If you could jump on the DeLorean and go back to your first years as project manager, what would you do differently? I have often thought about that as Chief of Operations, and here is my insight after over 13 years working at Virtualmind.
Always listen to your team:
If asked, all of us would say that we listen to others when they talk to us. More often than not, however, when we are discussing something in order to make a decision, managers tend to have a premade preference and listen only to those sharing their point of view. Noticing when you do this is a daily exercise: you should always ask yourself if you are allowing -and considering- all voices into the conversation.
You don’t have all the answers:
Being young and in charge of a number of people can sometimes make you believe that you have to know all the right answers. But it does not take long to learn that nobody can be right all the time. Learn to acknowledge your mistakes, and do your best to make things right as soon as possible. Also, be willing to say “I don’t know” from time to time. Your team will certainly respect you more when you are humble enough to learn from others.
Thinking “this will not happen to me” is not wise:
One of the best things you can do as a project manager is foreseeing risks and trying to mitigate them. While it is true that many things may never happen to you and you can’t always be on the lookout for potential risks, ignoring risk is like driving without a seatbelt: you are not in danger until you really are.
One thing you can do is assign certain risks to some team members, so they can monitor them and keep them under control.
It is crazy how so many of us spend hours and hours learning about processes, methodologies, new technologies, and more, and yet, we spend so little time getting to know ourselves. Invest time in getting to know the person that will determine your failure or success in life: you. You can not expect others to follow you if you don’t know who they are following.
Ultimately, we cannot avoid making mistakes, and mistakes are a great way to learn. However, if my experience can help some younger managers in their path, I would be glad to know that I saved them from some of the pitfalls I have encountered during my first years.