Bringing Vision to Your Projects: How to Excel as a Project Manager
Project management is a tough job. It not only involves managing of the financial resources but also human resources, technical resources and at times marketing resources as well. A project manager always reflects four or five managers rolled into one.
Although the profile is challenging, inspiration for good project management is present all around us. Each time a group of people executes a complex project and achieves success in it, it’s an opportunity for you to learn something new. From managing a sports team to directing a big-budget movie or launching a new tablet hurdles are being conquered and multi-million dollar projects are being executed with remarkable success (though not at ease).
Investing in your project managers will pay off rich dividends as it would tremendously increase the all-round competency of your organization. If you are already a project manager, then taking your skills to a higher level would enhance your career and put you ahead of the competition.
Let’s look at seven such traits, which when developed can take a project manager towards excellence.
1. Clarity of Vision
Project management has never been easy. Uncertainty and tremendous potential are involved at each and every stage that can make things to go wrong.
Given that this is a multi-pronged challenge you are dealing with, clarity of vision and a detailed understanding of the goals and the process involved becomes very important. A clear vision is the pivot on which your project stands.
You may not be the one who designed the project, but if you are in charge of it as the project manager, it is extremely important for you to understand your own role and create a vision for executing a proper plan for facing the challenge.
This makes you to think about the process in detail, thereby creating a roadmap for you and your team to proceed.
A strong vision will compel you to face and eliminate any confusion, doubts or gaps in your understanding regarding the shared objectives. Finally, this leaves you with clarity, which is the best guide you could ask for.
Apart from gaining a clear and deep knowledge on the project requirements, anticipation of hurdles and contingency planning, having a vision will also help you to:
- delineate the roles and responsibilities to all those who are involved;
- create time tables and track progress;
- make everyone accountable for any lapses from their end;
- marshal resources to the best of your ability;
- infect your team members with the same enthusiasm as yours.
2. Articulation of Vision
If you cannot break down your vision into a short sentence, it means that you are not clear about it.. Remember, the better you understand your vision the better you will be able to relate it to your team.
For the long-term success of a project it is extremely important for everybody involved in it to have a shared understanding of the project’s goals, objectives and the path charted for them. This includes the team that directly works under you, but may also refer to those associated with the project in some other way (the marketing department, for instance, or any other stake holders).
Reiterate to all those concerned the goals, commitment and the vision of your project at regular intervals, especially when there have been lapses.
3. Attention to Detail
Excellence can be achieved by paying attention even to minutest of the details, by thinking about everything you can and not by letting the standards slip even an inch.
Start taking pride in your work. A project is not just a project; it is an opportunity for a team to excel.
4. Knowledge About Your Team and the Trust in it
Vision requires action to be executed and that usually comes from your people (and technology). If you are given the luxury to choose your own team, make the selections based purely on merit.
If you have no say in the team you are given, spend a day making sure everybody is up to date with the technology or technical know-how as it pertains to your project. Unfortunately, not everybody speaks up when asked in a group so communicate with your team members individually about their strengths and weaknesses.
In any case, you will have given them the confidence to speak up if they have any questions. Communication channels need to be open at all times and no question should be dismissed as naïve. Think of yourself as the captain of a sports team. You manage your players and it’s up to you to bring out the best in everybody for the collective attainment of a goal.
5. Devotion to Lifelong Learning
It’s not just the technology that a project manager has to keep up with these days, but also how it is affecting our projects and the style of management. For those serious about keeping up with the times and the latest in project management literature, further studying the discipline and gaining a PMP Certification would prove to be an excellent investment.
Risk and innovation are perennial bedfellows.
When Apple introduced its new generation touchscreen smartphone in 2007, it would forever change how the world looked at phones. We were being taken in a direction from which there was no returning to the old ways of doing things. It was a definite break from the past.
The success of that concept is for all of us to see. What it also points to is the high degree of risk that Apple took with its designs and the decision to embrace its vision.
Of course, a number of things could have gone wrong along the way. But they didn’t. It just ended up being a huge success. However, what is of note here is that it did not just happen to be a big success; it became so as a result of meticulous planning, immaculate execution and a strong and shared vision.
As project managers or leaders in your company, you will have to take risks from time to time if you are looking for breakthroughs. That would require you to be bold and win others over to your thinking by the compelling force of your arguments.
7. Healthy Attitude Towards Criticism
Consider feedback as pointer towards betterment. Projects often fail and some of them fail spectacularly. As a manager, your focus should not be on proportioning blame or playing the defensive game, but focusing on what went wrong, what you can learn from it and how you can do it differently the next time.