Your efficacy as a project manager is only as strong as the respect you command from your team. Respect is earned, and there are some tried and tested ways of getting the deference you deserve from your team. This is especially important when establishing authority with a new team or new projects.
Respect is earned
The first rule of project management is to treat your team members with the utmost respect. Be polite and considerate. Effective project management means controlling your temper and dealing with issues in private rather than berating team members in front of colleagues.
Good project management requires you to trust your team members. Trusting their methods and allowing them to contribute in a meaningful way to the planning and execution of projects will encourage your team members to be invested in the projects they are working on.
Competent project management entails being respectful of employees’ personal time while ensuring that they put in the hours needed for success.
Be technically competent
The art of project management requires you to not only be a jack of all trades, but a master of them too. Being technically competent will enable you to make the best decisions for the project, it will enable you to problem solve effectively and it will also allow you to identify innovation in your team. Of course you don’t have to know everything your team knows, after all—they’re the experts, but you do need to understand the overarching concepts. The more you know, the more effective you will be at project management. Do your own research and brush up on your skills before taking on new project management roles.
Great project management requires you to step back and allow your team members to shine. Be outcomes based; give clear directives to your team members and outline their roles and responsibilities, then allow them to complete their tasks on their own. Your trust will inspire them to greater heights. Reward those team members who rise to the occasion and deal with those who don’t.
Deal with individuals, not groups
Competent project management means having the difficult conversations. When a team member is slacking by leaving early or coming in late, don’t punish the team by instituting stricter business hours; deal with the individual instead. Too many rules and restrictions will stifle creativity and reduce workplace happiness. Successful project management relies on leadership that is personal and deals with individuals, even if that means having the tough talks.
Be transparent and fair
Part of project management is assessing the performance of individual team members. Standardize your performance appraisals so that everyone is measured with the same criteria. Don’t leave this part up to HR; get involved. Be realistic about the goals you set for each team member and work together with them to set targets you both feel are realistic. Evaluate them on their ability to do their jobs and give specific examples when discussing what they did right and what they did wrong. Never, ever let your personal feelings about a team member influence your professional evaluation of their performance.
All work and no play
Project management can be exhausting, so take a break once in a while and do something fun with your team. Take them out to lunch, have a family barbeque or organize a softball game. Seeing people in a social setting will help to build positive relationships between you and your team and individual team members. Ensure that social activities are voluntary and that they do not take up employees’ personal time.
A kind word goes a long way
Studies show that it’s appreciation and recognition that employees value above earning potential. Project management involves tending to the emotional needs of your team members too and a word of appreciation and thanks, and recognition in front of colleagues for jobs well done will really inspire your team members to be loyal and to work to fulfill their potential. Be sincere and recognize efforts that are innovative, go beyond the call of duty or require additional hours.
Project management is a juggling act that requires a bouquet of skills. If you have recently been promoted to a project management position, it would behoove you to find a mentor. Work with a mentor that you respect and try to emulate their management style, while finding something that works with your personality. Every day, new challenges will present themselves and having a mentor will help you to deal with issues effectively. Just as you teach your team and evaluate their performance, you should allow them to teach you too and evaluate your own performance so that you can grow and learn.