Among the many jobs that are enjoying a boost in today’s bullish economy, project managers are perhaps the most impressive. Analysts predict that between now and 2027, project managers will enjoy 33 percent more job opportunities, 2.1 million position openings and median pay of over $100,000. All of those figures may have inspired you to try your hand at becoming a project manager or may have enticed you to become a better manager than you are today. In either case, we can tell you confidently that being a successful project manager comes down to knowing how to manage a project effectively.
Sounds obvious, right?
Still, you’d be surprised by just how many project management professionals lose sight of the basics that make the top pros special.
Below, we share seven foundational steps that can help you become a consistently successful manager.
1. Define Your Project And Its Primary Goal
You can’t figure out how to manage a project successfully if you don’t know what your project is aiming to accomplish. That’s why clearly defining a project’s primary goal should be at the top of every project manager’s list when taking on a new assignment.
An unclear goal definition might look something like, “We want to create a piece of software that helps teachers teach”. A strong goal might be “We want to create cloud-based software that enables primary school teachers to save 20%+ time teaching math and English.”
2. Break Your Goal Into Sub-Steps
Now that you know where you’re headed, your next how to manage a project step will be to meticulously list every micro-objective you need to complete to take your project to completion.
Creating sub-steps is where a lot of project managers go wrong. They often don’t spend enough time thinking of every angle and create budgets against shallow plans. Later, they realize there’s a lot more work to be done which they don’t have the funds to complete.
To avoid that fate, take the time to go deep into details. Pick the brain of area experts if you’re unsure what sort of effort goes into doing particular things.
3. Lay Sub-Steps Out Across A Timeline
With your sub-steps defined, lay them out across a timeline. You should already have a project completion date in mind for your overall project that was given to you by whoever is funding your assignment. Use that timeline as your template and see if you can get all of your sub-steps to reasonably fit within it.
If you’re noticing that your sub-steps are going to require more time than you’ve been given, communicate that to stakeholders. Your bosses are better off giving you more time or additional resources than forcing you to work with unreasonable expectations which will increase chances of failure.
4. Find The Right People To Assign Sub-Steps To
You know what needs to be done. You know how long you have to complete each of your tasks. Now it’s time to put together an all-star team to help you complete the work.
There is no aspect of a project that’s more important than the team working on it. Consequently, you’ll want to choose the people you work with carefully.
Remember, if something goes wrong with your project, it’ll be your reputation that gets damaged. Avoid selecting people to help you for any reason outside of the fact that they’re best suited for the job.
5. Identify Project Milestones
As you work through your project, it can be easy to let the cogs turn without reviewing where things are from a macro perspective. Professionals call this “getting lost in the weeds”.
To keep your perspective broad, set milestones in your timeline that, when hit, you’ll take a moment with team members to “kick the tires” on what’s been accomplished. If everything checks out upon review, celebrate with your group so they know their hard work is appreciated.
6. Get Feedback From Stakeholders
The last thing you want is to slave away at a project, deliver it and for your stakeholders to dislike what you’ve done. The best way to avoid that fate is to keep all investors, managers, and other important people in the loop as progress is being made on your project.
That way, if there are objections, they can be addressed in a timely manner rather than when your project is delivered.
7. Don’t Forget That Happy Humans Make For Happy Projects
As you study management solutions, resources and professionals, you’ll learn that what separates good project managers from great ones isn’t attention to detail. It’s their ability to manage people.
Remember, happy humans do incredible things. Unhappy humans that are overworked and ignored just go through the motions and often end up driving up the price on projects due to heightened turnover rates.
Be kind to those that you work with. Hear their ideas. Be their biggest advocates.
If you can do those things, our team is confident that you’ve got a great career ahead of you as a project manager.
If You Love Helping People Be Their Best, Knowing How To Manage A Project Will Come Easy
How to manage a project comes down to understanding a few basic processes, staying organized and, above all else, taking care of your team. If those are things you can manage, you’re going to do great as a project manager.
For those of you searching for additional professional inspiration, feel free to check out more of the career content that we have up on our blog!