pm's role changing

Project Manager: how the role is transforming

The role of the Project Manager, according to the developments of Project Management, is in continuous evolution, driven by new technologies, new business models and a continuously developing workforce.

The tasks and responsibilities of the project manager are evolving. Today’s project managers do much more than supervise certain lists of activities that are part of a project.

Their role today has progressed significantly. Nowadays, a project manager works with more people, teams and suppliers and is faced with new challenges every day that the project manager of 10 years ago would never have believed possible.

So here are the five trends that are helping to change the role of the project manager, turning it into… a “modern” one.

A younger workforce

Technology is not the only field in which there is a growing shortage of talent.

A research conducted by the Project Management Institute, stated that employers will have to fill nearly 2.2 million project management positions on an annual basis until 2027.

Otherwise, the talent gap could result in a potential loss of approximately $207.9 billion.

What does that mean? That older project managers are retiring, making way for a new generation of professionals.

There has also been a significant increase in the number of jobs requiring project-oriented skills, which means more jobs in more fields and in different roles.
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Artificial intelligence will play an increasingly major role

The role of the Project Manager will be influenced by artificial intelligence.

Sure, we are still decades away from an era in which artificial intelligence will outperform human intelligence. Many people wonder that one day something similar will happen, but it is also a fact that artificial intelligence will play an increasingly larger role in everyday life and, consequently, in project management.

The purpose of artificial intelligence will not be to replace human workers, but to increase their skills and capabilities.

Artificial intelligence will make the work of the project manager leaner than ever before.

Many project managers know from experience that prioritizing activities and allocating resources is one of the most nightmarish parts of the job. In addition, researching and analyzing data is always a “headache”.

So wouldn’t it be nice if someone (or “something”) could take care of all this in a couple of minutes?

This is what artificial intelligence promises to do – indeed, what it is already beginning to do – for the profession.

Unstructured data generated by the daily activities of project team members can be entered in an analysis tool that will automatically re-elaborate them according to chosen criteria, thus increasing the visibility of the project and providing more in-depth information on performance and workflows.

This will allow a project manager to better target the efforts of team members, identifying weaknesses and efficiency opportunities.

Perhaps most importantly, activities such as daily reporting, progress monitoring and budgeting can be simplified through automation, freeing up the project manager’s time for other tasks that require completely “human” intervention.

As projects become increasingly complex, the efficiency of artificial intelligence will not only be a convenience, but will become a necessity.

“Journeys”, not projects

Many years ago, projects had a clearly set deadline. Once the desired output was achieved, the project was completed.

Of course, projects could be redesigned from time to time to release a new version, but the path from start to finish was more or less fixed.

Now it is no longer like that.

Today’s projects, rather than being static and unchangeable, are flexible and dynamic, with the potential to change shape and scope quickly.

They are processes that require a new and more flexible approach, combining traditional “cascading” methodology with “agile” development.

Variation and diversification of the PM’s skills

As the role of the project manager expands, so does the required skills.

Organizations are increasingly focusing on people and their skills.

Now more than ever, it is necessary to understand people just as it is necessary to understand projects.

This in itself is not entirely new, since project managers have always been leaders, coaches and mitigators in one way or another, but what has changed is the focus on emotional intelligence.

Knowing what the members of the project team can do is no longer enough, a project manager must also understand how they feel.

They need to be able to relate to people from different cultural and religious backgrounds, to find common ground between people even when, at first glance, there seems to be no common ground.

In addition, the growing range of different tools and platforms available to project managers requires constant training and updating their skills.

The Internet of Things

This is arguably the most disruptive trend of all: the Internet of Things (IoT) is increasingly becoming part of our lives, and so is the world of business and project management.

Combined with artificial intelligence, IoT is driving a hyper-connected work environment where project managers can equip themselves with faster reporting tools, deeper insights, better process management and more extensive project data collections than they ever imagined possible.

At the same time, this scenario isn’t free of challenges.

The security risks of the aforementioned hyper-connectivity are well documented. In addition, project managers will have to navigate through a minefield of potential legal, ethical and privacy issues.

  • How much monitoring is acceptable for a team member?
  • What are the controls for preventing a system error resulting from a single error?
  • What controls are in place to protect sensitive data and ensure that the organization does not violate the law?

These are not questions that project managers might traditionally ask themselves, but the IoT will definitely ask for an answer.

 

Ultimately, the role of the project manager is changing.

The days of techniques, scope, planning, budgeting, resource allocation and delivery of results on time are over and now it is necessary to include cross-skills such as conflict resolution, leadership and even trends towards additional management skills such as business modeling and strategic analysis.

These new skills are included in the new guidelines of the Project Management Institute (PMI) for the certifications needed to maintain the position: a new triad of skills called the “Talent Triangle”.

In short, the project manager needs strategic and business management skills to remain competitive.

Here are six tips to get a competitive advantage as a project manager in this time of change:

  • Develop business sense
  • Understand markets
  • Know industry trends
  • Develop relationships with stakeholders
  • Be straightforward
  • Know your business model

That’s the nice thing about project management: it has become a flexible and always adaptable discipline.

 

We have the tools, we have the culture.

weaknesses of the team

Determine the strengths and weaknesses of a team

Strengths and weaknesses play an important role in determining who we are, both for employees and project managers.

Strengths and weaknesses are vital because they help to decide which career paths to follow, which roles would be better to play and how to behave in those roles.

From a manager’s point of view, simply motivating a team in the classic way sometimes it’s not enough. The real secret to unleashing the potential of each team member and each team is to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the members of your team.

This information empowers leaders to make smarter job decisions, provide more effective performance reviews and ensure that every employee can grow and succeed.

However, strengths and weaknesses are often relative and employees alone do not know how to spot them and, above all, how to exploit them. It will be the Project Manager to have to fill this gap by performing one of the most important and delicate tasks assigned to him:

find these strengths and weaknesses and use this knowledge to promote the productivity and commitment of each individual team member.

How can you do that? Certainly it takes a lot of sensitivity and experience, but below we will give you some suggestions with which you can perform this task brilliantly:

How to find out the strengths and weaknesses of a Team: Be up-front and honest

Employees are often asked what their strengths and weaknesses are during interviews and performance reviews, but these answers are rarely reliable.

Attributes such as “results-oriented” can be vague and employees can only boast artificial strengths to increase the chances of a promotion or positive feedback.

Once the manager shows his or her most human side to employees, they are more likely to be honest about their strengths and where they are struggling.

An open, direct and honest conversation about strengths and weaknesses is a great way to start.

And why should we wait for the performance review meeting to launch the dialogue window?

Managers can foster a supportive environment every day of the year by expressing their strengths and weaknesses themselves and then inviting employees to do so.

The goal is to developing employees who know what they are good at and what they need to work on.

Managers should recognize employees to be honest, even when they make mistakes.

When expressing gratitude for courageous action, they also encourage people to share, without fear of making mistakes.

How to find out the strengths and weaknesses of a Team: Listen and observe

When working with the same people on a daily basis, it can be difficult to view them objectively.

Rather than a strength or weakness, you only see how a person behaves normally.

So you have to change the perspective: for example, if someone in the team is known to be always in a good mood and friendly, it could also be a natural diplomat.

Furthermore, weaknesses may not be blatantly obvious, for example, an employee who seems calm may actually be apathetic, disengaged and unassertive.

As a manager, you can only understand the distinction if you see people acting differently in a different environment.

Managers should therefore make an extra effort to consider each employee as objectively as possible and in a broader context.

Brief notes describing how employees behave on a daily basis can be a good way to look for key patterns and characteristics.

strenghts of the tema

How to find out the strengths and weaknesses of a Team: Internal competition

Competition is an effective way to make the best (or the worst) of employees emerge; it is a powerful motivator and can raise strengths and weaknesses in a qualitative and quantitative way.

Hosting competitions within teams and/or between organizations can be a fun and effective way to see who is a natural leader and who excels in certain areas. You may also want to read this Talent Management article in this regard.

This can be as beneficial in general as specifically: if you are trying to figure out who is the best person to lead a new project, why not run a contest to see who possesses the required skills?

In addition, a friendly competition promotes teamwork, which in turn will help increase team productivity in the long term.

It will certainly not solve the main problems in the workplace, such as lack of intrinsic motivation, employees poorly or erroneously assigned to certain roles or confusion about the overall business environment.

However, using internal competition to get people to focus on the task at hand and reveal their real skills can answer many questions.

How to find out the strengths and weaknesses of a Team: Communication and company intranet

Company social intranets contain an enormous amount of valuable information about employees’ strengths and weaknesses if you know how and what to look for.

Managers can watch and monitor user activity to learn more about them.

For example:

  • What kind of content do they publish and what does this reveal about their interests?
  • Do they often ask for help or seem confused about something? This could be a sign that they need further training or personal attention.
  • Are they more talkative in the intranet than in real life or vice versa?
  • What does the tone used say about their personality? Maybe they are better at writing, rather than verbal communication, or maybe they are shy when they are in front of a large group.

Social intranets can also provide insights about employees’ networks and relationships, as well as their attitudes to work. Corporate intranets can also give an insight into the company climate and organizational well-being.

 

Collecting these insights and information does not mean that the work is over.

Once the manager has identified the strengths and weaknesses of his or her employees, we will move on to the stage where these will need to be exploited to keep everyone productive, involved and working consistently as a whole.

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pm soft skills

Project manager’s soft skills

The skills required from project managers are manifold and among them we also find transversal skills, also called soft skills.

Soft skills help a project manager to understand different ways of thinking and to be able to make a heterogeneous group work together towards a common goal.

Transversal skills of a project manager are key to managing projects and people and often make a difference when it comes to retaining key talent, growing business or successfully completing one project after another.

Historically, organizations choose managers primarily according to their technical skills and proven training or certification and the extent of experience are the most common bases for hiring.

However, soft skills elevate hard skills beyond the constraints of merely training a project manager, the disciplines learned and personal beliefs.

So here are the 6 soft skills that are essential for the success of a project manager.

Project Manager’s Soft Skills: Leadership

Leadership is outlined in the PMBoK as “the capability of doing things through others.” In other words, it means inspiring people to do the work.

This is usually done by conveying the vision of the project and the value that team members will create by successfully completing the work.

This vision will lead to a holistic approach and team members will thus be able to understand their importance as individuals to achieve the common goal of the project.

Project Manager’s Soft Skills: Motivation

When people know that their work is making a difference – for stakeholders or even for themselves – then they remain motivated.

Ogni persona ha varie esigenze e obiettivi personali e professionali e questi devono essere soddisfatti.

For some people it might be financial compensation, for some it is a feeling of accomplishment by doing challenging work, for some it might be hierarchical growth and for others it might be official recognition of their hard work.

Knowing what motivates each of the team members and helping them achieve these things is a key task for the project manager to keep the motivation and morale of the team high.

