How to Improve Your Project Management Skills
Project management requires a diverse skill set, from communication to team leadership to technical planning and reporting. But how can you improve your project management skills? Earning and/or renewing a project management certificate is one way, but there are many other ways you can hone your project management skills for even greater success on the job.
- Tap into your network of subject matter experts and resources and ask them for any tips they can share
- If your company keeps a database of lessons learned, do research on similar past projects
- Speak with other project managers about their best practices in specific areas
- Consider reading other resources on how to improve project management skills, such as those published by the Project Management Institute or the Wrike blog.
Common areas for improvement
One of the primary responsibilities—and one of the most important—of a project manager is to communicate clearly and effectively with all stakeholders and team members. Come up with a consistent communication plan for your project, identifying all those who will need to stay up to date and planning out various methods of reaching them:
- Group meetings
- One-on-one meetings
- Status reports
- An open-door policy or “office hours” to discuss issues
Also, be sure to manage expectations by immediately addressing any problems or concerns that arise and presenting your stakeholders with an action plan for how you will handle the issues.
Now is the time to create and nurture your relationships with your team members and upper management. You’ll need buy-in from all involved parties in order to move forward smoothly and troubleshoot when necessary. Create a working environment where stakeholders are comfortable speaking with you and feel that they’re being heard, acknowledged and appreciated. This means being approachable, accessible and transparent. And don’t stress about grand gestures: A simple coffee or lunch can go a long way.
As a project manager, you’re responsible for making sure the project is delivered on time and on budget. To improve your project management skills in this area, make sure your team is using standardized time-tracking and schedule templates so everything is transparent and everyone understands how they fit into the big picture. Keeping track of team members’ time also allows you, as the project manager, to ascertain how long each task takes, allowing you to better allocate resources going forward.Also, pay close attention to the hand-off points at each stage of the project, as those areas tend to have the most opportunity for delays or errors. Check in regularly during those periods to ensure smooth transitions and steady forward progress.
Take the time to learn about your team members. You’ll want to know their strengths and weaknesses so you can not only ensure they’re assigned to the most appropriate tasks for their skill sets but also inspire and motivate them to new levels of productivity and success. In addition to leading by example, be sure to thank them for their hard work and consider implementing rewards for small team wins.
Even the best project managers don’t do it alone. Identify areas in need of improvement within your processes and procedures, and invest in the right tools to fill the gaps. Using the right project management tool can save you time, provide visibility through status reports and help manage workflows.