Project management is one of those fields of which many people have heard, but few are familiar. In fact, some people can view it as downright intimidating, especially considering the size and complexity of some of the projects they handle: construction, software, etc.
While project management does employ specialized knowledge and strict procedures, it uses key, little-known principles that everyone can use, regardless of your industry.
1. No goal, no success.
How can you tell if you’ve achieved success if you haven’t defined what success is? Sales people know this to a T, which is why they work off sales targets and projections. But this applies to any aspect of a business, whether its customer problems solved within a week, bugs squashed in a day, or words written in an afternoon. Keeping your goals measurable and achievable is a great way to track performance while improving morale.
2. You don’t have to know all the answers to lead.
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This is one of the biggest secrets of good leadership. Project managers lead teams of highly talented and educated people, with technical knowledge and experience far beyond the norm. Project managers are not there to show you up, or be a threat, or expose your ignorance. They’re there to extend your knowledge base. Knowing where to get answers is just as important as knowing the answers yourself.
3. Delegate, delegate, delegate.
It all boils down to this: if someone else can do a task better than you, give it to them. There is no shame in handing someone else work if it will result in a better deliverable. But be sure to give credit where credit is due. Nobody likes a glory hog.
4. Communication solves most problems.
In this point, I’m not just talking about talking through an argument (though that is important). I’m also talking about learning how to get the right information from the right people. Many tasks are hampered by improper or insufficient communication, where information isn’t flowing properly to the people who need it. Just imagine: how fast would your day go if you were given the right information at the right time?
5. It’s not about projects, it’s about people.
This is one the biggest secrets of project management. Technical knowledge and certifications are important, but they are also secondary. Project management is people management. If you are already helping, pushing, and herding groups of people towards a single goal, then congratulations: you already are a project manager.