Let's say you are a manager, you know your job well and your "upper class" has trust in you. Now, you are given the assignment to establish a team to solve a very important problem and you got the job because "you are good". "OK," you say, "but I'm not a project manager and I'm not a psychologist, what should I do? What to say to people, what to demand?" Don't worry, with just a little bit of preparations and strategy you'll lead your team in no time.
A project manager is a person who plans, organizes, and directs resources to complete a specific task. So, if you are not the one, you are still manager. That means that you must find the way to solved the problem. First, you know the rule No1: things must get done.
However, these hectic days of global economy introduced rule No2: you must do your job cheaper, faster, better and with fewer employees than ever before. If you are not trained in project management you don't know specific tips and tricks do get the job done, but we'll divide the whole process in a few steps easy to follow.
Rule No1: at the beginning be a control freak and try to think about everything that comes to your mind. A smart leader spends the most time and effort at the start of the project. He wants to get the start right because if you do the beginning lousy it's very hard to correct things later. Some leaders spend 50% of their time to planning before doing a simplest thing related to the task. Since you are under pressure that may seem as a waste of time but remember that planning is very important.
Rule No2: State the goals clearly. Without going into a philosophical discussion, we'll show you here some real-life examples. Wrong: "We must sell more products"; right: "We must sell 10% more products." Wrong: "We must improve customers' satisfaction"; right: "We must call everybody who complained and solve their problem."
Wrong: "We must establish our brand better"; right: "We must put ads in magazines for our target group." You can see the point: use plain English to define the problem. That way your team will understand what's to be done.
Rule No3: Make plan B. For example: "If we can't increase sales 10%, we need to increase it 5%." Plan B has two main advantages: your team won't be so disappointed if you don't conquer Mont Everest and - equally important - you can tell your superiors: "We saw that the original plan can't be done, so we devised another plan and we did it." Remember, CEO and chairman don't like to hear "We didn't succeed", but they like to hear "We adapted to the situation."
Rule No4: leave your team members alone. Of course, not absolutely alone but you shouldn't make the most common mistake and that's called "I'm God! You all follow me!" As a team leader, you should make plans and give directions, not control every single detail along the way. Let engineers do their job, let salesmen do their job, let quality control do their job, you can sit above and watch what's happening. If things are not going well give them advice and let them correct things.
Another advice in this category: do not ask for frequent meetings. Make communications informal and casual because frequent meetings are the best way in the world to destroy the best planned project lead by best men.
Rule No5: forget perfection. A perfectionist can't be a good team leader and project manager. It's always better to do 95 percent of the job on time than 100 percent late. When you are late that means that you failed completely, you simply did nothing. Why you see imperfect products on the market? Because they are near to perfection and while first users are buying it, teams are finishing their jobs along the way.
So, with those few simple rules you will do the job on time and your team, what's equally important, will be happy and proud. Congratulations - you made your first step in being a project manager! ■