For any project manager there is always a possibility of barriers to productivity or progress. These are things that can pose a serious threat not only to your project success but also to the team morale. Fortunately, there are plenty of solutions that can help you and here are 10 of our favourite solutions.
The first hurdle that you might find yourself facing is a lack of clarity in your project. It is essential that a project manager is able to create a clear project vision as well as being able to explain project management techniques to their project team. It is important for a project manager to be someone who can juggle a number of tasks whilst successfully ignoring unnecessary distractions throughout the life of the project.
Whilst things are changing for the better, many project managers are a little “old school” when it comes to how they look at team management. They eschew a diplomatic manner in favour of something more dictatorial that really only creates unnecessary barriers to productivity for the project. A project team will always work best for a project manager who takes the time to work on their soft skills, whilst establishing trust and also encouraging an environment where there is reciprocal feedback. The use of soft skills does not make a project manager someone who is walked all over by their team but someone who has an effective attitude to leadership and who works with their team.
Something that is often overlooked is the need to provide ongoing training and development for team members. They will probably already have experience and the necessary skills to undertake their role but growth within a role is also important. Investing in training and additional qualifications for your team is a good way to let them know how much their contributions are valued and will help with employee retention. It isn’t just team members who can benefit from development and training there is always room for more learning as a project manager as well.
You are not just a project manager you are also a member of a team and whilst leading a team is a difficult job if you make yourself inaccessible to your team then you are creating problems for yourself. Make time to celebrate the little victories of the project with your team members so that they can see how close you are getting to a successful project completion. Be a part of your team for the good and the bad, when you encounter an issue that needs to be solved, get stuck in and help to find the solution. When you show your team how invested you are in the project it will help with motivation.
As the project manager you are responsible for ensuring that the project schedule is followed at every stage. Time is money so if your project falls behind schedule then it will end up costing you more money. Obviously, there may be some circumstances when it is not possible to stick to your schedule, such as an unexpected issue with a supplier creating a supply chain issue. And remember just because your plan is going to plan you shouldn’t take your eye off the progress, because it can slip off schedule very quickly.
We have already touched on this but it is worth a mention all of its own. One of the biggest barriers to productivity you will face is keeping your team motivated and engaged. The start of the week can often see things getting off to a slow start but if this persists into the week then you may have real problems. Every project will undoubtedly have some bumps along the way but it is part of your responsibility to boost your team and inspire them when times are tough. There is a very important saying that people don’t leave jobs – they leave because of the management, so if you want to keep your team together you need to treat them properly.
Business is all about money and the desired end result of a project is a deliverable that is on budget, can give you a good profit margin and also gets the approval of the stakeholders. A poor budget is one of the biggest barriers to productivity you might face as a project manager, so it is important to ensure that your time management is effective and that you utilise economical solutions whilst still producing great results.
Being a project manager isn’t for everyone and it is often necessary to have a thick skin. There will certainly be times when you will find yourself being needed by several of your project team members at once, and dealing with this may fray your temper. It is essential to be an assertive diplomat, someone who can establish a sense of order but who has broad shoulders as well. If you want to achieve a healthy work / life balance, then you will need to make sure that you leave criticisms behind in the office at the end of the day.
Let’s face it, nobody really likes meetings but they are often a necessity when working on projects. Keep the tone informal, provide refreshments and make sure meetings are productive whilst helping to keep them a little less formal. Collaboration is the key so make sure that all of your team members have their voice heard during meetings. You need to be confident and you need to build confidence within your team if you want to ensure that you can get the job done.
One common problem that project managers face is the inability to look further one with their timeline in order to identify potential issues that might cause problems. It is foolish to assume that this isn’t something that could occur in a project and being prepared is always the best solution, if the issues don’t occur then there will be no potential delays but if they do, having solutions to hand will keep delays to a minimum. Be proactive and anticipate the potential future issues on your project timeline.