The life of a team or departmental manager is filled with lots of challenges to juggle, no matter what industry you may work. There are some common issues that managers will face again and again, and there are steps you can take to ensure you juggle these challenges efficiently and effectively. Below, we will take a look at some of the greatest challenges project managers face and give our insight on how you can tackle them with ease.
Managing Your Higher Ups
Managers do not always manage down. Management is about all your relationships in the workplace, including those above you. One of the greatest challenges for managers is keeping the daylight between themselves and the executives to a minimum. After all, you need to convince the executives of your vision and the route you have outlined to achieve it. Effective executive management is vital, and how you approach this will depend on how deeply the executives get involved. One way to ensure your executives know what you are doing but don't micromanage you, is to set weekly meetings or give summary emails weekly so they feel involved, can ask questions, but don't feel the need to be in your business every day. And show them you know when to ask questions. If big picture issues are presented to you, make sure you get their insight so they know you know when is the right time to ask questions and they can trust your judgment in the small things too!
Managing Individual challenges
You also have to deal with a number of individual and personal challenges. For example, perhaps one of your team members has personal problems at home and they are impacting his or her performance? For example, law firm managers may find themselves facing tough situations with young lawyers who don't pass the bar the first time. How could you encourage them to keep working and study more? Outline a long term vision for them and point them to resources that will help them pass the bar the next time. Or healthcare managers could find themselves in a predicament if they’re faced with nurses who receive a DUI. How should this impact their career? Give warnings with the appropriate HR oversight and if appropriate set a corrective action plan. People who you help overcome a challenge, whatever it may be, are likely to be loyal to you long term.
Overcoming team biases
It is not uncommon from team biases to occur. For example, the marketing department, the sales department, and other stakeholders can be biased in favor of their objectives; however, these objectives may not align with the direction of the product. Thus, while the primary focus always needs to be on the customers’ needs, not everyone in the organization has a role that is consumer-facing, and this can make it difficult. To overcome this, you need to act as the definitive link that brings all of the views from disparate teams together. It is your job to ensure that everyone sees the grander picture and that they are always working with the customer in mind. Always start group meetings with a goal, that way when biases become evident you can point back to the main goal to align incentives of disparate teams.
Ensuring everyone is focused
Making sure that everyone is focused on the project and the objectives can be challenging, especially if the project is a lengthy one. It is easy for project managers and project members to focus on day-to-day demands as opposed to the truly important objectives. Instead of concentrating on strategy, we end up derailed by meetings and bogged down with emails. So, how can you overcome this issue? One of the best approaches is to take our large strategic goals and break them down into more manageable objectives. This will help everyone to stay focused on reaching his or her aims.
Last but not least, one of the greatest challenges that all project managers face is managing expectations. To better manage expectations of your team members, try road mapping. This is a process whereby you will communicate the current status of the project, where the project is going, and when the project will arrive at the set of objectives stated in the beginning. The trouble with projects is that there are often curveballs thrown in to try us, which can mean that deadlines are not met. To accommodate this, it is a good idea to use time brackets that are not rigid when road mapping, and make sure the road map is available for stakeholders and colleagues to access. This transparency will benefit everyone.
What have you found to be effective ways to manager your teams? Tell us in the comments below!
M.E.L. is an attorney and small business entrepreneur whose mission is to help professionals conquer the workaday world with style and poise.
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