Project Manager’s Soft Skills: Communication

Communication must be a two-way road: an open and honest channel from top to bottom as well as from bottom to top.

This means that when the project manager communicates transparently decisions and information, team members need to feel comfortable sharing their concerns, problems or even constructive suggestions with the manager.

Active open communication builds mutual trust between team members and also between the team and the project manager.

The project manager should then establish efficient channels of communication with each stakeholder, keep cultural differences in perspective and communicate information on a regular basis.

Project Manager’s Soft Skills: Active Listening

This is a communication technique in which the listener provides constant feedback to the speaker.

This way both the speaker and the listener ensure that the message has been communicated as intended and without misunderstanding.

To engage in active listening, the listener should overcome the impulse of wanting to speak immediately and instead focus on real understanding of what is being said by channeling his or her energies to re-transmit the communicated information in his or her own words.

Project Manager’s Soft Skills: Negotiation

soft skills of pm

Negotiation makes for good conflict resolution.

The project manager should make sure that they listen to both parties, make decisions fairly and justly, and communicate openly with both parties if problems of any kind arise during the project.

During the negotiation it is clear that it may not always be possible to please both parties.

A win-win situation for both sides is one where each side is able to compromise in order to reach a resolution.

Listening to and re-articulating the problem may highlight the presence of an intrinsic solution that neither side had been able to consider beforehand.

The important thing is that the project manager does not side with anyone, at least not from the beginning, and that the solution is objective and not biased.

Project Manager’s Soft Skills: Conflict management

Conflicts are part of any system, particularly when several individuals, different from each other, are involved.

Conflict management could easily be one of the key skills that a project manager needs to have in order to manage projects successfully.

There can be billions of reasons for conflict to emerge in the project team, for example:

  • Competition to obtain a poor resource,
  • Possible communication gaps,
  • Unclear requirements,
  • Personnel policies
  • Business environment

And more.

If well managed, a conflictual situation can even result in bringing people together and making them more focused on achieving the project’s objectives.

This all depends on a project manager’s ability to resolve a conflict of any kind.

 

So, the project manager through these – and many other – soft skills can create solutions, execute an objective plan to achieve results, build a team and manage a crisis when it occurs.

Successful project management requires more than just mastery of technical skills related to processes, structures and discipline; it requires a special set of skills to direct all resources towards a common goal.

By understanding the role of transversal skills and mastering relevant technical skills, it is possible to achieve improved profitability, less absenteeism and improved stakeholder relations.

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role of pm

Project Manager: the role and all you need to know

Project managers play a key role in every phase of the project life cycle, from planning to execution, from monitoring to control to completion.

The success or failure of the project and beyond may depend on them; the sustainability of a company may depend on their skills and competences.

Let’s try to provide insight about the role of the project manager and everything there is to know about this individual in this article.

First, let’s start with a central question…

…who is a project manager?

A project manager, as already stated before, plays a leading role in every phase of a project and is responsible for the scope, resources and, in short, the success or failure of the project itself.

With the help of their team, the Project Manager takes on multiple responsibilities across all five phases of a project’s life cycle.

These responsibilities are intertwined with the 10 areas of knowledge: integration, scope, time, cost, quality, human resources, communication, risk acquisition and stakeholder management.

Project Manager Responsibilities

Let’s see in detail, breaking each phase down, what the responsibilities of a project manager are:

1. Start-up phase

• Preparation of a project document
• Stakeholder identification and management

This involves defining boundaries or scope of the project and set it down clearly and identify the project stakeholders by including them in the stakeholder register.

 

2. Planning phase

• Development of a project management plan
• Definition and management of the scope, creation of a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) and requirements collection
• Planning, definition and development of programs, activities, resource estimation and duration of activities
• Planning, cost estimation and budgeting
• Planning and identification of quality requirements
• Planning and identification of human resources demands
Communication system planning
• Planning and identification of potential risks, conducting qualitative and quantitative risk analysis and planning of risk mitigation strategies
Expectations planning and management of the parties involved

 

3. Execution phase

• Direction and management of all activities involved in the execution of a project
• Quality management
Project team selection, development and management
• Management of all communication aspects
• Management of all stakeholder expectations

 

4. Monitoring and control phase

• Supervision and control of the project work and management of all necessary changes
• Validation and control of the project scope
Time management
Project cost management and control
• Quality check of the results
• Control of all communications within the team and stakeholders
Project stakeholder engagement control

 

5. Closing phase

Completion of all project activities
• Completion of all contracts and relationships with suppliers or third parties
• Drafting of a final project document inclusive of best practices

 

As you may have realized, to be a professional project manager is not enough just to possess the technical know-how.

This role also requires a series of non-technical skills and it is these soft skills that often determine whether a project manager – and consequently their projects – will be successful or not.

Project managers must possess at least these seven non-technical skills:

  • Leadership
  • Motivation
  • Communication skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Priority assignment
  • Problem solving
  • Adaptability

In conjunction with the necessary technical skills, these skills will make a project manager even more efficient, providing a strong background that will allow them to adapt to the ever-changing dynamics of a project.

pm responsibilities

Additional responsibilities of a project manager that few people mention

Aside from the responsibilities that we have already discussed and which are automatically related to the management of a project, there are others that are rarely mentioned but which nevertheless have a significant weight in the role of a project manager.

Here are two important ones:

Additional responsibilities of a project manager: Ethical Conduct

A project manager will inevitably be working with different types of individuals and organizations and will experience situations that can be addressed using one behavior or another.

It is the project manager themselves that sets the basic rules of behavior as a leader within their project.

Therefore, every day, a good project manager should do everything possible to lead the project in a professional and ethical way by referring to the PMI Code of Ethics

Additional responsibilities of a project manager: Motivating and training people

It’s easy to set project goals and deadlines that are too tight and often one might forget that people are involved and not robots.

It is surely important to provide challenges and responsibilities to the various team members as well, whilst paying attention to what their strengths and weaknesses are.

Each project manager is responsible for the motivation and the way their team works, even when working on a short-term project.

People need to be constantly motivated to keep their interest in the organization and the success of a project and, to increase productivity, a project manager will also need to assess any customized training needs.

The goal at the end of the project, besides its success, should be to have people eager to work again.

 

Bottom line, a project manager must remember that there are responsibilities inherent in their role, although the project management world is so vast that they cannot be engraved in stone.

If the project requires something special, the project manager must be prepared to take responsibility for it – or know how to delegate it.

However, it is very important to remember that it is the project manager who commands the vessel and that the team of “sailors”, no matter how experienced they may be, will always rely on them to determine the direction towards which they should sail.

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team building

Team Building activities for team improvement

Team Building activities can be an amazing asset for a Project Manager who needs to manage a team.

It can be hard to believe that you can have fun at work or with colleagues, but if you had the chance to work with forward-thinking companies you know that this is not only possible, instead it should be promoted.

Reasons are clear. Often the atmosphere in the office is boring, heavy and uninspiring. This can lead to problems that affect productivity.

For many years now, we have been trying to transform working environments into enjoyable places where positivity and relationships between colleagues are promoted. Companies know that a motivated team can increase productivity by up to 30% and more. On the other hand, we have already talked about this in this article on the company environment.

So planning some team building activities will not only relieve boredom, develop communication and create good memories, but will also bring interesting new ideas.

In addition, newcomers can also benefit from short team building activities that will allow them to integrate more quickly into the group and get to know their colleagues more easily.

What is the purpose of team building?

The idea at the heart of team building is to empower people to contribute to common goals and work in the same direction.

The very success of an organization depends on the ability of its employees to work in teams, understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses, show interest in each other and provide quality work together.

Here are some advantages that an organisation can see when it creates, according to the Agile methodology, a team with strong goals:

  • The level of productivity improves
  • Increased morale and motivation among team members
  • Improved collaboration in the workplace
  • Improved creativity among individuals
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Improved professional satisfaction among employees
  • Improved work quality

And much more.

Do team building activities really work?

Statistically, there is a lot of evidence that team building activities actually impact positively productivity and the workplace in general.

In particular, they work well for teams who are looking for new ways to improve their work and interaction with others.

The benefits of team building games and activities not only affect the way teams work, but also reflect the improvement of everyone’s overall personality.

The interesting fact here is that there are team building activities for every need and for every kind of team.

This means that if an activity is not considered suitable or not liked, there are dozens of other ideas that can be explored.

A major reason why such simple games and activities make a big change in a work environment is that they can help people get out of their comfort zones.

They provide team members with a means and platform to break the ice in an intimidating way and bring their teamwork to a whole new level.

What are the best team building activities?

team building activities

For starters, before choosing the best team building activity, it is important to identify the team’s needs.

The first and most important step in planning team building activities is to identify the team’s strengths and weaknesses.

You can start by asking the following questions to determine the root of any problems:

  • Are there conflicts between particular individuals who are creating internal divisions?
  • Should team members get to know each other better?
  • Do some members focus on their own success and, as a result, damage the group?
  • Is poor communication impacting on the team’s progress and productivity?
  • Should people learn to work together rather than individually?
  • Do some members influence the group’s ability to progress through resistance to change?
  • Does the group need a moral boost?

Once these questions have been answered, you can move on to choose one or more targeted activities to help the team deal with specific problems.

Let’s see some examples of team building activities:

Team Building Activities: Two Truths and a Lie

Problem: communication and icebreaker

Required time: 15-30 minutes

First, each team member should secretly write two facts about themselves and a lie on a small piece of paper – of course, the answers should not be revealed to anyone.

Once each person has completed this step, give 10-15 minutes for an active conversation, just like an informal meeting, where everyone discusses the three questions.

The idea is to convince others that your lie is actually a truth, while on the other hand, you try to guess other people’s truths / lies by asking them questions.

After the conversation is over, grouped in a circle, each participant repeats their three statements and the group decides what they think the lie is. This game helps to promote better communication in the office and allows colleagues to get to know each other better.

Team Building Activities: The “giant” puzzle

Problem: Problem Solving

Required time: 30 minutes

This problem solving activity involves the leader choosing a well-known image or comic book full of details.

The image should be split into as many equal squares as there are participants in the activity. Each participant then receives one of the “puzzle pieces” and must create an exact copy of their piece five times larger than its original size.

The problem is not knowing why or how one’s work might affect the overall picture. When all participants have completed their magnifications, they will be asked to put the pieces together into a giant copy of the original image on a table.

This problem solving activity will teach participants how to work in a group and will prove “departmental” work, i.e. the understanding that each person, while working alone, ultimately contributes to the overall result of the group.

Create your own team building activity

Required time: 1hour

The group leader asks the participants for help: it would be interesting to carry out a team building activity, but they don’t know any new ones and want support from the group members to find something original and never tried before.

