Every project is different. And yet, the one constant that you—and every project manager before and after you—can be sure of is that your team (if you have one) and your stakeholders are looking to you to make their project a success.
Of course, your success and by extension, the project’s success doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You’ll be working in partnership with others internally and externally, and to manage this project well, you’ll need to manage their expectations.
A foundation of shared expectations about what the project actually entails, who is working on it and what they’re doing, when things are due, and how much they should cost, is buoyed by transparent communication, trust, and consistency. In this seminar, Brett Harned, a professional project manager, details his project management style, what he’s seen work in the wild, and how you can apply these best practices to your projects.
Harned makes a case for investing in the critical work of getting to know each other at the onset. As a project manager, you have to understand the team you’re working with and their organization’s operational norms. By asking probing and clarifying questions, you’ll uncover the organization’s culture and what needs to happen to get a project up and running successfully. By getting to know the key players who will be involved in various ways, you’ll gain clarity on how these people collaborate.
Once the project starts, in addition to keeping everything and everyone moving forward, you have the responsibility to continuously educate others. Information helps to set expectations. When everyone is clear about the expectations, stakeholders can feel confident about the direction of the project and can answer questions from above, below, and across the organization with ease. This makes them look good and makes them feel good about you.
The importance of a project scope document
- The scope gets everyone on the same page about the project, addresses what success looks like, and identifies any limitations and assumptions
- It’s your source of truth and a reference for all of your meetings and conversations to stay aligned on the project goals, vision, and requirements
- The scope document can prevent “scope-creep” and keeps everyone focused on what you’ve all agreed to do, by when, by whom, and for how much
What kinds of meetings to schedule, when, and why
- Start with the internal kickoff for just the team working on the project (no stakeholders) to review the scope and how you’ll work together
- Come together at the stakeholder kickoff to get to know your partners and gain alignment on both sides of the project
- Never miss the brief and regularly scheduled stand up meetings when every member of the team can give a task update and transparently flag issues before they escalate
How to use your communication style to maximize results
- Teams should share a common language, and you should never assume that your team or clients understand you or your work
- Identify your communication style—analytical, intuitive, functional, or personal—and how to best engage others with it
- Schedule frequent and regular status reports reviewing the work recently completed and highlight what’s coming next
By managing expectations and establishing (and sticking with) a project plan, you’ll be on top of all the aspects of the project and exceed the expectations of the team and stakeholders.