Sometimes we are lucky enough to come across people who give us exactly the piece of advice we need in the moment when we most need it. I have been lucky enough to be in this situation a few times and I definitely won’t forget some of the terrific pieces of advice I was given.
1. It’s All About the People
It can be easy to get carried away with the technical stuff on a project and forgot about the real people who will need to use your finished product at some point. In my first project I had got all tangled up in all sorts of unnecessary complications. Actually, I thought that I was doing great but the guy in charge of the overall piece of work obviously didn’t agree with me. Instead of saying anything to me outright he simply suggested that I go and speak to the end users and see whether what I had done was going to be of any use to them. His plan worked, as I realized that I had lost sight of the end users and their needs. If you forget about the people you are meant to be helping then you have very little chance of making the project a success.
2. Always Be Professional
Before working on projects I had worked in a number of less formal jobs. This meant that I had more of a laid back approach than a lot of my new colleagues. This seemed fine at first when we were just dealing with each other in the project team. However, once I got talking to the stakeholders my boss pointed out that I needed be more professional with them. You can still have a few laughs but you need to always remember that you are carrying out a piece of work for them and need to give out the right image. After working on a couple of projects with someone you will be able to work out the kind of approach they like and how you should behave with them.
3. Be Patient
Rushing into the decision making process is another problem which many new project managers come across. This wasn’t especially a problem for me, as I had come across from an analytical type of job. However, this just means that the piece of advice had already been given to me before I worked on a project. The best advice here is simply to be patient and not come up with any answers before you have fully considered the question. This might meant curbing your natural urge to get a rapid solution but it will ensure that you get the best long term answers.
4. Keep Asking Questions
The only way to become an expert in any subject is to ask plenty of questions of the right people. This was one of the first pieces of advice I was ever given in a project situation. I was starting out in a new piece of work and it was around a system which was quite complicated and which I had no real knowledge of. I had started trying to come up with solutions before I had even worked out everything I needed to know. My boss was a smart guy and he obviously realized that I hadn’t been asking enough questions. For this reason he set me up with some workshops and made sure that I went out to the experts who actually used the system on a daily basis. Don’t forget that you need to become an expert on anything which you are going to implement or make changes to.
5. Keep an Open Mind
If you follow the previous pieces of advice you will probably give yourself every chance of coming up with a range of possible solutions. However, you don’t want to restrict yourself to only one type of solution or to the kind of thing you have done in the past. Instead, you need to keep an open mind and make sure that you consider every possibility. It might be that you need to come up with something new and innovative which no one else has thought of or it could be that you don’t really need to do anything anywhere near as drastic. The most important point is that you don’t rule anything out too early and that you are aware of the benefits of not closing off your mind to any possible solutions.