Today I have lots of tips for new project managers.
I’ll put them as four lines of behavior for a new PM.
So, whether you joined a new team or it’s your first-time project management job at all – these tips work really well for the first few months of your work.
OK, I’ll use simple statements that describe your line of behavior. It’s easier to remember them this way.
#1: Let me prove I’m useful
So, let’s imagine you join a team as a new project manager. You know nothing about the way how this company does projects, you may not know the team yet.
And you are a junior project manager.
(For you, it will be even worse if you get a team that is already formed up.)
By definition, you can’t be very useful as a PM right at the start.
You need to learn about the environment. Or that’s your very first time as a project manager.
In any case, you need to be useful for your team in any other possible way.
But sometimes the best way to be useful is doing nothing.
Don’t become the fifth wheel from day one
Also, do NOT disrupt the work of a team that already knows how to work.
By all means, don’t make any dramatic changes until you are sure how this environment works. And here I mean both: the company and the project.
So, I recommend that while you get accustomed to your new project try fixing small things that frustrate your team members on a daily basis.
How to Introduce Yourself as new Project Manager
By the way, I have a video that explains how to introduce yourself to a new team. In this video, you can learn how to identify these small pain points that you can address. You can watch it now.
Moving on to the second line of behavior.
These lines work well together. You can and should try to implement all of them.
#2: I’m here to make your work easier
So, the idea is simple:
As a new project manager, take on everything that you can do from management and administrative perspective.
Yes, it’s antidelegation.
Things They Don’t Like to Do
Select things that your people don’t like to do. You’ll find many small tasks you can do for your team members to help them focus on the project work, on the area of their expertise.
So, take off any routine activities related to the maintaining working environment. Think about:
- Request tickets
- Emails to admins to set something up
- Any other errands that require communications
- Educate or articulating how to do and why to do some of these administrative tasks.
If they haven’t done it already and they are complaining about it. It means they will appreciate your help.
Write Emails for Them
Another big part is writing emails to clients or other stakeholders.
The majority don’t like writing emails. They don’t feel comfortable initiating a conversation.
Also, they don’t have skills and regular practice writing business emails.
So, it puts unneeded stress on them.
If you can write an email for them – do it. You’ll save lots of their time and nerves.
Reduce the Overall Stress Level
And in the same line, you should always be on the side of your team.
If they need more time to finish the work or they identify some unexpected risks or blockers. You need to try to make the work less stressful for them.
At least you need to try to negotiate with clients to add some time, move the deadline, or consider the risks.
When Should You Stop Doing it For Them?
But you might be wondering:
How long should you do all these small errands for the team?
You are not a secretary and I totally agree.
Your ultimate goal is to make your team’s life and work easier through your comprehensive project planning.
Your planning should include some margin for your team members to address all these small things.
When this happens – start giving back responsibilities for these administrative tasks back.
But do I recommend that you also provide some simple training on how to handle it all? Don’t assume it’s obvious and easy. It’s easy for you not for them.
People feel uncomfortable taking new responsibilities.
#3: I’m an expert in Project Management only
In no case, please, do not position yourself as a “I know it all person”. Even if you do have a technical background and you actually know more than other team members.
It’s not the way the project management works.
Start Acting as a Leader and Manager
In the long run, it’s not sustainable for you in the first place. You need to put on the leadership shoes and start using the strengths of people you manage.
You also need to stop making technical decisions directly. If you have an opinion on something you need to get buy-in from others. Or in other words, you need to sell your ideas.
That leads us to the ultimate goal of this line of behavior:
You need to shift towards controlling and using the project management aspect of the product or service you create.
You should not see it as a challenge you personally need to take.
This leads us to the last line of behavior.
#4: I don’t do project work unless I mess up project management.
No matter what your background is you should not assign and do work to create product or service.
Now, you are a project manager. You should reserve all your efforts to project management.
Even if you have spare time and nothing to do – you still don’t take project work.
Because right now you don’t realize you have much more project management responsibilities.
Fulfill All Your Responsibilities
- You are responsible to motivate people.
- You have nothing to do then do one-on-one meetings, create professional development plans, conduct performance reviews.
- You can also spend time writing out processes and workflows that people mess up most of all.
- There’s always some space to brush up project progress information.
- Think about ways to improve communication on the project.
- Spend time thinking about improving processes and the environment.
You got the point.
And if you want to learn more about all responsibilities of a project manager I have a video on that as well.
Tips for a New Project Manager
Let’s quickly recap what you learned today.
If you are a new project manager there are four lines of behavior that you want to keep to. And it’s easier to remember them with these simple statements:
- “Let me prove I’m useful”.
- “I’m here to make your work easier.”
- “I’m an expert in project management only.”
- “I don’t do project work unless I mess up project management.”
So, there’s no rocket science in being a junior project manager.
You can have no experience at all and still be useful to the team. And remember you should not break what’s working. At least until you know how it works.