Tips for New Project Managers

We were asked to lead a discussion for new project managers recently. They were interested in discussing how you manage people and projects. The challenge many in the group were having was that while they had project management responsibility, they were not always in a “line management” role – in other words, the people who worked on the projects they were managing often reported to someone else. We love doing these types of roundtable discussions because you can put some ideas on the table and then get the group engaged, talking and learning from each other. Here are some of the discussion points we shared with them:
Influencing Others – even when you don’t have the authority!
• Listen to the concerns of others: up, down and across.
• Derive satisfaction from what your team accomplishes, not just from what you accomplish.
• Influence the quality of the work without doing the work.

Clarifying Roles and Responsibilities
• Clearly define who is responsible for what
• Anticipate in advance where there might be issues between individuals and teams

Setting Expectations
• Make expectations clear – don’t assume your employees know
• Define the desired outcome and make sure the team understands the expected results.
• Focus on the what (outcome); let your team focus on the how
• Communicate the ground rules for how and when you want/need to be involved.
• Regularly evaluate the progress being made.

Gaining Respect
• Do what you say you will do
• Show that you value your employees
• Know what your employees need from you
Follow up but don’t micromanage
• Give employees what they need to be successful
• Be accessible to your employees
• Spend time with your employees

Motivating
Employees are asking:
• Do I know what is expected from me?
• Do I have what I need to do my job right?
• Does my manager encourage my development?
• Does my manager talk about my progress?
• Am I frequently recognized or praised for good work?
• Does my boss care about me as a person?
• Does my opinion count?
• Do I feel included and respected?

Communicating Clearly
• Effective communication is a critical leadership skill
• Understand and effectively use words and phrases
• Respect all points of view
• Laughter and good natured humor occurs
• Be intentional about your communications
• Establish a process of regular communications, up, down and across
• Create opportunities to speak for the good work of your team and share that information up, down and across.
• Turn off listening filters
• Listen to words and clarify understanding
• Pay attention to non-verbal signals
• Be compassionate
• Listen for what’s not said
• Listen for what you want and don’t want to hear
• Resist the urge to formulate a response until after the speaker is finished

Giving and Receiving Feedback
• Timely feedback – can’t do it too often!
• Don’t take good performance for granted – offer praise frequently
• Identify strengths and use them effectively – address weaknesses
• What? (for performance feedback)
– What is the behavior that is not working?
– What is the expectation that is not being met?
– What is the expectation that is being met?
• So What?
– What is the impact?
– Why is it a problem? Why is it great?
• Now What?
– What can the individual do differently to achieve the desired results?
– If not, what is the consequence?
• Talk about specific actions that deserve recognition and appreciation
• Describe the results you are recognizing
• Match the recognition with the person
– Not everyone wants the same kind of praise. Some respond well to public recognition, others to private


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