How To Survive Being A Lead Project Manager
When you are the lead project manager on a very important assignment for your company, it can be stressful. Deadlines approach fast and you work long hours (plus time on the weekends). Your director is relentless and demands an update every hour. You are already giving more than 100 percent and you are totally exhausted. Does this sound familiar?
How can you reduce the anxiety of approaching deadlines, calm your nerves and the nerves of your team? It’s hard but it’s an important thing to master. Failing to do so, will not only jeopardize the outcome of the project but can be a very stressful time for everyone involved. Take charge of your project, take charge of your team and take charge of your health by making these simple modifications:
Meet only when necessary
Meetings can be a time waster and a source of frustration for members of your team. You should meet in person only when it is absolutely imperative to do so. Even then, invite only those members that have a direct impact to the project at hand. Have each member attending come to the meeting prepared to give a short report (of just a few sentences) detailing where he or she are in the project and what they plan to accomplish tomorrow. Keep any meeting to less than one hour. Better yet, use project management software with an online component. This should be the centralized source for all updates. Each team member should write down his or her daily progress so that everyone can see where the project is at any given time.
Blow off some steam
It’s ok to take a little time to have some fun while you are working so hard. On occasion, make sure the team knows they are appreciated by bringing in lunch or provide a delicious morning coffee bar. Let your team have a little bit of down time to have some enjoyment, no work talk – just laughs, then return refreshed with better mental energy to go back to working hard once again.
Exercise is a great stress reliever – not only for you but also for members of your team. Encourage your project management team to take time away from the project to exercise or meditate. They can even do some simple exercise in their own office cubicle. If you find that people aren’t taking the time for themselves, set a time in the schedule for a group walk around the building. Nothing helps mental health more than outdoor activities.
Limit outside interruption
When a project is important, everybody in the company wants to get information. Make sure your team is protected from these disruptions by letting all other departments know that you are the sole point of contact. Your team should not be bothered to answer any of their questions. Their focus should be on what is really important, the project. Your team member’s time is too valuable to be wasted on status reporting to other departments.
In the end, it’s up to the lead project manager to keep focus on deadlines and the team members’ energies. After all, successful project completion requires a coordinated effort by all key participants. Just manage the stress as best as you can – it’s the only way that you and your team will survive. Once the project is completed you’ll look back and be proud of what you’ve accomplished and you’ll wonder how you ever make it through. Good luck!