The goal or problem, therefore, is to get each participant – or group of participants – to present a new team building activity appropriate for them. As well as being a problem solving activity in itself, this game also helps to promote creative thinking, communication, trust and time management.

 

Ultimately: team building activities are a fun and educational way to improve communication at team level, but it is important to identify the right activity to address the specific problem to be solved.

Only in this way will team building activities turn into a real success to boost morale and productivity.

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project roles

Managing roles and responsibilities of a project

Assigning roles and managing project responsibilities is certainly one of the most sensitive things a Project Manager has to deal with. You have to deal with sensitivities and expectations of team members, but at the same time you can’t lose focus on the project objective or business purpose.

Successful projects are usually the product of careful planning, talent and collaboration between the project manager, team members and other project stakeholders.

Projects cannot progress without every one of these key elements, but it is not always easy to clearly identify the roles and responsibilities that everyone should cover.

These roles may also be assigned to one or more individuals or, conversely, individuals may play more than one role depending on the structure and type of organization, as well as the scope of the project and its strategic positioning.

So, let’s try to define what the critical roles are to ensure the success of a project. Let’s see and explore at least 7 of them.

1. Project manager

We can’t but start by talking about the project manager (to whom we will soon dedicate an entire article), the main responsible for the completion of the project as initially agreed.

Depending on the type of project organization, typically a project manager leads the overall planning, execution, monitoring, control, and closure of the project.

This includes managing, reviewing, and prioritizing day-to-day project activities with the goal of remaining on schedule and within the project budget.

Their responsibilities also include executive status and reporting, risk analysis management, conflict mediation, communication management and stakeholder management.

The project manager usually uses project management software to plan activities and provide them a framework.

The main goal of these project management tools is to help the project manager prepare, execute, and control all aspects of a project or group of projects with optimal time management.

2. Project team

The project team consists of full-time or part-time employees who are assigned to work on different project activities and outcomes.

Having an interdisciplinary team with the right mix of skills and competences is key to the successful execution of any project.

Project teams, often identified and “put together” by project managers, may include internal staff from different departments and even different geographical areas.

Sometimes, project teams may also include suppliers, contractors, or external consultants, who have been explicitly grouped together for the project.

Their role is to successfully perform the project tasks and activities that have been assigned to them, keeping the project manager informed about the progress of the project, as well as any blockages and risks that may arise during project execution.

Project team members typically use project management software to see the tasks assigned to them, understand their work priorities, report progress and time spent on different tasks, and collaborate with other team members and the project manager.

3. Steering Committee

The steering committee is constituted by representatives of the management and other high-level stakeholders.

These individuals or groups with a direct interest in the outcome of the project supervise the whole life cycle of the project, providing guidance on the overall strategic direction.

They provide “leadership” support for the project, address issues raised by the project manager and decide on requests for changes to key elements of the project, such as final results, planning and budget.

4. Customer of the project

Clients are the individuals, organization or department for whom the project was started.

Whether it is an internal company project or an external project, each project has a customer who has a specific need that will have to be met by the successful completion of the project.

During a project, the role of the client is crucial to overall success.

They play an active role in approving project plans, requesting changes, increasing problems and risks, approving milestones, issuing payments and, most importantly, accepting (or declining) the final results of the project.

5. Project Management Office (PMO)

The Project Management Office, or PMO for short, is a group of individuals who help build and maintain a set of standards and best practices for internal project management and oversee their application in every project.

In other words, a Project Management Office is an organizational structure that standardizes project-related governance processes and facilitates the sharing of resources, methodologies, tools and techniques.

As more and more projects gain strategic importance, PMOs help to manage and execute them in a more predictable and controlled way, ensuring standardization of project management practices to achieve scale economies and thus improve overall project success rates.

project responsibilities

6. Resource Manager

Although limited in number, many organizations have this role as a dedicated Resource Manager, whose primary responsibility is to manage groups of resources available and assignable to projects.

The Resource Manager works closely with the project manager to coordinate resource capabilities and workload and is responsible for assigning the right people to the right projects at the right time.

The Resource Manager plays an essential role in capacity planning to ensure that resources satisfy project requirements.

He is also primarily responsible for managing skills management, continuously assessing the training needs and career development of employees working on projects.

7. Project sponsor

The project sponsor is the project’s pilot and internal champion.

Generally, they are top management members, those with an interest in the outcome of the project.

The project sponsors work hand-in-hand with the project manager and validate the project objectives by participating in the project planning.

Moreover, they often help resolve conflicts and remove obstacles that occur during the project and sign the necessary approvals to move each phase forward.

Tasks of the project sponsor:

  • Make key business decisions for the project
  • Approve project budget
  • Ensure resource availability
  • Report the objectives of the project throughout the organization

Bottom line, in order for a project to be successful, a whole team effort is required.

The roles and responsibilities assigned to team members and various stakeholders can be small or massive, but in the end every role and responsibility is important because the project can only be successful through efficient teamwork.

We have the tools, we have the culture.

business climate

Business climate and organizational well-being

Business climate, organizational and individual well-being and employee commitment are related to important organizational results, such as productivity, health and employee commitment.

These elements are complementary and mutually influential.

Work plays a key role in the health and well-being of employees and it is important to know the negative impact on organizational well-being and, consequently, on employees.

Instability and insecurity in today’s work environment demand the promotion of sound organizations and activities as part of a primary prevention approach.

In healthy organizations, culture, business climate and good practices create an environment that promotes employee health and safety and organizational effectiveness.

A healthy organization promotes healthy and successful business, thus emphasizing the strong link between organizational profitability and employee well-being.

As organizations grow, both in terms of number of employees and in quality and complexity of service, the human component has become a primary competitive advantage in the market.

Therefore, many organizations are competing heavily for talented, educated, creative and dedicated employees (this article on talent management may come in handy for you).

This is how the business climate and organizational well-being become a priority in the market.

Why is organizational well-being important?

Let’s get this straight: an active adult spends at least a third of his day at his workplace.

Therefore, a large part of an individual’s satisfaction depends directly on their working conditions and the climate in which they work.

Naturally, the same theory applies in the opposite direction: the more unhappy and frustrated one is at work, the more the quality of life decreases by a considerable amount.

Studies also show that individual well-being is able to produce long-term beneficial effects on the organization due to the increased commitment of employees in the workplace. We have already talked about how to make the work environment more pleasant to improve team efficiency.

Those individuals who work in a supportive business climate tend to see their workplace as positive, productive and engaging.

Furthermore, managers will benefit from investments in well-being in terms of an open organizational culture that challenges and engages employees and will certainly keep them loyal to their company.

Here are the 5 elements of organizational well-being that transcend countries, cultures and sectors.

Each of these elements can be considered universal and can be applied to any organization.

Professional well-being: how to spend your time and how much you enjoy your work

To make sure that most employees enjoy their work, it is important that they remain aware and informed of the impact their work has on the whole mechanism: from the company to the customer to the rest of the team.

It is not unusual to find out how some employees may desire different tasks or positions, so it is the project manager’s job to keep an open discussion and hear whatever messages they may have.

Afterwards, if the proposal is successful, they can be moved to different roles or even departments within the organization, ensuring that talent is retained within the organization.

Social well-being: strong and healthy relationships in employees’ lives

organizational well-being

Although it may seem that this chapter focuses solely on the personal lives of employees, a large part of the satisfaction that comes from healthy relationships also comes from positive relationships with co-workers.

Every positive interaction with others is beneficial to the quality of the workplace and a chance to reduce conflicts at the company level.

Here the options are plenty and varied: informal hang outs, themed evenings in the office, professional team building programs, lunch breaks, etc.

The relationship with your immediate supervisor or project manager is also of fundamental importance for employee loyalty and satisfaction.

A relationship is not a one-way process, but depends on the “work” that both parties are willing to perform.

The employee may therefore be inclined to have a good relationship with their manager, but the supervisor must do the same.

Financial well-being: managing the economic profile of employees effectively

The starting point for this discussion is a paycheck that the employee considers to be fair and satisfactory in return for their work.

An increasing number of organizations are tackling this and, indeed, have started to offer side benefits in order to create consent and certainty among their employees, such as medical and life insurance, private provision, etc.

Training and awareness of issues such as personal financial management, investments, credits and personal savings could be of great help to employees, especially younger or newly hired employees.

Physical well being: good health and the energy needed to tackle everyday activities

As previously noted, there are organizations that care about employees’ health and offer them healthcare and medical insurance.

Sometimes they even offer gym subscriptions or yoga classes.

Likewise, just as it is important that a company takes care of the physical well-being of its employees, it is equally important that it takes care of the psychological well-being.

There are countless cases of burnout, depression, extreme frustration in the workplace that remain unnoticed.

The project manager and the closest colleagues have the opportunity to notice more easily when a member of the group is struggling and therefore immediately offer assistance and support.

Community well-being – a sense of commitment to the environment

A standard custom for organizations is to participate in social awareness campaigns: charity, support to NGOs, ecological activities, volunteering opportunities for employees, etc.

Whatever action is taken towards the community increases employees’ pride and sense of belonging, giving them the opportunity to be emotionally involved in the organization’s businesses.

 

Ultimately, the vast majority of studies show that a workplace where well-being is a priority is beneficial for all: for management and management, in terms of profit, productivity and employee loyalty, and for employees in terms of quality of life in general, loyalty and personal satisfaction at work.

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increasing group cohesion

7 tips to increase working group cohesion

Having a strong, cohesive team, is the dream of every Project Manager.

Working in a team has become common in many organizations, but working with others may not always be easy, especially when team members disagree with each other.

This can lead to serious consequences, such as not finishing a project on time or breaking the budget.

Instead of angering in case of disagreements, groups should therefore learn to stick together and communicate in every situation.

If a group is cohesive, members are more motivated to work together towards a single goal, which will lead to success.

So, how can we increase the cohesion of the working group? Let’s see our 6 tips.

What is the working group cohesion?

Group cohesion results when a group of individuals feel connected and moved to achieve a common goal.

Team members respect, trust and support each other.

While cohesive teams are often made up of people with different skills, what unites them all together is a strong sense of identity drawn from the organization itself where they share values, goals and processes.

In a way, a cohesive group can be compared to a group of fans following the same sports team in search of a collective victory.

Team cohesion is important because this social and professional connectivity can create a culture that inspires employees to remain loyal to the company.

With team cohesion, the team will feel comfortable in their work environment and satisfied to be part of something greater than themselves and the individual.

How to increase working group cohesion

Team cohesion isn’t always immediate and is generally the result of targeted actions taken by managers to promote positive group dynamics.

Here are 7 tips that a project manager can adopt to increase team cohesion:

1. Set objectives and values

Before beginning to work on team dynamics, it is important to have the team’s goals and values in mind.

If the organization does not already have a clear mission or vision, now is a good time to create it.

These elements will provide team members with a clear and shared picture of what they are working on.

