Social Capital of Project Management

7.12.2016 »
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How do you ensure a project runs smoothly, while keeping your team motivated?

Project Management Illustration

Project management is much more than running meetings and setting schedules. It is truly the art of working with people.

Too often, a project manager’s efforts are too narrowly focused on quantitative data and scheduling. This project takes X days, this should cost Y. There’s no flexibility in mathematics.

That’s why I recommend a different approach. Be a people person. Work with your resources, internal and external, to come up with real solutions.

Instead of digging in your heels and insisting a project is impossible, why not look at it from your client’s perspective? Figure out what their needs are, and construct a plan that will meet those needs without compromising your team’s timeline or resources. Bring your team together and put together a game plan. Innovate and adapt. A process should really be a starting point, an ideal scenario - not a strict timeline and schedule you have to adhere to at all costs, no matter what.

True project management is a social endeavor. It’s about learning your team, and your client, and working with all of them to produce an end result everyone is happy with.

No project runs 100% smoothly, and there are always bumps in the road along the way. This is where what I like to call social capital comes in. If you’ve been building working relationships, as well as including both your team and the client in the whole decision-making process, they are just as invested as you are in making things work. Everyone will be more likely to push a little harder to meet a deadline, or provide content that much sooner.

A project is only as good as the least invested person on the team. So work to make sure everyone is on the same page, and everyone has skin in the game, so to speak. Let your team set their schedules; just verify that it matches up with client expectations. Resist the urge to micromanage every step along the way, give your team autonomy. Let them become invested in the project’s success, instead of simply working along a predetermined schedule with daily check-ins.

In the end, a project manager has complete ownership of the project as a whole, but ideally will act as a sounding board and leader for the team, as well as a partner for the client.

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