The project manager is the first line of defense against the breakdown of a project. He is like the Battalion Capt. in field that must keep the soldiers in line and working as a team. The basic responsibility of the project manager is to keep everyone else focused on the task at hand. Here are five ways in which they can do that.
1. Lead by example
No matter what management book you read, the advice always comes down to the project manager leading a focused effort by being focused himself. People will imitate the actions of the leader. So if the project manager seems to be imminently focused on the project at hand, willing to lend help to whoever needs it, the other members of the project will imitate this behavior.
2. Delegate properly
The second most important duty of a project manager is to note the relationships that are working within a project. Usually a project manager will have the record of past projects to help determine who works well together and who does not. The project manager will also affect the success of the project by delegating responsibilities to those people who are best suited for them.
3. Do not be afraid to change
If something is not working in the interpersonal dynamics or in the scheduling of the project, the good project manager will not hesitate to many project managers lose the focus of their project partners because they lack the courage to take care of glaring mistakes. People will not say anything directly to a project manager; they will simply begin losing respect for that person if that person cannot handle the duties of leadership. The duties of leadership include that the project manager must be willing to shake up the project if need be.
4. Going the extra mile
The project manager should be the person bringing coffee into the office in the morning. The project manager should be the person staying late with an employee who is pondering a difficult problem. The project manager should be the person who looks the most frazzled, running around from desk to desk checking on each portion of the project. The employees will see this and they will focus more on their tasks. People have an innate need to impress a person who in their view is a respectable, hard worker.
5. Keep meetings to a minimum
Meetings should not be on a specific schedule. This diminishes and even negates the power that the meeting has. People will begin to use these meetings as downtime rather than as the brainstorming synchronization sessions that they should be. Call meetings when they are necessary, and leave them out of the equation when they are not. The unexpected meeting also gives others the inspiration to focus, because they never know when they will be called upon to present their portion of the project. Keeping everyone on their toes is essential to helping them focus.
Maria Burton is one of the coordinators for Focus On Training. Her roles include organising all Prince2 Training courses and also Keeping the company blog up to date. In her spare time Maria loves Reading Crime novels as well as watching horror movies at home with her cat Stella.