To excel in business, it is essential to hone your project management skills. These skills can be used within any profession, whether you are the owner of a business or an employee within someone else’s company.
Time management, task management, creating budgets, handling communications with team members and customers, staying organized, and overcoming problems are all aspects of successful project management.
When companies neglect these skills, the oversight is reflected in their poor results. According to recent research, organizations are wasting 11.4% of investment due to poor project performance–a portion that could be put to excellent use for the company if preserved through better management.
To help you improve your project management skills, we’ve put together a helpful guide with tips and techniques to take your management skills to the next level.
A project schedule is a task-based list that takes the most critical tasks and separates them from the rest. Here are some tips for creating an effective project schedule:
Think about deadlines
What are the deadline dates for each task? Come up with strategies or success indicators to make sure you complete each one in time.
Is one task more important than the others? If so, consider including it within the first few slots on your list; if not, put it beneath the top priority items.
Group related tasks together
Group together only similar tasks. This will allow you to spend less time deciding what needs to be done, allowing you to work more efficiently towards completing all of your goals by the end of each day (or week).
Set up notifications on your phone or calendar so you don’t forget about tasks close to their deadline. You can use Day to create and manage your team’s schedule–it’s a handy time clock app that ensures you and your team will never miss a schedule, appointment, or task.
Routinely check-in with work colleagues
At set times during the day (maybe once or twice an hour), take a few minutes to find out how everyone is doing and if there’s anything you can do to help them at that moment in time.
Reassure them and yourself that everything is going as planned so far–and don’t forget about those breaks!
Being able to communicate your mission effectively is key when talking about project management skills. Here are some tips for communicating with fellow managers and employees alike:
Be clear about expectations
Make deadlines clear and explain why you’re setting them. If a deadline isn’t kept, don’t berate your team–instead, discuss what can be done differently next time to avoid work being submitted past its due date.
When tasks are delegated, ensure quality work is achieved by providing adequate support throughout the project life cycle. Be constructive in your criticism of team member performance; bring issues to resolution quickly and don’t let them drag on.
Delegate tasks to the right people
Ensure you give each person on your team a task suited to their skill set, attitude, and work experience. Matching tasks with their strengths (and weaknesses) will improve the overall work quality and help you delegate more effectively.
Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback
You’ll never improve as a project manager unless you know what you’re doing wrong and where you can do better.
Consider asking one of your colleagues (or even a friend) to assist by acting like the other person in this situation so that they can provide honest feedback on how well or poorly you might have managed them so far.
Review Previous Projects
Before starting a new project, you should take some time to review the work done on previous projects. Here are some questions you can ask yourself when you’re doing this:
What went well? What didn’t go as planned? Would anything have been different if you had more time or resources? How could those mistakes have been avoided the next time around?
Did any of your team members excel at specific tasks and stand out from the rest? What made them so good at what they did? Were their ideas implemented successfully by other people on-team or missed opportunities for greatness within the company overall?
This will help you prepare for future projects and take into account your team members’ strengths and weaknesses and those of other people within the company. If you’ve got any ideas about specific changes that could be made during project management, now is the time to share them!
Setting expectations is an integral part of the project management process, no matter what you’re working on. Here’s how to correctly set expectations with your team:
Be clear about deadlines
Explain precisely when each task must be completed and by whom. Remind yourself and others along the way that there might still be a few minor changes if circumstances aren’t in your favor, but don’t let anything unexpected throw off your schedule too much!
If you’ve got several substantial projects on your plate at once, break them down so they feel more manageable. Decompose complex tasks into subtasks and set realistic deadlines for each one (as well as their corresponding deadlines).
These will serve as milestones throughout the life cycle of the project.
Get everyone on the same page
Communicate with your team members frequently to make sure they’re always aware of their progress. Keep an eye out for any early warning signs that something might not be going as planned, and try to predict future issues that may arise or cause problems.
Be open about changes
Set clear boundaries regarding what’s acceptable to change during the life cycle. That way, you can efficiently address situations when someone wants to make an adjustment to the project midway through.
Try to anticipate these kinds of requests before getting too far into the project to minimize the impact on other tasks or people within the company.
A little appreciation can go a long way, especially when you’re working with teams on time-sensitive projects. Including your colleagues in the success of any project is an excellent way to motivate them to continue putting forth their best effort.
Always acknowledge positive contributions
Recognize everyone who’s done well and try to find ways that they might be able to improve upon what they’ve already accomplished. This will keep them feeling engaged and confident about continuing their excellent work moving forward.
Shine the spotlight
If someone does something amazing, consider sending out an email or hosting a small party to recognize them publicly for all of their hard work! People love being appreciated for their successes, and doing so will encourage them to keep succeeding in the future.
Make it a group effort
Collaborative projects or those with cross-functional teams can be even more successful if you encourage people to work together and reward the entire group as a whole.
This will help your team feel empowered, so they’ll have extra motivation to continue innovating new ideas within the company.
Adaptability is Key
As time passes and things inevitably change within the company, you’ll want to be ready to adapt your project management plan accordingly.
Make sure that any project management approach you decide on can readily be changed without too many complications or setbacks. It’s always better to expect the unexpected. This will help your team stay on track with their project timeline and avoid doing anything that might waste time.
Remember your flow
There’s nothing worse than forgetting what you were working on or where you left off when multiple projects are taking place at once. Whenever possible, try to plan out your work in advance so you’re always aware of how everything relates to each other and can easily keep track of your tasks.
This is a simple way to make sure you’re keeping pace with the rest of the company and staying competitive in your industry. Try to follow some industry news or attend conferences if you can afford it, so you’ll always have a leg up on anything new that might be introduced soon.
Improve Your Process
If you’re having trouble getting started with project management, the problem might not be with you–it could simply be your current approach. Improve your process by trying out any of these tips:
Reduce the number of steps
Sometimes our brains get overwhelmed when tackling too many things at once. By simplifying your process, you’ll find it easier to keep everything organized. Condense steps that overlap or interrelate, and try to find the simplest way possible to achieve your ends.
Get a fresh perspective
Try getting a second opinion from someone else. This will help give you a new outlook on the project and introduce new ideas that you hadn’t considered before.
Hold yourself accountable
It’s easy to go off track when you’re unsure where to focus your energy. Try making a list of all tasks and projects you’re working on and then marking off what gets done and what doesn’t.
Collaborate with others
Have some extra time? Spending even just a few minutes brainstorming with someone can help you accelerate progress and shake things up if you feel stuck in the same old routine.
Improving Project Management Skills: Conclusion
All of these practices are aimed at helping you to deliver the best possible results! By setting clear expectations, using software to manage schedules, rewarding people for a job well done and working as a team, you’ll be fully equipped to handle any project from start to finish.
Although it can feel overwhelming at times, with a bit of preparation, communication, and dedication to craft, you’ll be able to leverage these techniques to improve your project management skills and achieve success in no time!