The core task of any business manager is people management. Your effectiveness at managing the people you interact with is the key component in deciding whether or not you will be successful at managing projects.

So, let’s break that task down into the important components:

Delegation with Transparency and Efficiency—“what are they working on?”

The first step in any project is to assign tasks to either your employees or outside contractors. The more time you spend in the beginning to clearly define milestones and project specifications, the better the end results will be. Encourage transparent progress reports that not only give you a chance to review the work in progress, but to also encourage the other members in the group to stay on track. If they can clearly see that they are the only one without any work posted, maybe that will encourage them to not procrastinate, by waiting till the last minute to start. The better you are at setting up this first step, the less time you will need when monitoring it. Baby-sitting projects can be time consuming and in-efficient. However, creating a transparent and straight-forward system makes keeping track of progress easy and fast. Effectively implementing this first system will benefit all of the following steps.

Collaboration for Results-“tell these two to knock it off and get the job done”

Collaboration is an important and necessary part of any project oriented team. Usually the biggest constrictors of this are a lack of effective communication channels and centralized management. Eliminate any possibly bottlenecks, but creating communication channels between workers. If you, as the manager, are the only one who can answer important questions that come up, progress will stop until you can respond. Decision-maker bottlenecks can also create a culture of micro-management, where workers rely on constant feedback and do not attempt to problem solve on their own or among their peers.

Shifting Prioritization “why are they working on that?”

Sometimes, the priorities of your employees or contractors will need to be changed. Your customer changes his or her mind, or suddenly you need more resources on a project that is now late. This happens frequently. Transparent and collaborative systems allow you to find the extra resources you need, while still being able to jump back into an older project without losing time. In addition, business transparency makes it easier for you to choose the right person for the job. Maybe one of your employees or contractors is finished with their portion, freeing them up for additional tasks. If your projects are not transparent, it may be hard to know where you stand.

Peer to Peer Coaching and Encouragement “can you help him get it done?”

Effective collaboration systems enable peer to peer support, by creating a medium for information exchange. Efficient project managers must encourage your employees and contractors to work together, and when possible, float resources around the group in order to achieve the highest levels of productivity.

Accountability-“are we going to meet the deadline?”

One of the most important pieces of information a good project manager always must have available, is the current project status and completion date. This leads back to the first step, where you setup your project expectations and milestones. You should be able to know the current project status at all times.

Worker Bandwidth – “what other projects are they working on?”

Knowing the bandwidth of your employees is essential when assigning projects and determining milestones. Promising a delivery date that is unrealistic will make you look bad when the project becomes late or over-budget. Effective people management starts by having a good understanding of current capacity levels.

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