2. Provide training and development

In order to maintain a strong team cohesion, each member of the team should feel qualified enough to contribute to the overall objective in the first place.

Upon recruitment, employees should be provided with clear information on their responsibilities, as well as adequate training to ensure the efficient performance of their work tasks.

Over time, employees should improve their work and to do so, they will need opportunities to develop their skills.

This can be achieved through cross-functional collaboration within the organization itself or through company-sponsored conferences, programs or training courses.

This will help team members feel adequately prepared and move forward in their careers within the organization.

3. Support team building

Part of team cohesion is also based on the self-esteem and morale of individuals.

Embarking on team building activities can be a great way to build the empathy and respect needed within a successful team.

As employees interact with each other and get to know each other beyond their work roles, team cohesion will increase.

group cohesion

4. Promote and enhance communication

Team building only works with unambiguous and continuous communication and the project manager is in charge of providing the appropriate resources to accomplish this.

Everyone should be able to connect easily and comfortably with their colleagues, without blockages or interruptions.

Here’s how establishing different communication channels to help the team stay productive and involved becomes essential, such as choosing project management software that includes an instant messaging feature, so that even remote teams can remain easily connected and cohesive without distractions.

5. Build trust

When establishing channels for interaction, it is important that team members feel comfortable with open communication.

Whether they are discussing with the project manager or a colleague, no one should be reluctant to express their thoughts and ideas.

Team cohesion will not be achieved if secrets are being kept at the management level, even if unintentionally.

6. Celebrate success together

Celebrating success – big or small, as a group or individually – is key to maintaining the cohesion of a team.

When the entire organization works towards shared goals, it is appropriate to share the results as a group.

The project manager should remember to thank the team members for their hard work and, in the case of important successes, also give a recognition.

7. Have fun

Lastly, have fun.

This does not mean that work has to play second fiddle and that time has to be spent telling jokes, but seeing the workplace not just as a boring, dull office can boost employee morale.

At minimum you work 8 hours a day and if every now and then, for about ten minutes or so, team members find themselves telling funny stories about their lives, the project manager doesn’t have to worry, on the contrary.

Opening up and getting to know each other can only be seen as a positive element.

 

Group cohesion is therefore the best way to ensure that all talent is maximized while increasing employee commitment and satisfaction.

This lasting bond will keep the team productive and more effective than ever before and projects can only succeed.

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remote team

6 strategies to lead a remote team (remote leader)

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic we are currently experiencing, many companies – rather than closing down completely – have been forced to implement remote working.

This poses a new challenge for all employees, but it becomes even more so in the case of project managers and those who are leading a remote team for the first time.

Not having your employees present in the same office and not having a face-to-face contact in an ever-changing market where priorities are constantly shifting, certainly becomes a major obstacle.

So let’s see what are the 6 strategies that a manager can adopt to lead a remote team.

6 leadership strategies to manage a virtual team

Many effective management practices with co-located teams can also be applied to virtual teams, but some important changes are still needed to address the unique challenges that a remote team entails.

Managers dealing with this new challenge should therefore consider these six strategies:

1. Keep all team members communicating closely

Creating a sense of teamwork is a key factor for the success of a project, especially when team members cannot interact directly with each other.

Regular communication between all is therefore essential to gather people together and promote a sense of inclusion, while at the same time providing continuous opportunities for input and feedback.

Whether it’s video conferencing, email, instant messaging or other methods of contact, team members need opportunities to participate, share ideas and results and continue to communicate smoothly with anyone from anywhere.

2. Maintain a supportive mindset

In a hierarchical organization, competition is often implicitly or directly fostered between individuals, departments and divisions.

In a time when employees are no longer close to their desks, the result could be a shift in mindset that causes the individual to be selfish and no longer focused on the good of the group, damaging the ability to work together for common goals.

This spirit of competition that reigns in every individual must be, even at a distance, kept at bay so as not to undermine teamwork.

The focus must be kept on promoting cooperation in which the interests, talents and skills of all team members are encouraged and emphasized.

3. Set out the purpose and objectives of the team

Remotely, it is difficult for employees who are not used to working in this way to understand their reason of being and their contribution to the organization in general.

Without this understanding, team members are unlikely to be fully involved and motivated at work.

It is therefore important that the manager should regularly remind them of their purpose towards the team and the company, especially when the virtual team members are working individually to perform certain tasks.

4. Define unambiguous performance standards

In the office, each team must meet certain performance standards and expectations and this becomes particularly important in remote work, where the manager cannot directly monitor and control employee behaviour.

This means that the leader must set clear parameters, suggest the sharing of best practices and define the standards against which everyone’s performance will be assessed.
lead a remot team

5. Adapt coaching strategies for managing distance

An effective coaching and support is a real challenge for the manager who needs to manage a virtual team.

A remote team leader must set individual and group expectations, monitor everyone’s progress and provide feedback, just as they would in the case of “traditional” office work.

Even remotely, the manager must schedule regular appointments to provide feedback to each team member, for example through a Skype video call – at a time like this, seeing each other, even if online, is surely important.

6. Celebrate achievements and successes

Feeling part of a team means not only working together, but being credited for sacrifices and achievements.

Virtual team leaders should not forget to reward team members for their outstanding performance or achievement, thus reinforcing the collaborative mindset we were talking about earlier.

Surely in this difficult time it is not possible to organize some office party, but the manager can still send a positive signal by sending a collective email to congratulate a successful project or, in the most important cases, send gift coupons as an incentive to maintain high performance.

 

By implementing these 6 straightforward strategies, leaders who have to manage a team remotely can overcome the barriers that could decrease performance at a time like this.

Because of the Coronavirus, many project managers are facing this challenge.

By working together in the proper way, however, it is possible to continue to create a competitive advantage in a global market that is currently experiencing an unprecedented crisis and where the rules of competition are constantly changing.

Already many organizations, even before the Coronavirus outbreak, have approached remote working and we are sure that, once the situation returns to normal, there will be many more companies that will officially introduce home working into their policy.

So, while managing a remote team is definitely a special challenge, this introduction – more or less forced as it may be – can be an enriching, rewarding and productive experience for the future.

Improve your home working with Twproject.

evaluate the team

Evaluating the work of the team

How is the team’s work assessed and measured? This may seem like a trivial question, but it’s not actually trivial at all.

Evaluating your team’s work correctly can be far easier than it might seem. Also, there is often talk of improving teamwork in an organization. A correct evaluation of the work done is definitely the first step towards this improvement.

It is quite obvious that evaluations can take place in many ways. An example of an approach consists, for instance, in measuring the team’s output: the hours invoiced, the units sold, the number of clients acquired or whether the team completes a project on time and within budget.

Keeping track of these actions is easy because they are concrete and you can see at a glance how the team is improving against basic performance.

Although sound, this approach can be a bit disappointing because it does not show who is doing what in the team and how members have worked together to achieve their goals.

In short, the numbers are not enough and it is much more efficient to add qualitative measures and assess the extent to which the team is demonstrating its key teamwork skills.

When to evaluate the team’s work

Team assessments provide more value to the team on some occasions than others.

Unfortunately, these assessments often tend to be carried out in search of a scapegoat after things went wrong.

Even though this is a perfectly legitimate reason for an evaluation, organizations can gain more benefit when they do not consider group evaluations as a response to difficulties.

Conducting evaluations before problems arise can avoid or mitigate them, potentially saving time and money.

Here are some great times and motivations to conduct an assessment of the team’s work:

  • Strengthening a team that’s struggling
  • To launch a new project in the best way
  • Helping a team to grow
  • When some team members are changed
  • Bonding teams and start-ups in remote team settings
  • Before a great strategic change
  • As part of team development to compare performance on a regular basis

Team assessments also offer value to established teams, especially when there is a change in the organizational context or when the team is preparing for a new project different from those carried out in the past.

8 steps to take to correctly evaluate your team

We wanted to create a checklist so that you can properly evaluate your team. Hopefully it will come in handy, let’s take a look at it together.

Knowing expectations and needs

First of all, you need to know what the expectations and needs of the organization in general are. These can be a variety of valuable objectives, such as streamlining internal processes, increasing sales, reducing staff turnover or improving employee morale.

Talking to team members

The project manager should spend some time talking to team members, first in groups and then individually, to learn about their feelings, concerns, goals and ambitions about their progress and obstacles in activities and roles as well as in the work environment in general.

Listening carefully

When the project manager talks to team members, they must also listen carefully. Sometimes you can read between the lines when an employee is trying to act diplomatic because they fear recrimination or even losing their job.

Identifying the challenges team members are facing

These challenges may be obvious and predictable factors, but project managers should also be aware that while some problems are internal to the organization, others occur in the employee’s private life and can also have consequences in the workplace, causing the person to become tired, irritable and stressed.

It is obvious that these factors must be taken into account when assessing the work of the team.

evaluation of the team

Ensure that existing procedures and systems are in place and actually work

Sometimes systems can be installed but do not work, making the team’s work more complicated than it should be. This can reduce productivity and increase levels of frustration.

Requesting external feedback

Ask for feedback from customers – where possible – or even suppliers about how they view the team’s work. This can be done either by anonymous survey or in other ways. Getting feedback from all stakeholders is an important measure that can help to assess the work of the team and to understand if the direction the organization is going in is the right one or not. However, it is worth remembering that it is impossible to win everyone’s approval.

Making the necessary changes and monitoring

It is no surprise to learn that a negative assessment of the team’s work is also caused by a lack of feedback, follow-up, leadership and monitoring from the manager. Therefore, the project manager must make sure that they are present before assessing – especially if negatively – the members of their team.

Creating a team evaluation process

In general, creating a process for the evaluation of the team’s work can make things clearer for both the project manager and the team members. Here are some examples of questions that might be included:

  • Does the person show up on time at work?
  • Is the person well prepared for the meetings?
  • Does they take responsibility or do they always find an excuse when things go wrong?
  • Do they focus on the needs of the team and not on their individual successes, failures or wants?

 

Clearly, it is crucial that team members receive feedback after the evaluation. Feedback is even more valuable when it is conducted with solid data.

Team evaluations help an organization to visualize and achieve broader results and objectives, making them an integral part of the evaluation process.

It is essential that the project manager avoid public criticism from team members at all times.

If negative feedback is needed, the person should be called separately to discuss the performance evaluation calmly and without pressure.

Moreover, the project manager should give feedback on how to improve and achieve the objectives by outlining, if necessary, a training or mentoring program.

Generally speaking, each team works differently, so it is important to choose evaluation methods that help prioritize results and areas for improvement that fit the overall business strategy.

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plesant working environment

Improve team efficiency by creating a pleasant working environment

Can the efficiency of a team be improved by creating a more pleasant working environment? The answer is yes!

