What makes one an excellent project manager? Organizations seldom finish projects before the deadline or within a budget. In the 1990s, Hammer and Champy reported that 70% of projects weren’t successful, and these staggering statistics have remained unchanged. Even well-qualified individuals sometimes fail to deliver the expected results. So, which qualities mark a productive project manager? Tasks, timings, and practical expertise are essential in project management. But “soft skills” are what people often lack.
According to PMI’s 2018 survey, around 51% of respondents agree that soft skills have become more important for project managers than technical abilities. These capabilities allow you to motivate people while making your team feel valued and trusted. Encouragement, therefore, creates strong connections between departments and increases your organization’s overall productivity. So, how to improve skills that ensure your team completes projects on time? Here’s how you can become a better manager:
- Communicate properly
Polish your communication skills if you wish to become an effective project manager. In 2013, PMI revealed that two in five projects – on average – don’t meet their initial objectives solely because of ineffective communication. So, as a manager, you must create effective channels for communication since it will help you share your plans with team members effortlessly. You can send weekly emails to every employee or discuss issues during an in-person roundtable. And you should be an active listener.
- Educate yourself
You can also self-teach the science behind project management from the comfort of your personal space. Distance learning dominates today’s educational landscape, and students now increasingly depend upon these digital channels to upskill and educate themselves. Study material is provided to participants digitally, which allows them to continue studying at their pace. Now, you can enroll in a practical project management online program to enhance your leadership and managerial skills and become a successful project manager. These courses enable managers to improve their communication capabilities and engage effectively with team members. In return, these abilities help you complete projects on time and increase your company’s productivity.
- Listen to relevant stakeholders
Active listening constitutes an integral component of effective project management. Unfortunately, just 29% of employees believe that their leaders always respond to them without discrimination. An excellent manager must – therefore – listen to a worker’s comments, complaints, and suggestions.
You should attentively listen to your employees’ suggestions and then respond appropriately to what you have heard. Express your interest in these problems through your body language. Also, don’t formulate a response while someone’s speaking. Then you can answer by using calculated phrases/sentences.
- Ask for feedback
The best managers always ask for feedback from employees. Asking for feedback doesn’t demonstrate weakness or self-doubt. Instead, it shows your willingness to include everyone in the decision-making progress while completing a project. This practice helps you avoid bad decisions and harmful policy-making. Consequently, you become an effective project manager.
A manager must habitually and frequently ask for feedback. It’s a strategic method to identify which techniques are working for your team members. Whenever you delegate new responsibilities/tasks or deploy a brand-new project management software, ensure that you record your teammates’ feedback. Implementing feedback will make your workers more productive and ascertain quick finalization of the project within its deadline.
- Hold regular meetings
What’s the primary reason behind the failure of most projects? PMI’s 2017 survey shows that some 37% of projects are unsuccessful because they lack clear goals. Thus, project managers should explain the project’s objectives to all team members. Hold daily/weekly meetings regularly where you can share your expectations with teammates. They can discuss the reasons behind their shortcomings with you and why they don’t feel motivated. These meetings allow project managers to monitor progress, which is crucial to ensure everything stays on track.
- Manage your time
Project managers often neglect honing their time management skills. Wasting your resources merely hinders your productivity, and time constitutes a necessary (but limited) resource. It’s common for employees to squander several hours per week texting, checking emails, or calling their buddies. If 2014 statistics were believable, almost 89% of employees who took part in a survey accept wasting a part of their time at work. Project managers – therefore – must allocate time to each task in the project. Have a sit-in with the team to debate how much time each portion of the project requires. Then assign fixed hours/days and don’t allow these estimates to deviate excessively. Ensure that your teammates complete tasks before their deadlines.
- Address problems early
Conflicts will inevitably emerge among colleagues while they’re working on the same project. Many factors contribute to the occurrence of disagreements, including needs, attitudes, personalities, and expectations. A project manager must have the right skills to resolve these conflicts and boost the team’s productivity. Managers often spend 30-42 percent of their time reaching agreements after a conflict arises. If ineffectively managed, conflicts can harm your entire project.
Managers should maintain the intensity of conflicts by understanding their dynamics. This tactic will help project managers devise different approaches to resolve these disagreements and reach solutions agreeable to both parties. Moreover, managers can create an atmosphere where innovation is appreciated, creativity is encouraged, and the project’s objectives are achieved rather successfully. So, don’t avoid conflicts and don’t neglect to address problems before they explode.
- Use the right tools
Automation enables project managers to boost efficiency by minimizing mistakes and streamlining all procedures. You can purchase project management applications, such as Trello and Basecamp, to enhance your team’s productivity. Studies show that 61% of organizations completed projects on time by using MP tools, whereas 41% of organizations achieved that without them.
You have digital platforms, such as Asana and Monday, to help you manage the workflow. They provide various features that allow instant communication with your teammates to ensure nobody misses an important notification. These tools let you share information, update essential tasks, and delegate responsibilities with just your smartphone to enhance productivity.
Some concluding thoughts
Does improving your soft skills mean that you can complete every single one of your projects? We have to answer this question with a rude “no”! A Gallup study concluded that merely 2.5% of companies have completed 100% of their projects productively. But honing your soft skills does promise finding balance and structure when it comes to project management. Therefore, consider developing the skills mentioned above and allow your productivity to grow.
As a project manager, you should concentrate on finishing each responsibility separately. Make your work status more visible to boost its transparency through communication. Increase your dependency upon project management practices as organizations waste $1 million every twenty seconds because of implementing a business strategy ineffectively. Lean on PM tools and create a virtual office to enable remote working. It also helps to monitor your progress in real-time to maintain the organization as efficiently as possible.