Approaching project management as a job can only get you so far. It calls for a lot more – almost the Zen ability to get into people’s heads, master efficiency, and to make productivity a habit.
Management is hard. But it can be mastered like any other skill. To manage projects well, you not only need experience and management skills but also great communication skills, patience, a way to get through to people, and exemplary leadership qualities.
You’d also have to learn to read between the lines, be intuitive, think on your feet, and deal with nuances that most people overlook. Handling projects well calls for a lot more than what most people can imagine.
Here are a few mind hacks to make sure you give your best when handling projects:
It’s amazing how little we know about ourselves. That also includes many things that we are capable of, but we aren’t aware of it yet. Project management is a semi pitch-black tunnel with a bunch of known entities and another bunch of unknowns.
If you want to manage projects well, you can consider taking up a course or getting trained (again, if you have to). According to Business Improvement Architects, a survey reveals that training was on top priority with more than 54% of managers voting for its importance. Other skills in demand for getting trained on were communication and coaching skills (34%).
On your own, brush up on theories of management, take up courses that you think you’d need to, and mentally prepare to work with those unknowns.
Get to know your team well
Before starting any projects, get your team members to introduce themselves. If you are managing a team onsite, make sure they meet and exchange pleasantries. If possible, take them through team building activities, icebreakers, and a few such onboarding sessions to help them get to know each other.
No project is ever complete without a cohesive team, and no team is cohesive if they don’t get to know each other. If you believe that time is of the essence once the project kicks off, work backwards and help your team members familiarize themselves even before the project starts.
Eilene Zimmerman of NYtimes.com has a few tips handy: get to know your team first few days as a manager and set up time to meet them individually. Ask them for their short-term and long-term aspirations. She alludes to a tip from Simon Sinek: change your mindset. Instead of thinking as doing a job, think of it as a way to help others do their job.
Change your mindset
Although writing from the perspective of the design process, Creative HQ refers to Andy Rutledge’s article on project management. It has a few points that project managers need to work on with respect to mindset: rushing into processes and execution is usually a flaw.
Get away from creating unnecessary soft-deadlines, premature requests to see work in progress, and pushing deadlines away. They are all ways to ruin the project. You’ll also need to learn all about scheduling, working backwards to plan deliveries, forming the bridge of communication between clients and your team, and a lot more.
The change in mindset is heavy on demand with respect to your decision-making styles, your delegation capabilities, your communication flow, etc.
How prepared are you?
Develop a productivity system
Start with an intensive self-introspection of how you spend your time at work. If you document how you manage to get a lot of work done in a short span of time, it’s priceless for your team.
Develop a system to cut out the learning curve for your team. Figure out how to achieve milestones before deadlines. Design workflows, flowcharts, and shortcuts to any process that would otherwise take a long time. If a process is iterative or mundane, find out a way to automate or at least semi-automate it.
That’s how managers provide value to teamwork. This is how some project managers turn out to be efficient and resourceful. It’s one of the few ways project managers can provide value to an organization.
Account for difficult people
Usually, projects cause much less stress than difficult people you might have to deal with. Now, these difficult people could be anywhere – they could be your boss, among your team, or maybe the clients. Yet, you’d have to prepare to deal with them. According to Harvard team, give feedback to people with whom you find it difficult to deal.
Focus on the work and disregard the person. Ask for commitment in writing. Keep your composure and practice picking up on the art of patience. We know it’s difficult but try to hear the person out. Try to propose solutions to the problem at hand.
Above all, here’s the major mind hack you’d have to practice: get tough and stop being nice. Work rarely happens if you go soft on your team. Managing teams usually draws on a fine line between caring and getting things done by pushing the individuals in your team.
Successful project management, as you can see, depends on a lot more than just a job description, a team, a job description, and a clutch of deadlines.
How do you manage your projects? What are some of the challenges you face when you have to get things done? Would you like to tell us about a few mind hacks you employed that worked for you?