Projects coordinators struggle with many challenges. Constraints, risk, deadlines and — perhaps most importantly— people motivation and cooperation.  In this blog, we share our perspective on the most important difficulties projects managers face and how we as M-Powered support our clients through them.

How do you build an empowered team?

This challenge has many dimensions and can be perceived in a different way by each of us. Personally, I think it depends on your style of management. For visionary leaders, it can be quite difficult to focus on distributing tasks, monitoring them, and dividing responsibilities. However, for most professional project managers, the most challenging aspect of their work is managing and motivating their team. They may have extensive knowledge and years of experience managing complex, large projects, but they still struggle to motivate the people they lead.

Everyone is different, and no one can be perfect at everything. The good news is that we don’t have to be! What is important is that, as project managers, we are aware of our strengths and our weaknesses. Through this awareness, we can develop our management style in a way that accentuates our strengths and accommodates for our weaknesses. This is especially important when it comes to leadership. People can sense a hypocritical or contradictory approach to leadership, and it can taint team relations. Being true to your strengths, weaknesses, principles, and values makes you a more authentic and therefore more effective leader.

We developed our Empowered Team Management workbook to support project managers to build an effective leadership and management approach.  It is a practical guide with nine exercises on how to manage and empower a project team in a European or international project. The workbook is designed in such a way that you can use it independently. However, it will be much more enjoyable and productive if you carry out these exercises with your project team and use them to stimulate discussion. Through this guide, you will learn how to:

  • Build and manage your project team,
  • Effectively use a steering committee,
  • Use team management tools such as RACI,
  • Organise effective meetings,
  • Develop and motivate teams.

How do you develop an effective project management system?

The start of any project can be a confusing time. We need to set up all the project processes, engage our team and partners, and create a foundation for smooth project implementation. The kick-off meeting can, therefore, end up being quite stressful as we try to cover everything.

Preparing a Project Management Handbook can help to alleviate some of this pressure. It sets out everything so that you do not have to squeeze so much detail into your kick-off meeting and can provide that foundation for project implementation. Our Introduction to Project Management workbook provides an exercise that can help you to design your own Project Management Handbook that will clarify the roles, tasks, timeline, and responsibilities of all the project team members. It also includes handy checklists for planning and monitoring progress, reporting, and preparing your handbook.

We would also encourage you to use the project map tool included in the guide. This is a comprehensive, graphic tool to present all aspects of your project. It can be used during meetings, in the reporting process, and when presenting your project.

How do you balance your work and your personal life, and encourage your team to do the same?

Work-life Balance (WLB) is essential for a healthy, meaningful, and fulfilling life. If you, as a manager, do not value WLB and model good practice in this area, it undermines its importance and communicates to your team that they should not prioritise it either.

Initially, this can yield positive results! And you might feel that you are modelling “good work ethic” and promoting that in your team. However, this is simply not sustainable.

Teams that do not take time to relax and enjoy a social life or hobbies will, sooner or later, burn out. This increases staff turnover and can cost your organisation a significant amount of time and money. Constantly recruiting and training staff is not an ideal situation for any project manager. Modelling and promoting good WLB can therefore be an important investment in your organisation as well as the wellbeing of both you and your team.

If you feel that you haven’t yet mastered your own WLB, or are struggling to implement an effective WLB policy at work, we can help! Our Work-life Balance for Project Managers guidebook is a 44-page guide to work-life balance principles and how best to implement them. It includes a detailed plan for a workshop that you can run with your team to help develop a shared, effective WLB approach for both you and your team.

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