Just yesterday you were involved in several specific tasks for various projects and now your supervisors entrust you to manage your own? Or perhaps your project idea received funding and now you have a chance to realize it?
Congratulations! You are at the start of a very exciting and challenging journey. And it is never smooth even for experienced project managers.
That is why we collected some tips that might help you navigate through the first months of project management until you establish your own planning and implementation style and strategy.
1. Know your documentation: study all relevant project and funding programme documents to have a full overview of project activities planned as well as administrative and legal requirements for project implementation and reporting.
It is a good idea to have the Grant Agreement and the Submitted Proposal handy at all times.
Certainly, in the beginning, you might need to refer back to the documents often and double check every detail, but later you will know all the rules by heart!
2. Be confident and assume leadership and responsibility; however, never take things personally. The project you are managing is not (only) your personal ambition, it is a joint EU-funded work of the project consortium and it is in everyone’s interest to make it successful. When making independent decisions, consider their impact on partners, on overall task implementation and extrapolate the efficiency of your proposed solutions.
3. Think realistically and strategically: proper task division is crucial for a successful project, therefore, delegate internal tasks wisely, provide clear guidelines and set realistic timelines for task completion.
If a deliverable is due by the end of the month, do not wait until the last week, assuming that your colleagues/partners will draft it (even if they’ve done it before).
Plan ahead, excel in your time management skills: have a clear overview (printed out and pinned to a wall in your office) when deliverables are due, when meetings and events are scheduled and how much time is needed for the completion of technical and IT tasks.
4. Communication is key: if partners have (legitimate) concern about your management decisions, communicate with them, know their reservations and propose alternatives. Organize regular meetings and discussions with your colleagues. Remember, the team you oversee now, supported you yesterday.
Do not be shy to ask for support from your senior colleagues, as you can always rely on their experience and accumulated knowledge.
5. Be proactive and motivating, serve as an example for the team you manage! Don’t stress out in challenging situations and don’t look for excuses fif your management decisions affected project results. Offer solutions and help instead, learn from best practices and try solving the issue again!