As project managers, we are often tasked with taking the pulse of our projects. We need to know what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and who needs to do it. But in doing that, we also need to step back and remember that there is more going on than just work. We have many of the same challenges as you. As a project manager, here are some general things I want my project team members to know so we can work more productively together.
You're Human, and Project Managers are Human Too
Like you, project managers make mistakes, have bad and good days—and sometimes have bad ideas alongside the good ones. Project managers are often underappreciated for their efforts; some get treated like glorified secretaries who should be grateful to do what they do without any reward for their hard work.
Project managers are people with feelings, families, and pets like you. We work long hours because we care about our work and want you and our projects to succeed. Outside of work, many of our issues are just like yours. Keep this in mind as we work together.
There is No Such Thing as Perfection
There is no such thing as perfection in project management. But quality work to the best of your ability is always expected. The pursuit of perfection can be expensive in terms of budget and schedule. So, if you find yourself getting caught up in achieving perfection or analysis paralysis, consult with your project manager. We will be happy to help you understand the limitations and expectations.
Good Project Managers Know What They Don't Know
This is a lesson that every new project manager will learn eventually. Still, it can be known early if you're willing to listen: good project managers have to be able to keep an open mind and learn from the experiences of others. Being able to admit when you don't know something is one of the essential skills for a productive team or organization. Project managers who refuse to accept their ignorance are destined for failure—and so are their projects!
The benefits of knowing what you don't know are plentiful: better collaboration with your team members, greater productivity, more confidence in yourself as a leader...the list goes on! This knowledge will make your life easier as a project manager and allow you more time on other essential tasks related to your role.
Why does your project manager want you to know this? It’s because we look to you, the project team members, to be the experts on the project. We’re here to support you in achieving success and seek your help solving problems.
I Care About Your Success
You need to know that your project manager does care about your success. That's why we offer a variety of tools and resources to help you be successful in the work you do. We also encourage our team members to give presentations on best practices, especially if they have unique experiences or expertise that may benefit others working on similar projects.
The project manager is the voice of the customer, which means they should know precisely what is needed for the project—and they should advocate getting it! A good project manager removes roadblocks so everyone involved focuses more on providing value to customers and less time navigating bureaucracy or other barriers blocking them.
We Need to All Communicate Consistently
Communication is one of the most critical ingredients in project management. To manage a project effectively, you need to communicate clearly with your teammates and me, the project manager, about what’s going on and what needs to happen. You also need to be able to hear feedback from them so that you can adapt your approach as needed.
In addition, if you have a project manager who wants weekly updates about how things are going, it will help them feel more comfortable with what's happening on the project and keep them from worrying too much about things not getting done correctly or quickly enough.
The critical point here isn't just knowing how often someone wants updates; it's having an open line of communication where both sides feel comfortable giving honest and constructive feedback without fear of being judged negatively. We should all be able to share ideas openly without feeling like we're stepping over boundaries.
Be a Problem Solver
The first thing to do is to define the problem. Your project manager wants you to start by identifying the issue at hand, which means you need to be specific about the issue you're bringing forward. Suppose you’re not receiving the resource you expected. It’s not enough to say, "we're not getting Resource X." Provide some context and identify any potential causes or effects of this situation. If possible, suggest some solutions. This will help them to begin to think of potential solutions. Remember: if the problem is unclear, no one will know how best they can help solve it!
Second, set goals before beginning work on solutions. When working with clients or managers trying new things, please don't assume they'll have everything figured out immediately. Be prepared with suggestions and be ready to discuss solutions, but don’t over-commit yourself by offering them all at once. Wait until questions arise about specific parts of your proposed plan before making more detailed suggestions on how those pieces might fit into place.
We're All on the Same Team
Being a project manager can be challenging. Many challenges come with the job, including communicating with team members. We can all be more effective communicators if we understand each other's needs and expectations.
We're all on the same team. You may feel like you compete with other groups on your team or other teams within your organization—but remember that we all want to succeed. Your project manager is there to help you do that!
Teamwork is important! If you have an issue with another person on your team, let them know how they can be more helpful or less distracting than they are now. And if someone else has an issue with you, talk it out before it worsens. Don't let pride get in the way of ensuring everyone succeeds at their job; good teamwork will always win!
This article has helped you understand some of the challenges project managers face and some ways to improve your relationship with them. If you are a project manager and want to share more about what you want your team to know, please let us know in the comments below.
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