Good project management – key takeaways:
- As the project managers, the speed and accuracy of your decisions have an enormous impact on your team’s productivity.
- There are tools that can help you can increase the speed and accuracy of your decisions.
- You can always ask for help, and this can have other positive effects on your team as well.
Behind every successful project is a good project manager. But, aside from the plethora of tasks that come with the role, the project manager also needs to be the balancing anchor, the reliable leader, and the motivator for everyone in the team.
Between making project plans, asking for budget executions, and managing every step of the execution process, as a project manager you also need to make decisions that serve as a guide for everyone in the team.
If you make a mistake and need to start from the beginning you are killing the productive flow, and if you take too much time to think, the competition will most certainly get ahead of you.
To be a good project manager, you need to be quick and effective in making decisions, because the speed and accuracy of your decisions impact the productivity of the whole team.
Unfortunately, no secret decision-making tool or technique can be used in every situation, but there are methods to improve the decision-making process in general. Based on my experience, I have created a shortlist of 4 ways that will improve your decision-making process and enable you to make better decisions, faster and as a result, increase the productivity for all the people that depend on you.
1. Rely on a decision-making model
Bad decisions can happen once in a while, even if you have evaluated the situation thoroughly. There are times when factors like emotions and conflicting opinions can cloud your judgment and you need to look at the situation with fresh eyes and an objective perspective.
By applying a good decision-making model, you will be able to minimize the negative effects of these situations.
A great example I’ve used in the past is Herbert Simon’s model. He was a Nobel prize-winning economist and cognitive psychologist whose research efforts were primarily focused on decision-making within organizations.
There are many other models and schemes that can help you organize your thoughts and eliminate biases. Try a few of them out and stick to the one that works best for you.
3. Create a list of pros and cons
Sometimes, the best way to make a decision quickly is by using this old technique that still works. You can use a piece of paper (or your phone) to create a list that will reflect your thoughts visually. In this way, you can identify the top priorities and speed up the project. You will also have a chance to see the disadvantages of making specific decisions.
To get the most from this approach, you can create a ranking scale from 1 to 10 and evaluate each advantage and disadvantage of the decision that you might make. Add the points and try to figure out which option has advantages that significantly outweigh the disadvantages. You can do this free-style or on a project management template of your choice.
4. Ask for advice
Project managers are leaders, not Gods. You can’t know everything – even though everyone expects you to.
There is something very humbling in admitting that you don’t know and that you need help. Seek help in upper management or other managers on your level that have gone through a similar situation.
Unless the information is confidential, you should also consider consulting with are your team members. They are directly involved in the project and might shine a light on details you are overlooking – ones that will help you make a better decision, faster.
It’s also important to stay true to your instincts and not get lost in all the advice you get. Take in everything, consider it, and then proceed with the choice that feels right to you. Many managers have said that they close their eyes and get in tune with their gut feeling when signing an important deal that concerns their whole team or the whole company.
Of course, if you try this, don’t forget to open them when you’re ready to write out your signature not run the risk of completely messing it up.
4. Consider all the possible solutions
As a project manager, you make decisions at every phase of the project. To make the right moves, you will have to evaluate the current situation continuously and thoroughly. One of the most frequent problems that project managers face is not having enough manpower to handle all the work.
This can really impact the team’s productivity as well as motivation when they are pushed to their limits and overwhelmed. In this case, it’s a good idea to outsource. Do this for tasks that your in-house staff can finish on their own, but takes a lot of time, OR tasks that they don’t have the necessary expertise to do, and their work is proving to be ineffective.
Another route you should consider is the automation of the internal processes. A digital transformation is something that can free up time and speed up processes – allowing your team to focus on what matters: creative work and innovation.
To make wise decisions in a short time frame is not an easy task, but as a project manager, you have the obligation to your team. Their productivity is in your hands. So don’t be afraid to try different techniques, ask for help and reevaluate the processes (automate and outsource). Your decisions will reflect on the overall performance of your team – during and after the project.
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