Workplace happiness is based on several aspects and its perception may differ from one employee to another. A great leader, challenging projects, recognition and rewards, stability at work or a pleasant atmosphere, just to name a few, can play a different role and importance in each member’s mind.

As a project manager, creating an environment that brings out the best in team members is key to the success of the organization.

In fact, research shows that decommitted employees have:

  • 37% above average absenteeism,
  • 49% more accidents,
  • 60% more mistakes in work activities.

So it seems that not caring for the happiness of one’s employees can become costly. So let’s see what are the tips to improve the efficiency of the team by making the working environment pleasant.

Improving the efficiency of a Team: Organizing team building events

Amusement leads to happiness.

Holding team building events where employees play together, laugh together and solve problems together contributes a lot to their happiness.

Team building events – if well planned – inspire people to stay in the workplace and even promote creativity.

Whether it’s an afternoon in an escape room or an adventure in the woods, team building events can be countless.

Improving the efficiency of a Team: Greeting the team

It may seem like a small thing, but in reality, greeting employees means a lot in the workplace.

Team members want to feel regarded, so the manager can give them a little positive boost in the morning, greeting them warmly with a smile or a pat on the back.

Also, asking the team how the weekend or a particular event went helps a lot to deepen the bond and makes the work environment more “familiar”.

A project manager with an optimistic and genuine approach increases the team’s self-esteem, making each employee more motivated.

Improving the efficiency of a Team: Praise and give recognition when necessary

Feeling undervalued at work is the first reason why an employee quits his job. This reason has even more serious repercussions than low wages, limited days off and poor work-life balance.

So here’s how offering praise and recognition when necessary will make the team enthusiastic and eager to contribute to company-wide initiatives.

A great project manager might ask team members how they prefer to be rewarded or complimented on a job well done.

For some, it could be a “public” recognition during a meeting, while for others, it could be an individual positive feedback session.

This recognition also shows that the project manager cares about the well-being of their employees.
create plesant working environment

Improving the efficiency of a Team: Making work satisfactory

Everyone wants to hear that what they do at work is important.

In order for team members to feel good about the work they are doing, they need to fully understand the mission and purpose of the organization.

Giving an overview of what each department does and why it does it allows team members to feel more connected to the organization and to understand where their part of the work fits into bringing a project to success.

Improving the efficiency of a Team: Making work/life balance a priority

The concept of work-life balance has become a priority in many workplaces.

Team members must have a clear understanding that they are valued as loyal employees and as people who also have a life out of office.

The work-life balance can be improved by offering, for example, a few days of work from home, unlimited vacation days, discounts on health and wellness programs in facilities close to the company or childcare options.

Offering incentives that improve a team member’s overall quality of life shows that the organization and manager cares about their well-being.

Improving the efficiency of a Team: Promoting well-being in the workplace

Whether it’s healthy food, exercise, meditation or awareness strategies, promoting well-being in the workplace is a great idea and therefore helps to increase productivity.

Many new wellness programs have been developed specifically to improve the work environment so that it is easier for employees to adopt and maintain healthy behaviors.

It is possible to create a culture of well-being by implementing these strategies:

 

  • Prepare and share a list of healthy dining options within a predefined radius from the office.
  • Organize bike racks and provide information resources about the benefits of cycling to work.
  • Negotiate company discounts for memberships in wellness centers and gyms.
  • Hire a yoga instructor or meditation specialist to come to the office once a week or a month to help reduce team members’ stress.

Showing team members how important it is for them to have a healthy lifestyle is a way to show them how important they are to the organization.

Improving the efficiency of a Team:  Launch an individual development plan

An individual development plan is a mean to assist employees in their career and personal development.

Its main purpose is to help employees achieve short and long-term goals and improve their current work performance.

An individual development plan can be used to develop a better understanding of each team member’s professional and personal goals and objectives, including strengths and areas in which everyone wants to improve.

This shows employees that the organization is seriously investing in them as individuals and puts everyone on the same level to achieve personalized goals.

Improving the efficiency of a Team: Use feedback as a mini-mentoring tool

Effective leaders understand the power of feedback and use it to offer constructive criticism and positive recognition, removing any doubts or negative thoughts of the employee and communicating how an individual’s behavior aligns with the company’s results.

Through feedback, a leader can drive an employee away unwanted behavior and cement positive thinking and behavior that leads to personal and professional excellence.

Feedback sessions should be two-way conversations in which the employee can ask questions and raise concerns. You can use this article on how to get feedback from the project team.

If team members are afraid to ask a question, this is a warning signal of a big problem.

It is therefore important that the manager makes sure to be transparent and open in his approach so that both sides get the most out of the “mini-mentoring” session.

Improving the efficiency of a Team: Step out – from time to time – from the work routine

Just sitting at a desk in the office all day or chatting with clients for long periods of time, day after day, can undoubtedly become boring and routinary.

So the manager can surprise his team by holding the next meeting outside the company, perhaps in his favourite restaurant for lunch or in a meeting room in a building surrounded by greenery.

Also, many American companies have introduced the “Casual Friday. On this day, employees are not required to follow the normal dress code in the office and may freely wear Hawaiian shirts, flip-flops, shorts, etc.

This will make the team members extremely productive during the day, but also during the following working days, since they should be well rested, refreshed and more than ready to face projects with new vitality.

 

The working environment could also improve the efficiency of the team. There are many companies that have left it to their teams to decorate and make the look of their office to their liking.

To ensure that these implementations last for a long time and that they actually lead to an improvement in team efficiency, it is crucial that they are implemented regularly and become an integral part of the organization.

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project coordinator

The Project Coordinator

Project coordinators are individuals that project managers sometimes need for their project management.

There are already many articles that explain the work of a project manager and his responsibilities in detail, but let’s take a look at this article to better understand who is the project coordinator.

First of all, to get a general idea of where the project coordinator is in the general structure of the organization, it is important to map the different roles in project management.

The project coordinator is the person who reports to the project manager and is immediately in the next tier of the chain of command.

Project manager vs. Project coordinator

Whilst project managers and project coordinators usually work side by side, it is very important to differentiate these two roles.

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The project coordinator is in charge of collecting all the necessary information for the team and the project manager and distributing it correctly.

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Every information or update that the team needs should be easily accessible, thanks to the project coordinator, throughout the project lifecycle.

Meanwhile, it is the project manager’s duty to oversee the planning of the project until its completion.

In the end, the project coordinator is tasked with streamlining and simplifying some of the project manager’s functions in order to facilitate everyone’s work.

Quality of the project coordinator

A project coordinator will coordinate, needless to say, the project program, budget, issues and risks.

It is his job to make sure that the project is well organized and runs smoothly and this may include communication with various departments of the organization to make sure everybody is on the same page.

Project coordinators must stand out in a hectic and challenging work environment and be prepared to be the project manager’s right-hand man.

Furthermore, project coordinators may have experience and technical knowledge in specific areas and may be assigned to specific departments according to their qualifications.

There are many qualities that define a successful project coordinator; here are the most important ones:

  • Detail-oriented: attention to detail is essential when supervising many different aspects of the project, all of which are key to the successful completion of the project.
  • Reliability: the project manager will answer to the project coordinator to manage the small details of the project management and, therefore, it is essential that the project coordinator is reliable and does not work against the project manager’s guidelines.
  • Good communication: the project coordinator can be considered as a bridge connecting the project manager to various other project team members. Therefore, they must have above-average communication skills.
  • Productivity: The project requires productivity from the team working on it and this is particularly important in the case of the project coordinator. Coordinators are like the oil that makes the wheel of the project spin perfectly.
  • Self-sufficiency: The last thing a project manager needs is a project coordinator who does not follow the task assigned to them. The project coordinator must be highly self-sufficient and capable of self-organization.

the project coordinator

Education, training and certification of a project coordinator

A formal degree in project management is generally not required.

However, most employers do seek several years of experience in their specific field and, preferably, a degree or certification in that field as well as some experience in project work.

For example, a degree in communication, management and business management, economics or other similar fields may provide the required skills.

Employers are also looking for skills in IT, Microsoft Office and, preferably, project management software.

For those who would like to expand further, training courses are organized every year for future project coordinators.

Project coordinator responsibilities

Some project coordinator responsibilities include:

 

  • Ensure that teams have the necessary tools to run the project.
  • Create a project program, with milestones, expiry dates and estimates of required materials and resources, e.g. team members, which will be submitted to management for approval.
  • Help with the documentation of each stage of the project, as well as drafting brief reports.
  • Working “on field” with team members.
  • Keep the morale of team members high and build relationships with them to develop a solid unit.

 

In conclusion, a project coordinator must not only be familiar with a hectic environment, but must also embrace it.

There are many different tasks and qualities expected from a successful project coordinator.

As stated above, coordinators perform very important tasks throughout the life cycle of a project.

We are confident that in the future, the role of the project coordinator will further develop into a highly integrated management role with the project team and will eventually become responsible for more – and increasingly important – tasks during the project lifecycle.

We have the tools, we have the culture.

comparison of leadership models

Comparison of leadership models

Before we begin the discussion on the various leadership models, it is essential that leadership, as a concept in itself, is explained and defined.

There is a difference between leader development and leadership development. Leadership development takes place at the individual level and focuses on developing an individual’s ability to learn from experience to integrate it into the practice of leading an organization.

Unlike leader development, leadership development takes place at the organizational level and covers the entire organization by creating significant connections with stakeholders and other external resources.

The effects of leadership create an economic and competitive advantage for an organization.

In short, leadership development is a continuous, holistic process that occurs throughout the entire organization, while leadership development focuses on improving and developing the capabilities of the leader alone.

Let’s see some leadership models and compare them.

Leadership models: genuine leadership

A genuine leader is someone who is aware of their values and who acts and leads accordingly.

The genuine leadership model includes four factors:

  • Self-consciousness,
  • Relational transparency,
  • Balanced processing,
  • Morality

A genuine leader is someone with high self-awareness who understands their strengths and weaknesses and is aware of their impact on others.

Self-awareness means that the leader acquires self-awareness through interaction with others.

Relational transparency means that the leader is willing to communicate openly about their followers’ feelings and thoughts.

Balanced processing refers to the approach of using objective data to make final decisions.

Finally, morality allows the leader to self-regulate their behaviour by withstanding social and group pressures.

Leadership models: Situational leadership

Although this leadership model is popular and widely used in organizations, it has not actually been thoroughly explored.

Unlike genuine leadership, situational leadership emphasizes adaptation to the level of employee readiness to perform certain tasks, which depends on the willingness and competence of team members.

Therefore, as each employee differs in their availability and skills, the leader should adapt their leadership style accordingly.

The situational leadership model is structured in three situational factors:

  • The level of direction of the task by the leader,
  • The relationship between the leader and the employee,
  • The expertise and trust of the employee.

Leadership models: Servant leadership

This is a leadership model in which the leader should overcome their ego by addressing the needs of their employees.

