Students majoring in project management spend much of their time working out solutions to a variety of potential problems in the business sphere. However, when they emerge from school and enter the workforce, these students rarely expect the sheer chaos that is the world of project management in action. Trained for an orderly career, these recent grads find themselves in the midst of a circus! There are always several things going on at once and it feels impossible to focus on just one project.
Whether you’re new to project management or have been at it for decades, you’ll find yourself occasionally (or frequently) overwhelmed. The good news is—project management doesn’t have to be like that. By taking the following steps, you can keep the chaos minimum:
It may be a piece of advice repeated to the point of becoming cliché, but that doesn’t make planning ahead any less important. The average project manager is required to maintain several projects at the same time without ever showing a sign of stress, just as the juggler must keep several balls in the air while making it look easy. It’s not sheer luck that allows the juggler to get through a tough act. Every motion is planned in advance so that it feels like second nature when the big performance rolls around.
Tools of the Trade
The circus wouldn’t be particularly impressive if it lacked several essential tools. Imagine a tight rope walker without a rope, or a trapeze artist with no swing. Without the appropriate tools for a circus performance, no great feats would ever be accomplished. The tools needed in the office may differ from those found under the big top, but they’re no less essential to the functioning of a business. An easy way to equip employees with the proper tools for a technological world is to invest in Sharepoint. This collaboration software promotes quality communication and a natural flow of ideas. It’s the ultimate tool of the trade for anyone who is a part of the modern workforce. Whenever you are ready to migrate to sharepoint, be sure to look for the right guides to make it as smooth as possible.
Occasionally, project managers will get swept up in the excitement of planning and wind up creating goals that are completely unrealistic. This is human nature and it’s completely understandable. However, if an unrealistic goal is pursued over a long stretch of time, it begins to drag down the poor souls charged with bringing it to fruition. Employees need to feel that they can speak up when a goal is completely out of line. After all, if a circus member noticed the trapeze swings had been placed too far apart, he or she would make a point of warning the trapeze artist, right? The same principle should apply in project management.
In general, a willingness to communicate and most importantly, listen, will take you far in project management. Flexibility and patience are also highly beneficial skills in the circus we call project management. Develop these skills and watch your career take off!
Kay Ackerman is a self-proclaimed tech geek and freelance writer, focusing on business technology, innovative marketing strategies, and small business. She contributes to www.technected.com and you can also find her on Twitter.