You are skilled at holding successful team meetings, delegating the work and giving directives. You are known for your great communication skills and provide timely answers to questions and feedback on individual’s work.
Although there are many tangible factors that affect the success of your projects, you can achieve a higher level of leadership through intangible skills like trust, adaptation and knowing your team.
Mastering these three principles will motivate team members to willingly perform at their highest levels.
The Primary Intangible: Trust
The skill of creating trust comes from several aspects of the project manager’s personality and behavior.
The first is sincerity: Be honest and authentic. If you lack confidence, you may be tempted to pretend to know more than you do. Succumb to this feeling at your own risk, because everyone involved will eventually see through this strategy and you will lose their trust. Stand behind your words, and your team’s faith in you will be solidified.
Next is competence: Pay attention, take ownership, listen and welcome open communication. If you are distracted or fixated on the wrong things—or simply lack the subject knowledge—your attention to detail and ability to identify and recognize the proper courses of action will be hindered.
Make sure to listen and value each person’s contribution and never allow yourself or others to dominate other team members. Listening to your team members will cultivate an environment in which team members feel valued and motivated.
Reliability: Do what you say and keep your commitments. A strong project manager’s word carries the weight of a promise. If you tell someone that a task will be completed by a certain time, you have two options: Deliver, or reset the expectations the minute you know you will not be able to deliver on time, while also proposing a new timeline.
The Art of Adaptation
Adapt to the needs of those who work for you. Your job as a strong project manager is to meet each team member more than halfway. Ask yourself, “What is this person’s communication style? What motivates him or her?” Adaptation is a critical piece of the puzzle and it enables you to achieve the highest levels of communication with your team and colleagues.
One example of when adaptation is appropriate is in situations when the needs of the project and the project team don’t quite fit standard processes. This might come in the form of a misunderstanding about project priorities.
If this occurs, the culpability lies squarely on your shoulders as the project manager. Team guidance and task prioritization are fundamental; you need to assist those who are having difficulty prioritizing multiple requests.
For team members having difficulty performing their duties according to process, an adaptive project manager might give these team members clearer responsibility and accountability for these duties, along with the appropriate support structure.
Knowing Your Team
Some people are more private than others, but if you cultivate a personal connection, outside of the usual to-do lists they typically receive, you will have better success. Trust and respect within the team are cultivated by making these personal connections, while keeping working relationships professional.
People have different needs and styles. Some require micro-management, others thrive on public recognition and more independent workers do their best with minimal managerial involvement.
Your team will notice when you do things just for them, even if it is something as simple as adapting to their communication style.
The intangibles of trust, adaptation and knowing your team are essential skills. Cultivate them and you should enjoy success not just in managing projects, but in life as well.