As stated by the “servant leadership” concept, the needs of employees become more important than the needs of the leader and therefore the leader “serves” employees to help them achieve success and meet their personal and professional needs.

The servant leader can reach the point of self-sacrificing behavior for the sake of employee happiness and well-being.

Leadership models: holistic leadership

An emerging model of leadership is the holistic approach that takes multiple aspects into account.

According to Schein, the dynamic and changing lifecycle of organizations requires four leadership roles that will help the leader manage the complexity and dynamics of organizations.

These four elements are:

  • The role of animator, where the leader should convey energy and enthusiasm to his employees.
  • The capacity of the leader to build the organizational culture by hiring employees with similar ways of thinking and exhibiting behaviors in line with the values and cultural characteristics of the company.
  • The third role of the leader is to support culture, which means that the success of culture is preserved if change and growth are promoted. Therefore, leaders may need to adapt their leadership to the evolving identity of the organization..
  • The fourth role is the leader as a agent of change. Psychologically, leaders must possess the emotional stability to create a safe environment for employees during the change process in order to reduce anxiety and resistance to change.

In this model, leadership is not about being the individual at the top of the hierarchy and in control of subordinates, rather it is about promoting humanistic values and methods of practice.

The holistic view of leadership enables organizations to be better prepared to solve problems by considering the interconnection of external networks, the different opinions expressed and embracing complexity as a whole.

In short, the role of the holistic leader is not limited to guiding the organization internally, but also extends to various roles that facilitate complex problem solving and effective implementation and adaptation to change.

leadership models

Leadership models: charismatic leadership

A highly charismatic leader has a strong need to influence others, possesses a strong and firm belief in himself and his values, has the ability to inspire a high need for success in his employees, and has the capability to show competence through the articulation of potential rather than actual achievements.

The skill of the charismatic leader lies in imagining and inspiring employees and facilitating commitment by giving the impression that they – and the mission they follow – are extraordinary.

However, charisma as the only trait of leadership may not be enough to face a given situation adequately.

As a result, the charismatic trait of leadership can be treated as part of a leader, but not the only one.

Combination of multiple leadership models for greater success

Ultimately, best leadership practice derives from the synthesis of several positive aspects of different leadership models in order to maximize the effectiveness of each of them.

The best leadership effects can be achieved if the leader is open to different nuances and strengths of different leadership models instead of being limited to just one.

Furthermore, leadership practice should be collaborative and collective, facilitating mutual and 2-way communication because the leader can also learn from their team members or peers.

There are several situational and environmental factors of which the leader may not be aware but which others who collaborate with him or her are able to observe and share.

In these circumstances, it is very important that the leader is willing to listen to their employees and learn from their opinions to see reality with different perspectives.

All leaders need best tools.

the talent management

Talent Management for a Project Manager

Knowing how to manage a talent, as long as you have it at your command, is not just a generic management of human resources.

Even when the project plan is drafted and sound, provided the project manager has the tools, technology, and time to complete the project, the key question remains: Does the project manager have the right talent and the right place to work on the project efficiently?

Effective project talent management begins even before the planning phases of a project, through selective recruitment, continuous training and career development.

Talent management should be conceived and regarded as a business strategy that will help the project manager retain exceptional employees.

For effective talent management, every aspect of recruiting, hiring and developing employees is addressed.

The ultimate goal must be to achieve a superior quality workforce.

What talent management implies

Talent management, if managed strategically, is driven by the mission, vision, values and objectives of the organization.

This allows each employee to see where their role fits into the organization and thus enables them to be involved in the overall management of the company.

From a strategic point of view, an effective talent management system helps employees to feel part of something bigger than their “simple” day-to-day business.

This management includes the following work processes:

  • Develop precise job descriptions so that you know the skills, abilities and experience needed for each role.
  • Use an appropriate selection process to select employees who have superior potential and fit the culture of the organization.
  • Negotiate requirements and performance standards based on rationally acceptable results.
  • Provide effective employee onboarding and ongoing training and development opportunities that meet both the employee’s needs and those of the organization.
  • Provide ongoing coaching, mentoring and feedback, so that the employee feels appreciated and important.
  • Hold regular meetings concerning service development planning focused on the interests of employees.
  • Develop effective compensation and recognition systems that reward people for their contributions.
  • Conduct exit interviews to understand why a talent has decided to quit the organization.

The three phases of talent management

Talent management approaches vary, however, there are three critical phases common to all organizations.

talent management

1. Talent identification and acquisition

It is increasingly difficult for organizations to find talent with the right combination of technique, leadership and strategic and business management skills.

However, without that particular talent, organizations risk not being able to ensure the proper implementation and completion of projects that are critical to achieving their objectives.

Once the skills needed for the role sought have been identified, talent can be found in two ways:

  • External recruitment
  • Internal recruitment

The potential to attract external talent and generate interest among internal candidates is often based on factors over which HR managers have little or no influence.

Being perceived as a first choice employer and the ability to offer a variety of interesting projects make an organization attractive to talents.

2. Talent development and preservation

Once the right talent is found, ensure that the skills are relevant to the company’s needs and that the employee remains interested in the organization are ongoing challenges.

Key areas to focus on to develop and retain talent include:

  • Support the effective mobility of resources from current assignments to the following opportunities.
  • Interlink career advancement processes.
  • Create extensive plans for progress beyond the boundaries of the organization.

Most organizations should pay attention to training and talent development.

It is therefore important that organizations, with the help of the project manager, set up a defined career and training path that allows them to develop the skills and competences of talents in their different areas of expertise.

3. Integration and transfer of talent knowledge

Project managers, human resources and business leaders will also benefit from the acquisition and sharing of knowledge.

Having a structured process to embed and transfer knowledge within an organization has a high positive impact on the success rate of projects and initiatives.

Organizational success is strongly correlated with both high maturity in talent management and the high level of matching between human resources, project managers and business leaders.

Research also supports the use of talent management strategies: in a study by the American Society for Training and Development in collaboration with The Institute for Corporate Productivity, the following practices have been identified as having a positive impact on talent management:

  • Standardize review and feedback processes.
  • Assign a sole functional owner – who can be the project manager – with regard to talent management.
  • Develop an organizational culture that supports talent management.
  • Ensure consistency between talent management activities.
  • Increase the visibility of talent management initiatives.

Bottom line, the project manager’s approaches to talent management may differ from organization to organization.

Through a more collaborative relationship between project managers, human resources and business leaders, it will be possible to gain more knowledge and information about project management and its critical connection to organizational goals, enabling more efficient and effective recruitment, retention and talent development.

As an organization is more experienced in talent management, the better it performs in executing projects that meet corporate objectives, drive strategic initiatives and improve financial performance.

Whatever the industry in which the organization operates, strategic change is driven through projects and programs.

Organizations that have the right talent and the right method of talent management undoubtedly have a critical capability that gives them an advantage over their competitors in the long run.

Finally, more and more organizations are considering talent management as an opportunity to distinguish themselves in the marketplace to gain a competitive advantage.

We have the tools, we have the culture.

negotiation skills in a project

The importance of negotiations in projects

Negotiating skills for a project manager are crucial and improving them will set the foundation for a successful project.

Project managers hold different roles at the same time: leaders, intermediaries, delegators and even negotiators.

This is why negotiation skills for project managers are on the list of soft skills they should develop.

What is the negotiation in a project

Negotiation is a process consisting of the activities necessary to resolve different types of disputes through consultations between the parties involved in order to reach a consensus.

Negotiations can take place at any time in the project lifecycle and may be formal or non-formal.

Formal negotiation implies an agreement through contracts and formal documents, while informal negotiations include debates to resolve a conflict between team members, for instance.

In project management, the negotiation process is divided into phases and include:

  • Planning: the preparation of all relevant information necessary for the discussion.
  • Debate: here the key issues are examined and discussed.
  • Proposal: the creation of the proposal as a way of solving the problem presented.
  • Revision: this can include negotiating compromises before an agreement is formalized and before the information is shared throughout the organization.

Why negotiation is important for project managers

Here are some situations where negotiating skills play a key role in the success of a project. Cases in which the project manager:

Ultimately, negotiating skills enable project managers to achieve stronger relationships with stakeholders, better relationships with clients and, in general, a more positive working environment.

Negotiating can also be a useful strategy for dealing with conflicts on a project.

While it is almost impossible to avoid conflict entirely, being able to negotiate the way around it is a useful skill.

In the most serious situations, conflict can also halt a project.
negotiation in a project

Improving project manager’s negotiating skills

Here are 5 tips that can help improve project manager’s negotiating skills.

1. Improving negotiating skills: Practice

The very first thing to do, as happens in all things, is to practice a lot.

Probably everyone negotiates more than they think – both in their professional life and in their private life.

It is therefore important to be aware of these negotiating situations, to analyse how you approach and deal with the moment, how you feel and what could be improved for the next time.

2. Improving negotiating skills: Preparation

It is important to spend some effort on preparation for negotiation.

If a project manager knows they are meeting a supplier, for example, they should think in advance about what they want to achieve from this agreement and explore potential alternatives.

This way you will engage in the discussion more confidently and know in advance what you want to achieve.

However, it is important to remember to remain receptive to other people’ points of view as well.

It is not a negotiation if you refuse to change your standpoint and force the other person to accept your ideas.

3. Improving negotiating skills: Manage your emotions

Conflict situations and negotiations often expose the worst in people.

It is therefore important for the project manager to be prepared for how they will react in a potentially difficult and perhaps embarrassing conversation.

4. Improving negotiating skills: Take your time

Negotiations can take a long time and be running on a continuous basis; it is unlikely that in a single meeting, everything will be discussed and resolved.

For large projects, multiple meetings could be held to ensure that everything is documented effectively and to the satisfaction of both parties.

And even when the agreement is concluded, the project manager may find himself negotiating more precise details or new terms to move the project in the right direction.

5. Improving negotiating skills: Listen

When preparing for a negotiation, you need to try your best to think about what you want to say, how to say it, how to reply to what you think the other person will say.

Simply put, a project manager must also be ready to listen.

Listening will help you identify the other party’s weaknesses and help you really understand what others want.

When you listen actively, you are more likely to formulate answers that the other person finds acceptable.

The importance of negotiating: conclusions

Ultimately, negotiation is an excellent project management tool and is critical to getting the best out of any situation.

Negotiation goes beyond reducing or increasing the price of an offer and is a necessary tool in the daily activities of the project manager.

Like all soft skills, knowing how to hold engaging conversations that translate into good results for both parties is something that can always be improved over time.

With the right knowledge, structures and techniques, any project manager will be able to approach negotiations knowing how best to target the project and the organization in general.

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lead a team successfully

Leading a team successfully

Leading a team successfully, being an efficient manager and a charismatic leader at the same time may seem an impossible task, however, it doesn’t necessarily have to be so.

