Junior Project Manager Do’s and Don’ts For Success

Gabriel Nwatarali | 22.08.19 | 0 Comments

The big day has come and you’ve landed a job as a junior project manager. You’ve probably worked diligently for many months, weeks, or even years to get here. So congratulations are in order. Being a bit nervous is normal. You may be inheriting a project in progress or something entirely new as your first charge. There’s no way to predict the future. However, this article discusses key project management tips that’ll prepare you for the road ahead as a junior project manager.

Think about the following as you go through these project management tips for beginners. What can you do today to help ensure everything goes off without a hitch? Every project will be unique and require different action steps for success. However, the chance of success is increased for all your projects if you’re proactive rather than reactive. So let’s begin with the Don’ts.

Don’ts For Junior Project Managers

Mistakes are part of learning but being able to avoid them if you can is even better.

1. Don’t Forget to Assess The Project

The simplest way to assess a project is to speak with your predecessor if there is one. You can collect current project details (e.g. progress, needs, etc.) and receive a factual evaluation of where the project truly stands. Use the information provided to make sound decisions.

However, start by reviewing all the documentation about the project if you don’t have a predecessor. This way, you’ll have a good understanding of the project you’re leading. Review documentation like requirements, recent project assessments, project master plans, contracts, etc.

Also, be sure to check the status of each document to make sure they aren’t out of date. You want to avoid basing your decisions on data that doesn’t reflect the present-day realities of your project.

2. Don’t Disregard The Opinions of Others

Keep an open mind as a project manager otherwise you can’t learn anything. This means don’t disregard people’s opinions and learn as much as you can from other project managers, staff, including clients. However, don’t be a ‘doormat’ or someone that’s easily manipulated. Find a happy balance.

The habit of actively listening to others is a great way of building relationships so maintain open communications with all stakeholders. Look closely at the makeup of your staff. Try identifying everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, focusing on their strengths when delegating tasks. Ultimately, the goal is to collaborate with your team and other stakeholders in a way that facilitates project success.

A new project manager won’t know everything from day one. So don’t be afraid to ask questions. You’ll have more information to base your decisions on by listening to other parties involved. However, make sure you’re the one making final decisions and take full ownership of those conclusions.

3. Don’t Neglect Tracking and Organization

This is one of the most important project management tips. So stay organized and keep track of everything. You can use project management software to easily do both. In fact, 77% of projects that perform well use software tools.

For example, Monday is software that also provides customizable project manager templates. The software makes being organized, storing data, and tracking easier. Not to mention that staying organized will keep you sane and maintaining a track record ensures everybody is on the same page.

Dos For Junior Project Managers

Here are the things you should definitely do as a junior project manager.

1. Communicate Always

Learning how to be a better project manager mostly involves mastering proper communication. Take the time needed to understand your team or organization’s cultural dynamics. That’s going to be helpful when collaborating, which of course, involves effective communication.

Also, open communication with all stakeholders makes it easy to quickly identify critical changes that may alter a project’s course. So if need be, go out of your way to build rapport with people. Good communication is the main indicator of junior project manager success. That’s because it’s in everything you do.

You’ll need effective communication to do the following, and more, well.

  • Receive and relay important information that informs everyone involved. This includes communicating expectations and key project details to all stakeholders.
  • Effectively communicate any changes to the project in a concise manner that doesn’t create unnecessary problems.
  • Discuss issues with the team and find resolutions, including occasionally putting out fires in the case of conflicts. These take an effective communicator to do well.
  • Communicate in a manner that excludes project management jargon.

Consider using project management software to simplify the entire communication process. For example, Proggio is AI-infused software with automatically generated calls-to-actions among others, which is handy for expediting communication.

2. Manage Risk From Day One

Think about what could potentially go wrong with the project after gathering all the intelligence needed. This goes back to being proactive, which we touched on earlier. Your role as a junior project manager demands that you identify ways to eliminate or reduce the impact if those risks were to occur.

Every project you’re tasked with will have risks so formulate action plans and management strategies accordingly. Also, worth noting is that not all risks require action on your part. So it’s a good idea to prioritize what you pay attention to. The best practice is to focus on potentially project-crippling risks, using creative solutions to reduce or remove their impact.

Furthermore, document your approach to each risk. This displays competence, showing stakeholders that you’re in control. Your process should be somewhat as follows.

  1. Identify the potential risk.
  2. Thoroughly assess the risk.
  3. Formulate a plan to control or mitigate the risk.
  4. Review the risk controls you’ve put in place for errors or issues.

3. Ongoing Review of Project Successes and Fails

Some project managers still review their fails and successes when the project ends. However, that’s not enough today. While reviewing projects at the end is still beneficial for future projects, it’ll be too late to apply corrections to current projects. So your projects should be reviewed continually.

Regularly look at what’s going well and the things that aren’t working. Then apply lessons learned to the project in order to improve processes. Essentially, always think about how things can be improved or done better.

In addition, you have to be able to work on and in the project. That means you’re able to contribute to the project’s deliverables, resolve bottlenecks, but also assess the project, optimize processes, and strengthen team morale.

Challenges Will Make You Better

Every challenge you face will be part of learning how to be a better project manager. There’s going to be a lot to do. The details of projects can change, you’ll most likely have to resolve conflicts, and stakeholders will look to you for answers. So it’ll be stressful at times but that doesn’t mean you aren’t cut out for project management.

As long as you’re willing to learn and practice effective communication, you’ll excel in your career. Take all the advice you can get, assess your projects, and track everything. Plan for worse case scenarios and review projects continually. Plus remember that your team’s reputation is impacted by the outcomes of each project.

Finally, bookmark these project management tips for beginners so you’ll have it as reference. Have fun!

Gabriel Nwatarali
author

Gabriel Nwatarali is a digital marketer and designer, who has successfully helped several organizations complete complex marketing, including design projects. He's the founder of Tech Help Canada, a results-driven design and marketing agency. He also regularly contributes his knowledge of tech, digital marketing, and business to online publications.

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