Everyone aspires to become a project manager, but the truth is that it’s one of the most mind-boggling experiences you could ever have. Although, without any doubt, project management is one of the most rewarding career choices for anyone. But without experience, it can be challenging.
A project manager can have training and certifications, but the experience is more rewarding in any organization than any diploma. There are a few things that certifications won’t teach you. Hence, every project manager should know these ten things:
1. Don’t make promises:
First things first, one thing that you’ll learn the hard way is not making promises with clients. Yes, promises may seem easy when you make them, but living up to them is hard, especially when working in an organization as a project manager.
So, don’t make promises to the client, just don’t. And if there’s urgency, check with your higher manager before promising anything. Run a couple of estimation meetings, check with developers, ask if they can deliver on time, and ensure that you don’t scare the client with long delivery dates.
2. Language Barrier:
Communication is the most defining factor in anyone’s career’s success. As a project manager, it shouldn’t be your issue. If there is a foreign client, you need to ensure no communication gap between you, the team, and the client.
Another thing that you might face while being a project manager is that you’ll find that different people have different choices for communication. For example, some clients won’t like texts; you might have to call them, some might not prefer calls and would appreciate just a text, and some might prefer meetings. Looking at all these preferences, you need to ensure that these requirements are met to increase the chances of success in this career.
3. To-do list:
Always have a to-do list. It’s important. Why am I emphasizing this? It’s because you won’t remember everything you’re told. At some point, you’ll have so much to remember which will make you forget the important details, such as the notes in the meeting. You’d regret not taking notes. To-do lists come in handy; it’s imperative.
4. Ask for a complete design:
This is one of the most crucial pieces of advice for any project manager. ALWAYS ask for a complete design from a client, PERIOD. Why is so much emphasis on this? Well, because at some point, you’ll ask the client for a design and might suggest some changes during the process.
There would be a situation where the client will ask you, “Where did we agree to go with these changes?” And you won’t have any reasonable answer, but embarrassment. So, whenever there’s a design from the client’s end, ask them to share a complete and proper design.
As a project manager, it’s not your responsibility to make business decisions, you could, but you shouldn’t because it’s not your responsibility. Hence, convey to the customer that you cannot make these decisions of changes, and this requires approvals from their end so that you can’t be held accountable.
5. Record all Meetings:
Taking meeting notes is as important as the meeting itself. If you don’t, most probably you would just forget the important points in a meeting and end up blank-minded. To avoid this situation, you need to make sure that someone is writing Minutes of Meetings (MOMs), or a better way to deal with meetings is to record them. Yes, you can and should record all meetings and make sure to go through them once you feel like you’re off track.
It’ll not only help you keep track of things, but if anything goes southwards, you can share the recording with the respective person to remind them what their stance was on something particular during the meeting.
6. Team building is important:
With time, you’ll realize that the project manager is more of a team leader and also has the responsibility of building a great team. Great project managers, like Steve Jobs and others, believed that without great teams, you wouldn’t be able to make great products. Hence, it’s a crucial part of project management to build a great team before building a project.
While team building is an important part of a project, keeping teams engaged is another challenge. For this, you can try different retrospective ideas using your retrospective boards to keep them engaged.
7. Avoid burnouts:
Last but not least, don’t overburden yourself. It’s important to avoid burnout in your career. Take care of yourself, don’t put in so much extra work that could lead to burnouts, take your breaks on time, go out and enjoy weekends, spend time with friends, especially family. In the end, it’s just a work-life balance that will make you successful.
Being a project manager isn’t easy. You would want to follow suggestions. It’s okay if you weren’t aware of them. The secret to a successful one is to follow the “one thing at a time” philosophy and keep on implementing improvements.