Organizations rely heavily on project managers to lead projects and mold teams. However, for projects to be successful, you must first understand what your project managers need from you and how to support them so that they can perform to their fullest potential.
Therefore, start with these five suggestions to position yourself as a project manager champion.
Empower Your Managers
The worst thing you can do to any project is micromanaging every aspect. A project manager is put into place specifically to handle the details and guide each team member through every task and milestone. Therefore, trust in their process. A project manager has been trained to run their teams. That said, each one may have their unique approaches to getting things done, and so long as you see process and successful execution, it’s important not to step in and enforce your way of handling things. Instead, empower your project managers. Embrace a hands-off approach and nurture an environment of trust to allow your project manager the room they need to operate and succeed. Give them space to make decisions that are best for their team and the project.
Give Them the Tools They Need to Succeed
Allow project managers to use technology to everyone’s advantage. There are tools to help with tasks (such as Trello or Monday), communication (Slack), project management (Asana, Wrike), CRM (Salesforce), project management and bug tracking (Jira), and even apps that can help link other apps together for easier, more transparent communication and tracking (like Bitband’s Slack/Jira integration). Whatever you can do to leverage technology, software, or apps to help make a project manager’s job easier, the better it is for the project – and the company – as a whole.
Nurture an Open-Door Policy
Especially if you have more junior project managers you’re helping develop. It’s essential to have an open-door policy to allow them to bounce ideas off you or come to you if they run into walls or need to discuss scope creep or shift project expectations openly.
This may require you to take on a coaching role and invite project managers to workshop problems to find practical solutions. Be sure to listen and ask open-ended questions. It’s essential to be a sounding board and not necessarily the go-to person who will come in and fix issues. Otherwise, you may be in a position where managers expect you to swoop in when things are going off the rails instead of feeling comfortable enough to initiate fixes and novel solutions themselves.
Give your project managers big-picture insights to see how their projects (or their work) are benefitting the larger goals and long-term successes of a company. Being transparent and showing your reasoning for why you are moving in a specific direction or making certain strategic decisions can help support your bigger goals and ensure various teams or departments are moving in lockstep with the organization.
Evaluate According to the Bigger Picture
While it may make sense to have individual employee targets as specific and measurable, a manager may need to be evaluated through a broader lens as metrics for success may be different. Look at the success of the entire project as a bellwether of project manager performance. Look at frameworks such as OKRs (objectives and key results). These will help you assess performance based on top-level outcomes.
It’s important to remember what it’s like to be a single team manager. Whatever you needed – or wished you had – as a manager of teams in the past, you should be working to provide to your managers. Sharing the company’s vision and how their projects fit into the bigger picture is a great way to help managers understand their role within the organization. Don’t forget to be there for them in whatever capacity they need. In some cases, it may just mean getting out of their way and letting them manage. In others, a bit of a guiding hand might be necessary. At the end of the day, however, it’s integral that every single one of your managers knows your door is always open to them. This will help you collectively bounce ideas around to fix issues before they become full-blown problems and strategize on best practices before, during, and after any project.
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