2015-09-16_5-tips-for-the-accidental-project-managerIt happens to a lot of people. They are good at their jobs and a manager comes along and appoints them to manage a new project. Just like that they have become an unintentional project manager and like so many, they feel ill-equipped to deal with this new role.

If you’ve found yourself in this position or if you’ve been an unintentional project manager for a while and still feel out of your depth, DON’T PANIC. We’ve got some really helpful tips to get you back on track with your future in project management.

1.     Confidence is key – if you don’t feel confident in your skills, improve them

Finding yourself as an unintentional project manager can be disconcerting and feeling a lack of confidence in your own skills, is completely normal. But do not be concerned– like everything, project management is a skill that you can learn and will improve with practice. So what are you waiting for? Get learning!

Self-study is a great way to improve your knowledge and skills in your own time. There are plenty of great resources and books out there – we’ve got a whole section of this blog dedicated to Project Management 101.

Even better than doing it yourself, why not get an expert to teach you. There are a number of project management courses available for every level of current skill. Look for something that will give you practical skills and tools to enable you to do the job.

2.     Ask for help and get your team involved

You don’t need to do this on your own. You have a team around you to help with the project, so get them involved in the planning process. Get their ideas and input and use them to leverage your own. Not only will their input help you to better plan milestones and deadlines, but they will also appreciate being included which can help strengthen the team.

If you can find someone with more experience as a project manager, seek their guidance and advice. Support can go a long way to improving your confidence and ability to complete the project.

3.     Don’t forget your common sense

This seems like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how easy it is to lose sight of common sense amongst all the planning and processes that come with project management. This means keeping sight of the things you know are important from the start and thinking about things from different perspectives.

For example, common sense says that it is your job is to deliver value for the client, so you should figure out what they want and what would satisfy them the most. Don’t forget to go back to basics and don’t be afraid to use your brain!

4.  Be realistic and manage expectations

The goal of your job is to deliver client expectations, but these expectations need to be managed. Be realistic about what your team can deliver and the deadlines you promise. Rather add a little extra time to your deadlines and manage expectations than deliver a project later than planned.

Expectation management can be difficult – we want to promise the world to our clients, but sometimes as a project manager you have to be direct and upfront about what can and can’t be done. Your client will appreciate the honesty.

5.  Delegate!

It’s easy to get caught in a pattern of ‘do-it-yourself’ but one of the most important tasks you need to tackle as a project manager is the delegation of tasks. It doesn’t matter how well you can do them yourself, delegating tasks frees up your time to focus on successfully driving the project. It can be difficult to delegate, especially if you feel your team may not listen, or if you feel more competent at the tasks, but with a bit of practice it will come more easily.

Remember, you have a job to do – and you can’t do it if you’re also doing everyone else’s.

If you are looking to improve your project management skills, CoLAB’s Learning Academy offers a variety of courses in project management for all skill levels. You can find out more at www.colablearning.com or contact us if you would like to know more.