Our project manager Kim shares a few important insights:
1. Communication is key
There is no getting around it: if you’re uncomfortable about giving and receiving feedback, good or bad: project manager is not for you. Communication is key! You’ll need a great deal of positive energy to inspire your team members and to explain work processes to clients.
Project management communication comes down to communicating clearly about goals, expectations and concerns about the results.
2. Breaking large tasks into small ones
When you're about to start working on a big project, find a way to break it down into small, actionable steps and get to work. One of the first things I learned about project management is that you can’t actually finish a “project”. You can only complete all the steps that are part of that project, and then mark the whole thing as done. If you divide a big project into smaller tasks, it’s not as scary. You can just complete one small task, get your dopamine hit, and feel good about your accomplishment.
3. Be available
Things can change overnight, or even within a few hours or ... minutes! There should always be a way for your team/client to contact you, meaning: you always need to be available.
This will become more and more important as your project grows. For instance, what if a client suddenly starts to change his or her mind on something, or, which is worse: the project is failing.
As a project manager, you need to be available to act quickly, both for clients and team members.
4. Be prepared to do everything, because you’re gonna
It’s a good thing I learned so much because the job pretty much required getting my hands dirty (so to speak). Clients don’t care if developers get sick. If there’s a deadline, the results need to be in their hands promptly. Being short-staffed is no excuse for missing a deadline. Resulting in the fact that I also need to be able to apply edits like swapping out links and images.
5. Reality check
Tasks keep coming at you, but you can't complete them all on your own. What if your team members are all occupied at a given moment? Sometimes you have to say no to clients, meaning, you might have to disappoint a client once in a while. Tasks come and go, if a task fails, honesty towards a client is important: we are humans, not machines. As a project manager, you can go all the way and lose yourself, so balance is super important. Balance at work, but also balance in your private life.
“Operations keep the lights on, strategy provides the light at the end of the tunnel, but project management is the train engine that moves the organization forward” – Joy Gumz