(hint: this is a trick question)
Even if it's not in your job title, I can almost guarantee you've worn the hat of Project Manager a handful of times in your career. Ever had to coordinate the completion of something with someone else? Ever had to think about what, when, and how much? Just because we don't all use the terms "scope," "time," or "cost" on a daily basis doesn't mean we don't fill Project Management shoes regularly.
The toughest--and most important--part of being a PM is communication, especially if there are a lot of stakeholders who need to know what's going on. One of the top reasons projects fail is ineffective communication (alongside role/responsibility mismatch and ineffective risk management). We know that communication is critical, it’s hard, and it’s not about us, so how do we make it easier and more effective?
Here are 4 tips to ensure everyone stays on the same page.
4 Tips for Being a Rockstar PM
1) Make the deadline, route, and people clear
I love the road-trip example. Let's say, for example, you're taking a family road trip to Florida. Make sure everyone knows you're going to Florida. Otherwise, you might have someone packing for the mountains, not the beach. Make sure the driver knows how to get there. If you don’t, you may end up in a corn field, lost, with no phone signal, trying to read an outdated paper map.Make sure everyone is in the same vehicle - unless there's a compelling reason to take multiple vehicles.The project/trip is more successful together than having individuals each make their own way. And finally, make sure everyone knows the arrival date. You don’t want to schedule the family’s Florida trip over band camp.
2) Don't start planning the route until you know your destination
Determine the goals of a project before you decide how to do it. It's hard to plan a family road trip if you don't know where you're going--unless you're just going to wing it, and that tends to make stakeholders (aka, your family members) a little nervous.
3) Give everyone a map
Create a one-page document that outlines the project's goals, the necessary tasks that need to be completed to achieve those goals, and the person(s) responsible for specific tasks. For your road trip, where are you going, what do you need to do leading up to the trip (pack, find a cat-sitter, turn off the stove, etc.), and who is in charge of each thing (Who is in charge of packing the cooler? Who is in charge of making sure the gas tank is full? Who is asking the neighbor to feed the cat?).
4) Know your "What ifs"
Create a contingency plan so you know what to do in the not-so-unlikely event that something doesn't go as planned. Get the team together and brainstorm what could go wrong when you're mapping out the project, and think of how you'll overcome hiccups so you're ready if and when they come. If you get to the beach and it’s gloomy and cloudy, what will you do instead? If the hotel isn’t serving a good breakfast, what will you do? If you forgot the sunscreen, where’s the nearest store?
We all have aspects of project management in our lives, we just don’t all call ourselves Project Managers. If you’d like some more tips on managing the big and little projects in your life, check out our Project Management resource page for even more tips to make your project management even better.