This is a guest post for Skills You Need.
Want to contribute? Find out how.
7 Project Management Tips
to Improve Productivity
The life of a project manager is never dull. Between tracking productivity, communicating with team members, and generally fostering a sense of community, there's plenty of work to keep you busy. Add all that to the business chaos that has been created by the coronavirus pandemic, and the job of project manager has gotten a bit more complicated.
Particularly with the pandemic in full swing, the ability to keep your team productive while working remotely has become the overarching goal of project managers around the world. In fact, stats have shown that sound project management strategies can prevent organizations from wasting up to 28 times less money in the long run. Fortunately, we’re here to help you establish some effective strategies.
If you’ve found the cliched “new normal” to be a bit difficult to manage, we’ve got seven tips that should help you alleviate the stress of managing a project during the pandemic. Take a look at our suggestions below, and remember that you aren’t the only one that needs a bit of help during these – again cliched – uncertain times.
Set Clear Goals
Your team members aren’t psychic. Even the most proficient employee on the planet can’t know what you want them to do without you telling them, which means that the only way to ensure that your team is working effectively and efficiently is to set goals as clearly as possible.
Setting clear goals comes in more forms than simply communicating what you want out of a given project. Obviously informing your team of your desired outcome helps, but you’re going to need to be a bit more comprehensive if you want results. Designating the urgency of specific tasks, setting minor milestones on the way to a larger goal, and keeping objectives as concrete as possible are all ways to take goal-setting to a more effective level, particularly when it comes to productivity.
Studies show than 90% of people inherently perform better with relevant and challenging goals set ahead of time. Subsequently, setting goals is less a matter of organization, and more a matter of getting the job done – and done right.
This isn’t just true of long-lasting romantic relationships; communication is one of the most important aspects of effective project management. In fact, businesses with effective communication practices experience 50% less employee turnover, which makes this a matter of your company’s bottom line as well as your own management strategy.
To be clear, communicating effectively doesn’t mean communicating constantly. Checking in too often or providing too many instructions can absolutely have a negative impact on your team members, particularly if you haven’t built up a trusting relationship just yet. To communicate effectively, you must cater your management style to each employee, relaying goals and expectations accordingly. Otherwise, you’re going to have your hands full with a load of complaints.
Ask any expert, any project manager, or any person really, and they’ll tell you that risk management is vitally important when it comes to your management strategy. Risks, in this case, refer to any source – internal or external – that may hinder the progress or even completion of a project.
Risk management comes in many different forms as far as the business world is concerned. It could be a new parent having trouble juggling work and home life, it could be a student employee getting caught up doing homework while behind on a project, or it could be something as simple as having a team that works better in the morning than in the afternoon. A good project manager will be able to not only manage these risks as they present themselves, but also plan ahead for potential risks that may arise, so you aren’t playing catch-up when it really matters.
Depending on your industry, it can be pretty difficult to meaningfully measure exactly how well your team is performing. Specific metrics aren’t always easy to come by, which means that evaluating your team consistently is far from a walk in the park. Still, evaluations are key in effectively managing your team, so you need to find a way to do so consistently to make sure your team stays on track. So how do you evaluate your team consistently?
Successful managers track project progress daily, find smaller milestones to monitor, and check in often – but, not too often. Additionally, you’ll find that good managers don’t get too bogged down by the details. Perfection is the enemy of good, and evaluations are decidedly imperfect when it comes to the business world, so give yourself and your team a bit of leeway to avoid burnout.
What’s the point of having an entire team if they aren’t working together? Managers are always focused on how individuals are performing, but the reality is that projects are often completely by committee. The ability to effectively foster collaboration can make a big difference when it comes to the speed and quality of a finished project. But how do you foster collaboration when a global pandemic has resulted in more people working from home in their pyjamas?
A good project management tool is built to handle this kind of task remotely. Whether it be discussion boards, comment sections, or even a simple list of the collaborators on a project, fostering collaboration is all about providing the avenues towards working together and encouraging your team members to actually use them. And with 86% of executives citing a lack of collaboration as a major cause of failure in the business world, it’s safe to say that working together can make all the difference.
Making your employees feel appreciated for their hard work might seem unnecessary, particularly if it isn’t the end of the year or during personnel reviews. However, the employees of the modern era are significantly more open to feedback, particularly when it’s positive, and leaning into the celebration of workplace successes.
Stats show that up to 40% of employees say they would put in more effort at work if they were recognized for their efforts on a more consistent basis. Everything from a simple “great job!” to a full-on pizza party for completing a project can motivate your team to work harder, smarter, and longer, so why not throw some praise their way?
Utilize Project Management Tools
All these tips for improving your project management can seem pretty daunting. After all, setting goals, celebrating successes, fostering collaboration, and all of that will take time and resources that are likely already stretched pretty thin. That’s where a good project management tool can come in handy.
The right project management software is designed to handle all of these strategies and more. You can assign tasks, measure progress, track productivity, and yes, celebrate successes in a streamlined way that is as engaging as it is comprehensive. Granted, the added cost can hit your already non-existent budget, but the return on investment is decidedly worth it – particularly when you see how productive, communicative, and downright happy it will make your team in the long run.
About the Author
Conor is the Senior Writer for Tech.co. For the last five years, he’s written about everything from Kickstarter campaigns and budding startups to tech titans and innovative technologies. His extensive background in stand-up comedy made him the perfect person to host tech-centric events like Startup Night at SXSW and the Timmy Awards for Tech in Motion.