep a couple of hours during the beginning of the day and couple of hours at the end of the day as ‘no interference’ times. That is when the actual work gets done, and you will be more productive. After you have changed your habit, you could teach the same to your team members..
8. Conduct lessons learned session during the middle of the project: Why wait until the completion of the project to conduct lessons learned session? If you wait until the end, there is every chance of losing your team and customer to whatever work they are having next. Get all your stakeholders together 2-3 times while the project is still ongoing, discuss what is going well and what are the issues faced by the team so you can take corrective actions to set it right. It is a win-win situation for both the customer and the team as it builds greater satisfaction and allows mid-project course correction.
9. Ask your CEO to attend the next meeting with the project customer: Ask your CEO or any other C-level executive to your next project status meeting. The project customer will have that extra assurance by seeing the importance given to their project with senior management being involved. You will have a leader amongst you who will be able to help you with issues faced by the project later in the engagement.
As a project manager, you make the call on what works and what won’t. Understand the key aspects concerning customer satisfaction and your team members’ performance, and try to incorporate appropriate measures. These will be effective in helping improve your project and in building a better relationship with the customer and other stakeholders.