Most people in the workforce will soon be those who grew up using social tools to communicate and engage with each other.  A new collaborative workplace is emerging, transforming the way work is done and the employee skills that are required.  Here are six ways the non-professional PM can better become a better PM.

Be Mr. or Ms. Fix It

Just because your title doesn’t involve the phrase “project manager” doesn’t mean you can’t become one.  If you see something that’s broken, fix it.  Develop a realistic plan to solve your team’s most pressing problems and gather influential people and internal resources around you.  Most people cannot resist someone with enthusiasm and your positive energy will snowball.

Understand What a Project Is

This one sounds obvious, but the best PMs have a solid handle on why they are doing a project, who they are doing the project for, the resources that will be required, and the timeline from initiation to completion.  They push back if senior leadership establishes a deadline that is unrealistic and doesn’t allow for the inevitable unforeseen delays, and before proceeding, they make sure that everyone involved is on the same page regarding the business rationale, budget, and success metrics.

Be Compulsively Organized

Collaboration software keeps your team’s responsibilities and work product streamlined and easy to consult and follow.  However, the software won’t do your whole job for you.  Use its features wisely to communicate next steps and action items after a meeting, keep track of the details and status of each task, and establish relationships between project aspects (i.e. if component A slips, then component B will slip as well).  Consider opening access to external clients and partners as well as your internal team.

Don’t Let Them Coast

Set clear expectations ahead of the project start and hold your team members accountable for specific deliverables and outcomes.  Think about each person’s development areas and devise ways to challenge them and keep them on their toes.  Your team will be more motivated and productive if members can stretch and contribute actively to individual and team goals.

Macromanage 

You know the old saying:  “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, but teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime”?  Effective project managers understand that a team cannot be productive unless each member works autonomously.  Once you set the course, give your people the freedom to make decisions in their area of responsibility, and don’t second-guess those decisions.

Always Have Their Back

Make it clear to your team that mistakes are not only tolerated but encouraged.  Facilitate an environment of open communication and let your people know that your door (virtual or physical) is always open. Failures and setbacks are inevitable, but don’t play the blame game and take responsibility for your own role as a team leader.  Support your team members when going head-to-head with others so that they will trust and respect you.

Alexandra Levit