To do so, one must be a steady landmark for team members, a beacon to be followed at all times with confidence and admiration.

How can this be done? Let’s see it in this article on how to lead a team successfully, in which we have summarized the 9 basic rules that can help us in the mission.

9 basic rules to lead a team successfully

As we have already said, being a Project Manager who successfully leads a team is not an easy goal to achieve, yet at the same time it is not pure utopia.

Let’s try together to consider the following 9 rules that can smooth the way to our desired success.

Rule #1 to successfully lead a team: Find a management strategy and stick to it

There is nothing worse than a project manager who keeps changing his opinions and methods according to his mood.

Chaotic decision-making increases a team’s uncertainty and frustration, so it’s better to find a strategy and stick to it.

If you find some new methods that the manager wants to apply, they should make sure that they do not conflict with the overall direction of the project. Also, why not ask for Feedback from the Team before applying them?

Rule #2 for successfully leading a team: Set goals and track progress

This may seem obvious, yet too often a project gets stuck between client requests and monthly reports, and the overall goal and vision just seems to fade away.

Setting and achieving goals will provide a clear view of the team’s overall efficiency and daily progress.

Over time, you will be able to see weaknesses and improve results.

Rule #3 for successfully leading a team: Promote training

The key to a fast-growing organization is to empower the personal and professional development of its employees.

The idea is that as the organization grows, so do people develop in their positions, which means they have to learn constantly.

So a good manager offers training courses for employees or encourages peer-to-peer learning by asking more specialized team members to teach their particular experience or skills to colleagues.

Rule #4 for successfully leading a team:  Invest in a pleasant working environment

Research shows that a well-designed office environment can increase overall team performance by up to 20%.

Even small internal changes that do not require large investments can improve employees’ performance.

Here are some ideas for a more productive and pleasant working environment:

  • Modern furniture, such as ergonomic chairs and desks.
  • In-house library: recreational reading, even for just 30 minutes a day, has proven sufficient to increase productivity in the office, improve concentration and address problems such as depression and anxiety.
  • Music at the office: rhythmic background music will help workers feel more energetic and enthusiastic as they perform their daily activities.
  • Entertainments or break room: having the opportunity to relax and have fun at work creates a strong commitment, helps employees to relax and clear their minds and increases productivity.
  • Living plants: they make the atmosphere more welcoming and it has also been observed that they guarantee better air quality, increasing workers’ productivity by 15%.

lead a team

Rule #5 for successfully leading a team: Be kind and honest with the team

Most of the time, when people quit their jobs, they do so mainly because of their manager.

Being friendly and honest might not be enough to be a successful project manager, but it is a key part.

Here are some ways to appreciate and care for the team:

  • Celebrate progress and achievements of team members.
  • Talk regularly with the team and listen to what everyone has to say and, if necessary, implement new ideas.
  • Don’t throw stress and anger at the team.
  • Try not to overload the team.
  • Don’t be selfish, i.e. the manager should focus on what’s good for the whole team, not just for himself.

Rule #6 for successfully leading a team:  Offer flexible working hours

The traditional working hours, Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., are becoming less and less common.

Offering flexible hours or remote working is an effective way to inspire existing staff and give them more motivation. What matters is the final result.

Rule #7 for successfully leading a team:  Use only constructive criticism

Constructive criticism means offering rational and sound opinions about other people’s work, including both positive comments and remarks about what should be improved.

Constructive criticism is usually expressed in a friendly manner.

When evaluating the work of the team, it is important to always give useful, specific and genuine feedback.

There is no need to be shy and merely praise, although a manager should also be direct and even harsh when necessary.

Rule #8 for successfully leading a team:  Don’t give yourself special treatment

The actions of the leader are followed, directly or indirectly, by the team.

This means that employees watch, observe and often emulate the manager’s attitude towards the work and the organization, especially if his actions do not show commitment.

In fact, no one wants to work for a leader who does not inspire motivation or looks like a slacker.

What a manager must do is therefore set an example: if, for example, they expect employees to arrive at work on time, it is important that they do the same.

Rule #9 for successfully leading a team:  Nurturing the corporate culture

Corporate culture is the personality of an organization that defines the working environment and relationships between team members and co-workers.

Corporate culture also includes corporate mission, values, ethics and objectives.

Whatever personality the organization has, it is imperative that the manager makes sure to embrace it, nurture it and pass it on to employees.

Here are a few things that might help in this regard:

  • Team building events.
  • Relevant books in the office library.
  • Proper initial training and coaching for new employees so that everyone is on the same page.

 

True leaders are hard to find, at any level of the organization… yet it’s not impossible to meet them.

Leaders show a unique blend of charisma, vision, and character traits that attract people to follow them.

That’s why for a leader who applies all 9 of the factors listed in this article, it becomes automatic to successfully manage a team.

Manage your projects at your best!

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the project resources

How to estimate the resources of a project

Knowing how to estimate the resources required to carry out a project is never the simplest of tasks.

Resources are people, equipment, places, money or anything else a project needs to be executed.

As a result, resources must be allocated for each activity on the to-do list.

Before you can assign resources to the project, however, you need to know their availability.

Some resources need to be scheduled in advance and may only be available at certain times or times – for example, a meeting room or a rented office.

It is therefore essential to know this before you can finish programming a project.

Resource estimation

The objective of the resource estimate is to allocate the necessary resources to each activity on the list.

There are five tools and techniques for estimating activity resources:

  • The judgement of experts: this means involving experts who have already performed this type of work before and obtaining opinions on what resources are needed.
  • Alternative analysis: this means considering different options on how to allocate resources. This includes changing the number of resources and the type of resources used. Many times, there is more than one way to perform a task, and alternative analysis helps you decide between different possibilities.
  • Published estimation data: something that project managers in many industries use to understand how many resources they need for a specific project. These are based on articles, research and studies that collect, analyze and publish data from other people and organizations’ projects.
  • Project management software: these often feature functions designed to help project managers estimate resource needs and constraints and find the best combination for the project in question.
  • The bottom-up estimate: this means splitting complex tasks into simpler tasks and processing the resources needed for each small step. The need or cost of the resources of the individual tasks is then added together to obtain a total estimate. The smaller and more detailed the task, the greater the accuracy of this technique.

In another article we already talked about project estimation techniques.

 Estimation of activities’ duration

Once you have finished estimating resources per activity, you have everything you need to understand how long it will take to complete each activity.

Estimating the duration of a task means starting with information about that specific task and then working with the project team to develop a time estimate.

Most of the time you will start with a rough estimate and then refine it.

When you talk about estimating project time, you may have already heard of effort. If you’re interested in learning more about it, you can check this article about effort and duration.

Here are the five tools and techniques to create more accurate durability estimates:

  • The evaluation of the experts that will come from the members of the project team who are familiar with the work that needs to be done.
  • The equivalent estimate, i.e. when looking at similar activities from previous projects and how much time they took.
  • Parametric Estimation, i.e. linking the project data into a formula that provides an estimation.
  • The three-point estimate, i.e. when three numbers come up: a realistic estimate that is more likely to occur, an optimistic estimate that represents the best scenario and a pessimistic estimate that represents the worst scenario. The final estimate is the weighted average of the three.
  • The Back-up Analysis, i.e. adding extra time to the program (called emergency reserve or buffer) to take account of additional risk.

Activity duration estimates are a quantitative measure usually expressed in hours, weeks, days or months.

Another thing to keep in mind when estimating activity duration is to determine the effort required.

Duration is the amount of time an activity takes, while effort is the total number of people-hours required.

If, for example, two people work a total of 6 hours (3 hours one and 3 hours the other) to complete an activity, the duration is six hours. However, if these two people worked the whole time (simultaneously, for 6 hours), the duration would be 12 hours.

Project planning and critical roadmap

The project program must be approved and signed by the stakeholders and functional managers.

This ensures that everyone is familiar with the program, including dates and resource commitments.

In addition, (written) confirmation will be required that resources will be available as indicated in the planning.

Once approved, the program will become the baseline for the rest of the project.

The progress of the project and the completion of activities will be monitored compared to project planning to determine if the project is running as planned.

A delay in any of the activities in the critical roadmap will delay the entire project.

project resources

Resource equalization

Resource equalization is used to examine and resolve the unequal use of resources, usually related to people or equipment, over time.

During the execution of project planning, the project manager will attempt to plan certain activities simultaneously.

As the project progresses, however, there are situations where more resources – such as equipment or people – may be needed than are available and planned.

The project manager will attempt to schedule certain tasks at the same time as the project is progressing.

When using project software, resource equalization can take place automatically, allowing the software to calculate delays and automatically update tasks.

The project manager offers several tools for the development of good quantitative information, based on numbers and measurements, such as project schedules, financial and budget reports, risk analysis and objective monitoring.

This quantitative information is essential to understand the current status and trends of a project.

Likewise important is the development of qualitative information, such as judgement made by team members.

In conclusion, regardless of project size or budget, estimating activities can be a challenging task.

To create a feasible budget, the project manager needs to know their team, results, activities, and processes in detail.

In addition, he or she should feel comfortable asking the correct questions to stakeholders.

Twproject can help you scheduling your resources, learn how!

research pm

Research project manager

Research project managers are in charge of conducting research and development projects that lead to the achievement of a business and/or scientific objective.

To achieve this goal, research project managers determine and manage the methodology and techniques for the development of the research itself.

Research project managers, in their field, are responsible for reviewing the work, validating the data collected, creating reports and communicating with the different constituencies and project teams.

Research project management

Specialized research project managers possess advanced program and project management skills, strong analytical skills and knowledge of discovery and development processes.

They are capable of coordinating and easing the life cycle of research project management, including the initiation, development, and implementation of various complex experimental projects.

Research PMs coordinate study teams and manage the timing of research projects to ensure that studies are completed within the specified time frame.

Research project managers also regularly meet with stakeholders, including their research team, clients and study groups, to assemble and communicate business and research requirements and set expectations for the work.

Qualifications and skills of a research project manager

A Bachelor’s degree is generally required to qualify for a research project manager position.

Many employers, however, at the time of selection prefer candidates with advanced academic qualifications, such as a specific master’s degree.

In addition, five to seven years of direct research experience is usually required, as well as proven expertise in project management, including budgeting, planning, execution, delivery, quality control (Deming cycle) and reporting.

Qualified candidates are proactive resolvers with planning skills, outstanding management and leadership.

They can communicate with relevant parties from different functional areas and can convey complex data in tangible business terms.

Here are the 11 best skills that every research project manager should have.

the research pm

The 11 best skills that every research project manager should have

There are definitely many more skills required, but if you have these 11, you will have the basis on which to build a successful career in managing research and development projects.

1. Leadership

A research project manager is in charge not only of following the project through to successful completion, but is responsible for leading a team to achieve this goal. This requires motivating and mediating when necessary.

