The first thing many project managers think about when starting a new project is what tools will I be using… is Microsoft Project available? Do I have the full range of office programs ready to go? What cool presentation tools do we have?
If that’s your biggest concern when you start a new project… well, I think you need to back up a bit. Project Management is first and foremost about people management. Forget about everything else you know (or think you know) about project management, because if you don’t manage the people right, you’re setting yourself up to fail.
Project sponsors, project team members, subject matter experts, internal management teams – these are all groups of individual people, all with different needs, wants, desires, fears, ambitions… all of whom you’re going to need to deal with on a day-to-day basis.
There is no way you can avoid this as a PM… this is 90% of your job.
Do you have a key project team member who is critical to the delivery of the project? Do you know when they’re planning on taking leave next? What happens if they’re planning on going on some amazing vacation for a week or two just when you’re expecting some serious crunch time to start… don’t you want to know about that as soon as possible (give you time to either change their plans, or yours).
Do you have to deal with a manager in one of the business units that is driven towards empire building and will resist any change coming from your project because it threatens those empire building plans?
Does your project sponsor start to feel nervous and want increased involvement if they don’t get constant updates that everything is fine and they don’t need to worry about the small stuff?
Is there harmony within your team – are the key team members getting the support they need? Do they feel overworked and heading for burn out?
Forget about technology and tools… spend time one-on-one with every person involved in your project, make it a regular thing. Every now and then, get them in an environment where they feel like they can open up (coffee shops are great), you won’t hear the truth you need to hear if they think other team members can overhear.
What are your tips for managing the people on your project? Leave a comment and let us know.