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Personal Development

How to manage a team through a project

There is no question that Project Management is one of the most challenging, yet rewarding career paths an individual can take. At the heart of it you must be a highly organised person who is results driven, yet easygoing, adaptable and genuinely likes a challenge. Much like the saying: rule with an iron fist inside a velvet glove; when you are managing a project you are effectively holding your ground, yet remaining flexible and open at the same time.

When taking on a project, no matter the size, you are betting against yourself and your team that you can get the job done within the allocated time frame expected. If you follow the tips outlined below then the good news is that you are in control of the game. However, with that said, it is not only about how you play; but the way in which you win that is key to your project’s success.

In short: managing a team through a project is about being a team player; a participant and an observer; an effective communicator and a bridge-builder between the many different personalities within your team.

How does one effectively manage a team through a project? Read on to find out:


Communicate to motivate

To start with you need to communicate the story behind the project and make it inspiring and memorable. Explain to your team about the "Where, What and Whys" related to the project and always remember to have your team communicate back to you their personal feelings. Engaging with your team as individuals and making them feel noticed and appreciated will ultimately build a strong bridge from the outset. This is the time to share the company’s vision, highlight the importance of the project and of course outline employees’ roles within the organisation. Ultimately, from the outset effective project management is the ability to get a team of individuals to work toward a common goal together. 


Identify your goals

Once you have linked the project and the team to the company’s backstory, it is time to get more specific. Explain in detail the project and its goals; outlining why they are desirable, viable and achievable. Make sure to also clearly communicate the benefits and risk factors included in the project. Physically writing down the objectives of the project, the greatest priorities and the main criteria involved in the initial planning session means that team members are clear from the outset which goals are the most important. The list can always be referred back to at a later date if outcomes become less clear.


Know your players

You need to know the individual strengths and weaknesses for each team member. Be mindful that you are utilising your team’s greatest assets and skill sets on an individual basis. It pays to be clear on the characteristics and personalities of individuals within the team, before putting them into roles in which they are best suited. According to Gallup, people who use their strengths everyday are six times more likely to be engaged in the job. Empower your team. Keep in mind that people subconsciously respond to the attitude of their leaders. For example, if you have low expectations of your team members and they feel this, they may underperform to meet these expectations. Conversely, if you have high expectations of your team they will more likely rise to the challenge


Check in 1-2-1 

Organise your time to make sure that you have regular meetings with your team. Be visible, even with remote staff and welcome contributions, respect opinions, open healthy debate and support independence in new starters. During these sessions you should:


  • Give feedback on “action items” such as job performance.
  • Discuss the previous week’s objectives and if they were met. Include what went well, what areas could improve and how that improvement might be obtained.
  • Learn about staff issues as they unfold.
  • Find out what exactly motivates your employees and use their feedback to improve ongoing satisfaction for both yourself and your team.


Be prepared for risk

It pays to keep in mind that projects are all about change and that change involves risk. A good manager will be prepared for risk and will also be supportive of people’s mistakes. Be there for your team and advocate for them in instances where you feel that they are worthy of being backed-up.

One of the best ways to manage any risks from the outset is to aim to reduce, detect and control. You can use methodologies like PRINCE2 to train specifically in these areas of Project Management.


Reward your team

Celebrate achievements by recognising your team’s progress by applauding examples of excellence throughout the project; on an individual and group level. You can always use incentives such as extra time off for an employee if work is completed ahead of schedule, a gift or meal out - remember whatever incentive you offer make sure that it is in line with company policy and is a reachable, but challenging goal. 


If you feel that a Project Manager role is your dream career, then check available opportunities here. If you are not sure that a Project Manager role is right for you, take a look at our quick test to find out if you are suited for this role.  


Written by Laura Tomlinson, Marketing Assistant at GoToJobBoard. 

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