2. Communication

Communication skills complement leadership. You cannot be an effective leader if you are unable to communicate with the team.

3. Planning

The only way to achieve the objectives of the project within the time period that has been decided is to divide this objective into activities on a time line. That is what planning is all about, and it is at the very heart of what a project manager does: setting up a realistic schedule and then managing resources to keep track of the route so that the project can be completed successfully and on time.

4. Risk management

Everything carries its potential risks and the planning of a project, whether simple or complex, is also related to a dose of risk. It is part of a project manager’s job to see these risks before they become real problems. Therefore, before you execute the project, you must try to identify, assess, and control the risk.

5. Cost management

You can’t do anything without money. One of the first tasks assigned to the research project manager is therefore to make sure that the budget is realistic and able to meet the financial needs of the project and, secondly, to monitor these costs during the project life cycle.

6. Negotiation

Negotiation does not simply mean contracting the best price from a supplier; managing a project means being in constant negotiations. A project manager must negotiate with stakeholders, team members or other people involved in the project.

7. Critical thinking

Many of us do not think, but rather react and follow a series of automatic responses, learned throughout life. In general it does not necessarily mean that this is bad, but in certain situations it is better to know how to disable this mechanism and activate critical thinking. Critical thinking is simply being as objective as possible in analyzing and evaluating a problem or situation, so that we can form an impartial judgment.

8. Activity management

If planning is the foundation of project management, activities are what compose it. There will be many activities to create, assign and manage, which means that poor management of this process can severely affect the success of the project.

9. Quality management

Quality management is often neglected by project managers and requires the greatest attention. Quality management must oversee the activities necessary to create a product or service worthy of the level required by the client. Adhering to the time frame is important, but a project is useless if it produces something that is sub-standard.

10. Patience

Nothing gets sorted out when you’re in a hurry or when frustration takes over in case of unforeseen circumstances. Projects take time, from research to planning, and must be carefully designed to run smoothly. That doesn’t mean there won’t be problems: whether it’s a change request or a team member acting negatively, if you don’t have patience to handle things, the result will be worse.

11. Ready for innovation

Technology evolves constantly; as soon as you get used to one tool, another takes its place. In order to keep up with the times, you need to constantly learn and train, so that you can follow the path of a successful project manager. Especially in the field of research and development, there is nothing more truthful than that.

 

So here are the responsibilities and skills required in the case of a research project manager.

These do not differ much from what is required for a “traditional” project manager, but obviously the scope will be more specific.

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Functional managers in a project: how to involve them and why

Functional Managers do not always get taken into account in the realization of a project. These managers are generally seen as an additional cost rather than an investment. However, this is not the case!

In many organizations, teams are made up of so many members from so many different departments that it is often impossible for a single project manager to take care and “know” everything.

Actually, however, many companies are pleased to have just one project manager who coordinates the entire team and initiates a series of projects destined, for this reason, to fail right from the start.

It is evident that the number of roles required to achieve specific objectives depends on the size of the organization and the size of the project, but you should stop expecting the project manager to be the only person who can handle the management of large project teams.

The project manager, no matter how good and experienced they are, there are situations in which they cannot manage everything on their own. This is where functional managers come into play.

Even if the initial cost due to the introduction of functional managers will be higher (you will have to pay one or more people at managerial level), the company’s managers must consider the management benefits that will result from this investment.

Anyway, what is a functional manager?

functional manager is an individual who holds the management authority of an organizational unit, such as a department, within a company, company, or organization, and whose role serves to successfully complete processes.

The functional manager can be, for example, the head of Marketing or Logistics, Technical Department, or Administration.

The critical role of the functional manager is:

  • To review and approve the project plan for the specific area it addresses.
  • To offer people the opportunity to be members of the project team.
  • To provide guidance, as and when requested, to the team members of the department concerned.
  • To revise the project schedule if necessary.
  • To remove obstacles for the project team.
  • To provide team members with the time required to complete the project successfully, as defined in the approved project plan.
  • To ensure that the people in the department working on the project have an adequate level of skills and know-how to perform the work.

The role of the functional manager is, therefore, essential to execute complex projects flawlessly.

The substantial contribution of functional managers is also to try to show their team members how to solve problems by providing the appropriate methods and tools.

functional manager

What are the responsibilities of a functional manager?

  • Communicate any changes in the availability of their resources to the project/program manager.
  • Keep track of the status of the project/program and understand the impacts on their resources and areas of responsibility.
  • Help the project/program manager to deliver leadership and get the buy-in.
  • Evaluate the overall effectiveness and quality of the results.
  • Ensure the improved performance of their function and effective cross-functional integration.
  • Be involved in the project/program decision-making process relevant to the impact on the tasks for which it is responsible.
  • Communicate with the project/program manager any changes to the project that affect the quality or scope of the end result.
  • Ensure that the specific requirements of your sector for the output to be produced are communicated and understood.
  • Take part in the risk analysis of the project and problem management, whenever required.
  • Ensure that the time of their resources is not excessively unbalanced between the work needed for the project and any other “routine” activities.
  • Decide which resources to allocate to the project, ensuring that the funds allotted possess the suitable skills required for the project or have the ability to acquire such skills.
  • Understand the work required of its resources for the project and any new skills they may learn as a result of the project work.
  • Ensuring that funds are available for the project as initially promised and agreed upon.
  • Manage any resource performance issues that the project/program manager may encounter and report.

Integration between functional manager and project manager

In an organization, often initial resistance to the idea of having more than one manager (especially for budget reasons) arises.

However, the advantages of having functional managers who can actually spend time with the team pay off.

Good integration between functional manager and project manager can only produce benefits from all perspectives, both for the project and for the organization in general.

What is essential is that the team has clear in mind, which are the roles of one and the other and that the communication is transparent and unambiguous.

In fact, the functional manager is able to recognize whether a specific activity related to his department and experience, can provide (or not) added value to the project. This is why the functional manager has the ability to help the project manager recognize when the project team is wasting time and resources.

In general, therefore, the presence of functional managers and project managers will not only improve the performance of the project team but also enhance the morale and commitment of each individual team member.

The project manager will recognize the specific skills of the functional manager, while the functional manager will acknowledge the skills and coordination skills of the project manager.

The right tool for managers

Problems with the team – identifying and neutralizing a toxic (negative/damaging) member

Problems with the Team can be a daily occurrence for a Project Manager. Finding and retaining valuable employees is critical, but identifying and dealing with so-called “toxic” employees is vital to the team’s compactness.

We all know that there are characters you can’t stand. We met at school, at university, or work.

If hired, employees are expected to bring value to an organization, but what toxic employees (i.e., employees with personalities that are not tolerated by the remaining team members) bring is just annoyance and problems that quickly affect the success of the project and the organization.

Human resources and top managers should be able to detect toxic behavior and take immediate action to prevent chaos. If not neutralized in time, these elements could even lead to the destruction of the corporate culture.

The different kinds of toxic members

Here are some signs of a toxic employee within the team and some suggestions on how to handle the situation.

Toxic members: The gossiper

It is undoubtedly a good sign if employees develop friendly relationships and get along well with each other.

An open communication culture should be encouraged; however, office gossip can lead to a significant reduction in productivity if it exceeds the limit.

Gossips are everywhere: chatting by the coffee machine, walking around during lunchtime, always trying to find exciting office “stories.”

This type of employee becomes toxic when they become hyper-focused on collecting funny stories and gossip rather than working.

In addition, excessive gossip and unfounded rumors can create drama among employees.

To avoid this, you need to make sure that employees have enough time to interact with each other during lunch or social events after work.

This way, they should remain more focused on work during regular office hours.

If however, this behavior persists, you will have to talk to those directly concerned and, in the most severe cases, act accordingly.

Toxic members: The one who always says yes

This is a rather tricky case to identify. As such, an employee does not seem to cause many problems, on the contrary.

However, you might notice that an individual team member always agrees at the end of every discussion and meeting, without ever bringing anything new.

If an employee behaves like this and never asks questions, this may be an indicator that they are not willing to learn.

These people make the least effort to do precisely what is expected of them and nothing more. They will wait for detailed instructions without any initiative.

In these cases, you need to talk to them to find out the reasons for their lack of motivation.

Toxic members: The procrastinator

In a world where employees use the internet daily for their work or even have to stay in touch with customers and suppliers on social media, from time to time, there may be distracted a bit.

However, when these distractions stop being quick and innocent, problems arise.

If the employee begins to miss deadlines or perform poor quality work, action must be taken.

Stricter deadlines and more demanding tasks can be the solution and, not to forget, positive words if a project is successfully completed.

Getting recognition on a regular basis ensures that employees are more committed to their work and perform better.

Toxic members: The apology maker

This kind of employee is similar to the procrastinator, as they both try to stay away from work, but the apology maker is definitely more creative as he always seeks justification for his delay.

Other “symptoms” include high absenteeism, low energy, and lack of motivation.

You can identify these employees with unscheduled visits, requesting regular reports, and making them personally responsible for specific tasks.
the toxic member

Toxic members: The narcissist

A narcissistic employee is usually an excellent interpreter but does not seem to recognize the value of a strong team.

This person prefers to work independently and may even go so far as to underestimate the work of colleagues.

The organization, however, needs the collaboration of the team to achieve challenging goals.

For this, you need to promote your team’s successes and support group projects, recognize the team’s efforts to demonstrate that each member’s input is essential.

Toxic members: The grumpy

It is quite ordinary to have a colleague grumbling on Monday morning, but when this becomes a habit, it is probably a toxic person.

These are the employees who are always complaining about everything – whether there is a real reason or not: from a broken coffee machine to a low-speed Internet connection; these people don’t seem to be satisfied with anything and, as a result, create negativity in the team.

In such cases, it is a good idea to compare people and ask what is causing their dissatisfaction. Is there anything that can be done to improve the work area, which would actually be beneficial for everyone?

Listening to reasonable complaints can lead to progress, but complaining just for the sake of it is something that cannot be accepted for too long.

Toxic members: The “I-know-it-all”

In our lives, we have all come across a person who believes they know everything, both personally and professionally.

These people usually have an answer for everything and will not accept or listen to another point of view.

Employees who show this kind of behavior are toxic because they don’t want to receive feedback.

So how will they perform better if they refuse to incorporate constructive criticism into their work?

In this case, training sessions for this type of employee can be envisaged in order to broaden their knowledge.

 

Ultimately, having a toxic employee on the team is more expensive in the long term than having a not fully trained employee.

Toxic behavior affects the whole team and prevents them from working efficiently.

Yet firing toxic employees is not always the best approach; in most cases, it is possible to eliminate toxic behavior and retain the worker.

People are not always aware of their behavior.

In general, once a toxic employee has been identified, the first solution is always to have a personal discussion with them and try to understand the reasons for this negative behavior and act accordingly.

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