Facing a new project for the first time as a project manager must be really intimidating. You have a lot more responsibilities than before, you need to live up to the expectations of your superiors, and you have to ensure everything is finished on time.
Project management is all about the art of collaboration, and if you know how to be a team player, a mediator, and a devoted leader, you will surely execute all your projects successfully. Here are some collaboration tips that you can use if you are a project manager novice.
Do not command, lead and mediate
A project manager carries more responsibility than authority, which is why you cannot simply command your teammates. Your job is to manage different teams who have different tasks, and ensure that every piece of the puzzle fits. Enforcing a decision in favor of a successful project, and seeing to it that everyone is on board is what you have to do.
It is better for everyone to have an insight into the entire project for the sake of better comprehension. Everyone should know their role, and make efforts to deliver their part in sync with other teams. It would be ideal to have a means of online collaboration so that everyone can be contacted more easily, and also to have a place where anyone can use project documentation.
Use project management tools
If you want to have quality collaboration online, then you should use project management software. There are numerous easy to use project management tools, and you can select one with features beneficial for your line of work. Make sure to go with a cloud based solution.
Using best project management software, you can distribute tasks, create project milestones, have a place to brainstorm with co-workers, and safe storage for data. Bear in mind that not all of the tools are user-friendly, so it is wise to go with a free trial and see if your teammates can use the software with ease.
If your project is to be successful, then you must have unobstructed communication with everyone involved in the project. It is imperative that employees understand their role, task, and what is expected from them.
Do not assume that everyone knows what they need to do. You have to check up on each project’s progress in order to make sure. Check if everything is going as planned, and if a team has encountered some difficulties, in other words, if there is going to be any unforeseen delays, you can act accordingly.
Have backup plans
Good collaboration requires you to stay composed and to be prepared if things do not go as planned. So, for the sake of success, you should have backup plans and explain them to everyone so that employees know what to do in case of an emergency.
They should know who to contact someone for clarification, where to go if the office is closed for one reason or another, how to work if they can’t come to work, etc. Also, make a backup file for all your documents, and have one on the hard drive and one uploaded online so that only you or a few others can access it.
Stay within the project scope
You are going to encounter far less problems if you have a well-defined project scope and if you stick to it. You need to go through the project plan with everyone, and state exactly what you as a team will do, and also what you won’t do.
Give everyone time to think and, once the project starts, there should be no alterations, because every change triggers a consequence, and you might not meet the designated deadline, or have enough budget for project completion, etc.
It is important to remember that you are not the employer in this situation, and that your co-workers, might have more experience or a better insight into certain matters than you. It is crucial that you hear everyone out, and accept constructive suggestions. Remember that you are there to manage and oversee, but all of you need to collaborate and work things out together.
Motivate your team
During long projects, it is really important that you maintain the same level of productivity, and this will become more difficult as employees get more tired. You need to inspire a sense of achievement, even if the project is not fully complete. Divide the project into a meaningful milestones, and after each one of them is reached, organize a small celebration.
It is important to mention that you should not only collaborate with your co-workers but also with project stakeholders. Anyone who has an impact or who is influenced by the project’s outcome is a stakeholder, and you need to communicate with them as well.
Learn how to read people
As a project manager, you will have to become more empathetic. Despite the fact that people try to keep things professional, sometimes, their personal problems will interfere with their performance at work.
Moreover, employees might have an argument at work, and the room will be filled with tension. You should make an effort to resolve these disputes and to effectively identify them, in order to prevent anyone from harboring any ill-will towards you or their co-workers.
Identify key roles on the project
In order to effectively maintain the organisation levels, you should identify the so called key players. Pick the most experienced employee from each team that should oversee the project for their part and tell them to notify you in case anything is not going as planned. They should represent their team, and negotiate in their name during the planning phases and during the project briefing process.
These were some of the collaborating tips that you should not shy away from implementing as a new project manager. It may seem like a lot, but gradually, you will adapt and all of this will come natural.