Any seasoned Project Manager may look a few years older than they actually are. Project Management is stressful. Not stressful in the way that a good project manager cannot manage their timelines or tasks. Stressful in the people aspect.
Management of people, their personalities, their expectations (albeit unrealistic) and most importantly mood is a tight-rope-balancing act of note.
The biggest lessons I’ve learned while managing projects have been around people management.
If I could summarise my top 5 lessons, they would be:
- Clients and Developers are People
- There are days when the client is having an off day, but the development team is doing well, or times when the client is happy and the development team is struggling with something. Knowing when to push and when to hold back is so important. I can recall numerous times when the client pushed when the developers needed a little more time, and if I had asked the client to wait just a day, the mistakes would have been fixed sooner. Respect people and their emotions.
- People Forget
- Other times, a client was having a rough day, requesting changes which did not follow a change and sign-off process, was suddenly never asked for (even with email evidence). Both developers or clients could “forget” as a tactic or as a factor of a long project. Document to prevent amnesia.
- People make Mistakes
- I have created wireframes, sent it off to the client with a mistake they did not pick up, signed it off and when the development was in process and the error finally picked up, it took a while before the original mistake was found. Yes, I make mistakes (sometimes).
- Own up when you make a mistake and rectify.
- People need Continuous Feedback
- To avoid implementing incorrect processes, one needs to feedback to your clients and developers frequently if not daily. It is so easy to go down the wrong path, but with daily calls or even bi-weekly updates, huge mistakes can be prevented. Communicate often.
- People need Assurance
- Whether you are communicating with your client or developers, people are human and require assurance. Everyone wants to know that their project is on track and the developers need assurance that what they are doing is correct (and good). Who is a good boy or girl … who is a good developer ….
In all seriousness though, project management more than just a tracking of tasks in a project. The person running the project should be thick-skinned, but empathetic, strong, yet flexible and most importantly, know how to read a situation.