How To Become A Better Project Manager in 8 Ways

Trying to measure what makes someone good at being a project manager is a tad subjective. Is this barometer based on how many sales they make, or how many colleagues they keep happy? Or is it about how efficient they are, how reliable they are, or how much overtime they’re prepared to work? Do they need project management tips? 

A great project manager will be expected to tackle all of the above; their typical duties will include estimating project work, building project plans, monitoring the project’s progress, and making sure relationships are stable all around (think team morale and stakeholder reassurement).

The project manager is trusted to have their fingers in many pies – to have a grasp on multiple sectors of their working environment. Due to this, they are valuable to any organisation – big or small – and highly sought after for their strategic skill set. 

Whether you’re struggling in your current position, are new to the profession, or would just like some extra project management tips, you’ve come to the right place.

Read further as we break down 8 essential ways of how to become a better project manager. 

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8 Project Management Tips

Understand Your Customers

First off, it is critical for the PM to understand what the client wants to achieve.  This can include the time, resources and scope that the project requires. Depending on the industry, budget constraints and quality guidelines are other considerations that the project manager may have to take into account.

Once the Project Manager nails this down, he or she can begin staffing others within or across departments to ensure success. One key tip is using a statement of work (SOW) and identifying stakeholders as well as champions to help the PM achieve this end goal on behalf of the client.

Master Your Project Management Tools
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Asana makes project progress tracking easy and accessible. (https://app.asana.com/)

Once the groundwork is done, the Project Manager who wants to improve their skills would be well-advised to get smart on KPIs (key performance indicators) or KSIs (key success indicators). 

This second project management tip means not only using such tools as RACI to clarify everyone’s roles and responsibilities, but also adopting a critical or self-reflective approach toward project success. The use of monday.com, Asana or other web- and cloud-based portals is a great technical means toward analyzing and tracking progress. 

These should include cost, performance, time and quality-related considerations, but when taken within the broader context of marketing, KPIs can include CTR, email signups, shares, engagement and more. 

The bottom-line on how to become a better project manager, though, remains the same regardless of the circumstances:  communicate first with the team about what they feel is important and then begin to measure, monitor, and eventual manage to those indicators.

Great tools might include the use of electronic or wall-based Gantt charts as well as earned value management, or EVM, software.

Be A Team Player
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In keeping with the discussion on implementing tools and analyzing whether a project is ‘on track’ is remembering that the PM should be acting more as a consultant and, so, should adjust his or her leadership style to suite the needs of the team.

A little encouragement can go a long way. Even if you’re not sweating pep and verve from every pore, it can really boost your team’s confidence to let them know when they’re doing a good job and, instead of berating them if they fall short, offer constructive feedback: “I hear you and appreciate your effort, but did you consider X?” will earn you far more respect than mudslinging and pure anger.

The bottom-line here, especially when it comes to the marketing environment, is to remember to always ‘attack’ those processes or external threats and not one another!

Delegate Carefully

As mentioned earlier, a project manager will often find themselves with a lot on their plate. However, this does not mean you’re expected to take on five people’s workloads. When working on a niche project – say, an equestrian website – it’s important to make a judgement on who is best equipped to handle specific parts: who on the team has an existing subject knowledge, or who on the team is specialised in developing an informative website? 

How to become a better project manager? Delegate. Trust your colleagues to deliver on your expectations. 

Lead and Initiate Communication
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Slack lets you communicate with your team without having to hold a meeting or bringing them into your office. (Slack.com)

It sounds like a regurgitated mantra and a void cliché, but communication really is key in successful project management. The job entails keeping open lines of communication with internal colleagues and external clients, being candid and open about minor details and larger issues alike. 

A successful project manager will understand that individuals communicate in different ways; you’ll be receptive to other people’s needs, but will, from your own perspective, need to be reliable, honest, and clear with your communication from the onset. If you’re having difficulty communicating, try employing the use of workplace messaging apps such as slack to more effectively facilitate communication between teams and key stakeholders. 

Bottom-line?  If the team around the table doesn’t buy-in, then it is time for the PM to broker communication internally first, before exporting any external comms to paying clients and customers.

Communicate Consequences

Out of all these Project Management tips, this one is routinely overlooked, but it’s integral in establishing working guidelines. It’s important, as a Project Manager, to communicate to your client the notion of cause-and-effect. Since they’re not in your position, your client might not understand the crippling impact a seemingly small alteration might have on the project as a whole.

For example, a client providing feedback a day later than planned could impact the rest of the project and its momentum. You, as project manager, need to establish a clear line of communication, set out the consequences of a motion on the project, and make sure your client is not going in blind.

Test Before Release

Before declaring victory, another tip for the Project Manager is to first test and validate a new communication or marketing campaign before going live and potentially risking the client’s reputation and, subsequently, his or her own!

One great tool in shortening the product testing timeline lies in the book, The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, which details how to build a concept, test and measure its effectiveness quickly and at cost, and learn from any bugs that appear in the new process.

Should the latter occur, of course, and it is highly likely in the volatile world of marketing, the team would only have to go back a step or two and not all the way to the drawing board.

Manage Effectively
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Our last project management tip and in keeping with the concept of testing and continuous process improvement, Project Managers acting as facilitators should ensure not only project completion, success or otherwise, but also lay the foundation for a turnkey handoff.

The bottom-line here is to ensure that there is no scope creep in the original document or contract wherein the Project Manager continues to act as a manager for the project (unless re-negotiated). Instead, the Project Manager should set a firm handover date and make sure that the team has all they need for success.

The work doesn’t let up just because the project is done and dusted. Take a moment to reflect on your project: evaluate what went well, what you could have done better, and always strive to work even smarter. 

Working in such an eclectic position, you’re guaranteed that no two days will be the same. There’s no shame in being honest with yourself and your abilities; continue striving to better yourself and develop your skill set as there is always room for improvement. 

Key Takeaways for FAQ Page Design   

When it comes to the idea of projects, the Project Manager does not necessarily have to be camped out in some boardroom acting like a consultant in order to benefit from a stronger, more structured approach, especially when it comes to accomplishing a task or achieving a resource-constrained goal.

If nothing else, here are 3 project management tips that you should endeavor to remember:

Communication is key: As a Project Manager, you facilitate communication between key stakeholders as well clients. No matter the industry or company, you can expect to be doing a lot of communication. A great Project Manager will always seek to understand everyone’s unique needs and perspective while being transparent in their responses to ensure that the project can finish smoothly. 

Master your project management tools: Managing projects is a difficult task. It becomes nigh impossible if you don’t take advantage of the variety of tools that are available to assist you. Apps like Asana, Monday and Jira help you help others. Master your tools and you’ll master your craft. 

Delegate carefully: Part of being an effective leader is having trust in your colleagues and your team. You don’t have to shoulder all the responsibilities yourself – you’re there to support your team and your team is there to support you. Making a judgement call on who is best equipped to handle certain projects and tasks is what being an effective leader is all about. 

Good luck on becoming a better project manager!

Thea Christie

Written By Thea Christie

Thea is an Editor at Advesa and possesses a strange love of grammar, syntax and punctuation. In the past, she’s worked as a content specialist for publications in the startup, SME and tech space. When she’s not storytelling, she’s busy being a travel junkie. @theachristie