10 Secrets of Successful Project Management

Have you worked with a project manager that seamlessly balances different tasks, exceeds expectations, and hits numbers every time, all while making it seem easy? It’s no easy feat, but with these 10 habits you’ll set yourself up for success as you deliver on your own projects and grow your small business.

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1. Evaluates and reevaluates

Strong project managers don’t take the information they have as given. Instead, they put in effort to confirm that what they know is accurate, up to date, and complete. It makes a difference to double-check that your own understanding of the project matches everyone else’s by asking questions and filling in the entire picture before making decisions. This will also help you identify the areas that matter most, and what you can do to take the project to the next level.

Are you really on the right track? There’s no better way to tell than by reevaluating your strategy as it evolves. With the help of your team members, you can get a new perspective on your work and create a clear path to success.

2. Avoids overtime

Working effectively does not mean working excessively. While going above and beyond can be very rewarding, working overtime consistently isn’t a sign of productivity and can actually slow you down in the long run. Having all your projects under control without working beyond the end of the day shows excellent time management and efficiency. It also means that you and your team are handling problems effectively and not delaying other projects from being completed.

At the very least, you should be aware of the time you and your team invest in your project. Thinking about incorporating time tracking into your daily routine? It doesn’t have to be a mundane process involving spreadsheets and punch cards. Many project management software tools on the market actually have time-tracking functionality already built in. Learn more about the benefits of automated time tracking on the SmartBiz Small Business Blog.

3. Has a top-down view

When you’re working on the details of a specific project every day, it can be challenging to take a step back and get an understanding of how your work fits into the big picture. Make sure you do just that once in a while—prioritize your tasks according to what’s coming up in the future, what has the largest impact, and what needs to be resolved right now. If you know your company through and through, including the overarching mission, the industry, and the team, you’ll have a sense for the items on your agenda that matter most.

Prioritizing also means steering the team away from duplicating work and investing time and effort into low-impact tasks. Instead, everyone should be motivated to achieve the most worthwhile goals. While monitoring these details, the project manager should have the overall “why” in mind.

4. Facilitates others’ ideas

Great project management isn’t just about developing a plan and instructing others on exactly how to execute it. It takes dedication and trust in the team to integrate others’ ideas into the project schedule. Identify the key stakeholders in the project plan and make sure you have their buy-in from the start. Then, with good communication, you’ll ensure that everyone is on board and feels included in the plan.

Continue to check in regularly not only to keep stakeholders satisfied, but to build and maintain strong relationships. You’ll also get a richer understanding of the project’s significance, as well as how it relates to the company’s large-scale goals.

5. Learns from mistakes

As you continue to grow in your project management position, your education should never come to end. That doesn’t just mean through formal training, but with the help of the unique lessons you learn on the job every day. There are plenty of opportunities to gain invaluable knowledge at work. The first step is to admit that you don’t have all the information and haven’t mastered all the skills out there. Mistakes are inevitable, but not everyone takes a positive approach towards them and gains unique insight.

If you’re transparent and honest about your areas for improvement, not only with yourself but with your team, you’ll set yourself up for growth. Asking questions of the experts will inspire trust in your team and make you more approachable too. The best project managers don’t shy away from challenges, and those include closing knowledge gaps to make the management process the strongest it can be.


6. Asks the right questions

Even before taking the reins, successful project managers usually start by gathering the information to help them along their way. What better way to do that than by asking questions that get right to the core of your work? Posing your questions effectively will mean that you’ll be able to set expectations, understand the challenges you’re facing, and work with long-term goals in mind. As you set out on your project, you might find that your initial impressions of the work differ from the actual trajectory you’re on. At those key points, set time aside to check in and learn what team members and stakeholders are thinking.

7. Knows the whole team

It takes skill and experience not only to formulate the question but to approach the right people who have the unique insight you’re looking for. If you know all your team members well, including their areas of expertise and skillsets, you’ll be a more effective project manager. You’ll assign work to the people who’ll excel in it and empower your team as a whole. This will also save you time and ensure high-quality work every time.

Beyond the tasks at hand, getting to know your team can lead you to rewarding relationships. Do you spend time together not talking about the project schedule? Whether it be a quick coffee break or a team outing after work, learning more about your coworkers builds morale and makes communication easier.

Need some fun ideas to break the ice? Here are our top 10 team-building activities.

8. Resolves issues

Most projects will run into issues at some point. From big to small, these hiccups can be a source of stress for project managers of all levels. The difference lies in the way they’re handled. Successful project managers stay on track by displaying strong issue management skills, which are usually a combination of general experience and familiarity with the ins and outs of the business.

As you face challenges, no matter how minor, it can help to develop a strategy for dealing with them effectively. That way, you’ll form a consistent habit and be able to balance your responsibilities without burning out.

9. Deals with changes

No matter how intricate your initial plan, it’s nearly impossible to account for all the changes that come up throughout the course of the project. When the time comes for a pivot, understanding how to navigate the situation can make you stand out from the crowd. You should have a process in place for managing changes: start by gathering all the information you need to know from the source, assess the impact of the change, and come up with a game plan to rework the project schedule.

As the leader, you should also keep in mind the amount of work it would take for your team to implement the change and communicate that clearly. Creating a roadmap with defined benchmarks can help everyone align quickly and shift efficiently.

10. Understands systems and processes

Every group, department, and company works together differently. As the project manager, you should be in tune with those unique qualities and understand the processes that are generally followed in the organization. Some tasks might require a comprehensive, formal procedure, while others can be completed without the entire series of steps. The key is striking a perfect balance between efficiency and thoroughness. Your work won’t be weighed down by unnecessary steps but will also be well documented so that everyone’s on board.

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