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Career Advice: Top tips for new project managers

Project Management

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Managing a project for the first time is a fantastic opportunity, yet it is also one in which your skills will be tested. These tips will help you to manage your first project and will help you steer clear of some classic errors which project managers can all too easily commit…

One key tip, which is often overlooked due to its simplicity, is that you need to know your project. This cannot be emphasised enough. Before you set out, you must know the details and goals of the project as this will allow you to devise a strategy to achieve the desired objectives.

These goals need to be kept in mind as it is the nature of large projects that other things will pop up. While dealing with these, it is important to remember that they are part of a larger whole and that solving them will not achieve your goals. New project managers often become too engrossed on a single element of it and lose sight of their overall aim.

When managing any team, it is important that you listen and engage. By listening to your team, you will learn of their individual strengths and weaknesses as well as knowing how they interact with others and what motivates them.

It is not just enough to listen to the ideas of your team; you need to act on the information you are collecting and use it to engage your team. Knowing what they are good at will allow you to delegate more effectively. Knowing what motivates them will allow you to supply them with engaging work. Engaging your team is the key to unlocking their potential.

No project will finish as it started; it develops constantly and its goals may change during its lifespan. As a project manager, you need to embrace change. If your goals are redefined, do not be too shocked or panic. If you become unsettled by a change, it’s likely that your team will too. Instead, simply rework the original strategy so that it fulfils the new aims of the project and move forward.

When managing a team, you need to maintain communication between all the people on your team. This does require some level of diligence as you need to constantly track what has been done and what is left to be done which, especially on large projects, is no mean feat.

Even small things like sharing work calendars or having networked files everyone can view and work on allows people to be aware of what others are doing and can make a huge difference in this regard. Keeping up communication will prevent mistakes like two people doing the same task separately from each other or, even worse, a task being missed off.

While listening to your team, you need to respond to what they are saying and not be afraid to challenge ideas. This is not to say that you should shut down your team’s ideas in place of your own, but rather that you should be prompting them to reflect on their own thoughts.

Your team will have the technical expertise to complete the project, so you don’t necessarily have to lead on the ideas front. Getting them to think through their suggestions by carefully questioning them will allow them to perform a mental check to see if their proposals are sound.

Asking simple questions will often confirm that they are right in what they are saying but it may reveal a pitfall which, had it been progressed with, would have been very costly to the project later on.

Do you have what it takes to step into project management? Go to the Cobalt job search page which has a wealth of opportunities for aspiring project managers.

We’re here if you need help defining a role or brief, specialist insight to help shape your ideas or expert help with your recruitment process. Just get in touch to arrange a conversation with one of the team or if you’re ready for us to find the perfect person for you, send us your brief.

If you’re looking for your ideal job send your CV to us to get started or search for the latest job vacancies and we’ll get the ball rolling.