New and new companies and start-ups are being set up every day. Entrepreneurship is flourishing and more and more people put to practice their ideas. The technology advances very quickly, all thanks to brilliant minds that work at developing it.
However, there is a huge demand for employees, ranging from project managers to business analysts or graphic designers. People travel a lot or move abroad, and so the flow of people is constantly changing. This means that some positions experience changes in tasks, as they are urged to take more responsibility.
Project managers have begun to have more tasks and manage more than one team. Multiple team membership is a new phenomenon that is investigated by psychologists and researchers. Whether it may seem simple to manage more than one project at the same time, this can prove to be difficult even for experienced project managers. Each human has its own personality and working style. And while you may adopt some of its characteristics to the team environment, some are quite stable.
This comes with a great challenge for project managers, as they have to juggle between projects and tasks. Besides great time management skills, they also need to develop and improve their conflict solving and leadership skills. Their tasks are to maintain good communication between the clients and the teams, but also to maintain good communication within the working teams.
Having so many things to do, to manage and to handle, project managers might find themselves stressed or frustrated. But there are a few tips that can help managers successfully manage multiple projects at the same time.
1) Get to Know the Personalities of the People One’s Work With
Besides managing projects, managers also work with a lot of people. Whether they are clients or just coworkers, knowing their personalities and what motivates them would be very helpful. Knowing the essential traits of the people a project manager works with, will ease the process of communicating information and handling difficult situations.
For example, some people are more introverted than extroverted. While the extroverts are very sociable and outgoing, introverts like spending time with themselves. Knowing who is introverted will help manage the team tasks. Introverted people are shyer and less enthusiastic than extroverted people, so a manager needs to allow them to show their real value.
However, these are not the only qualities that need to be taken into consideration. Motivation is also a factor that contributes to the performance of the team. People are different and so are the factors that motivate them.
While some may be more motivated by extrinsic rewards, like a bonus, some are more motivated by intrinsic rewards. They need to feel they have accomplished something important and that they have met their goals. A beat on the shoulder might work better than a bonus, depending on the personality of the employee.
Of course, this is valid not only for fellow workers but also for clients. A project manager is a link between the client and the team. So, knowing how the clients handle conflicts or communicate their wishes is important. Why? Because sometimes you may experience delays, and knowing how to communicate bad news can truly make the difference.
There are some psychological tests used by career counselors that can be done online. It would be helpful to have a profile of every human involved in the project. Like this, they get to know themselves better and their team members. And a project manager will use the information to encourage bonding within the team and transparent communication.
2) Encourage Growth
If a project manager has access to the personality profile of the team members, is easy to deduce what factors affect their retention. Knowing what motivates them can help a manager increase their productivity and performance. People are different and there are different benefits that make them happy with the company.
They not only need an onboarding presentation but also training on the job. However, it is not enough to provide only technical guidelines or pieces of training. They also need to feel encouraged to take more challenges, to attend more workshops or domain conferences. A project manager needs to know their strengths and weaknesses, to know which tasks are the best for them.
3) Do Not Forget About Generational Gaps
Generational gaps are more and more obvious in the workplace. Millennials are more and more present in companies and start-ups and come with a great asset. They have a fresh mindset and they are open-minded. They will work with Generation X and even Baby Boomers, where the differences between them need to be handled carefully.
Millennials expect support and guidance along their career path. They want to develop and improve their skills and they want clear feedback. This is an aspect that equally matters for all generations. The delivery of the feedback might be different. Millennials and other younger generations want a casual and lightweight discussion, while older generations might expect feedback in a written form. If handled correctly, all these differences can make teams even stronger.
4) Resource Management
One of the problems that might arise when managing multiple projects at the same time is over the resources. A project manager needs to make sure that all teams have the equipment they need. But, when talking about resources we do not talk only about practical ones, but also about people. The most important resources that get the work done.
Sometimes it may be needed to share some people between projects, potentially causing disruptions in their efficiency. Changing a team, even if it is for a limited time, can prove to be stressful for some people. And while these cases cannot be overlooked, as a leader and a manager one has the job of supporting his people. Encouraging them and being there when they need can alleviate the potential negative effects.
5) Do Not Multitask
Whoever says that multitasking is efficient, was wrong. The myth of multitasking influences the working style of so many people nowadays. Recent research shows that multitasking reduces your productivity by 40 percent. This is a lot.
However, managing multiple projects at once urges you to multitask, as urgent topics need to be handled and prioritized over others. The solution is to organize your tasks in your calendar and block a session of 20 minutes for every task. To fully find flow in an activity one needs to avoid all distractions and concentrate only on one specific task.
6) Track Progress
This is valid not only for the managed teams but also for managers. Why is this important? Working on multiple projects at the same time can become pretty chaotic and stressful. And tracking progress is the key to accomplishing your goals. By tracking progress, a project manager will know how the teams work.
They will know when a team experiences difficulty or if they will solve them within the deadline. Managing the teams’ progress and performance might be tricky, but regularly conducting status meetings can make this task more bearable. Status meetings allow project managers to have an insight into the work of the team and quickly support them when needed. Like this, they ensure that everything is going as planned.
7) Manage Expectations
Every team has its expectations regarding the project and manager. And so does every team member. But so do the clients, customers, and stakeholders. To ease your job, establish a climate of trust and transparent communication.
There is common for projects to experience delays or to change some features. And communicating these aspects clearly and openly helps to build a trustful environment. Honesty and sincerity are among the most appreciated qualities of people.
Managers need to focus on strategic work and planning, so delegation is a solution for their enormous workload. This does not mean that they do not do their job. Instead, they recognize the opportunity to encourage their colleagues’ growth.
While strategic planning might require a lot of time as it needs to be done for more than one team, some tasks can be delegated to team members. This sends the idea that the manager trusts the team members to take care of a task and contribute more to the team’s performance.
However, the delegation of tasks needs to be done with clarity and simple explanation. Whoever is going to accomplish the task needs to know what they have to do. It is important to let them know that mistakes are natural but to aim at avoiding them. And if they need support, they will surely get it because they all work in a collaborative environment.
9) Set Clear Goals
To track the progress of the team and the performance of team members, a project manager needs to work on the goals along with the teams. They need to be involved when there is a discussion about deadlines or new tasks.
But also when the teams work on their goals. To avoid misunderstandings and delays, the goals can be built after the SMART goals model. Like this, they will be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bounded.
10) Choose the Best Tools
One aspect that can ease the management of multiple projects is choosing the right tools to do it. Having so many people to manage and communicate with can be overwhelming, as there is an incredible amount of information exchanged.
Of course, choosing the right tool depends on the project, the team and the resources available. Some great project management tools are especially helpful when managing multiple projects at once. They can keep all the data stored and organized while allowing them to switch between projects.
Always take into consideration the time and costs associated with tool implementation. For example, cheaper tools come with more time for implementation, so maybe it is not the best idea for the moment.
Managing multiple projects at once can be stressful and overwhelming.
A project manager needs to communicate effectively and track the progress of the teams. He is the link between stakeholders and teams, so he needs to know what factors drive their motivation and even anger. People need to be supported and encouraged to grow and develop their skills.
However, depending on their age, the approach should be different. Managing expectations and setting clear goals can make some tasks easier.
Managing multiple projects at the same time comes with challenges, but in the end, it proves to be a fulfilling job. livescience.com