As a project manager, forming good work habits is essential for running a high-performing team. It's always easier to prevent issues rather than treat them, so before bad habits have the chance to set in, establish these beneficial practices.
Don't let negativity bring down your team
Your mission is to power an efficient and productive team, but you can't do that without also taking care of team morale.
A happy team will collaborate more naturally and produce better, faster work. As a project progresses and deadlines start to kick-in, a positive work environment will go a long way in keeping people motivated and encouraging teammates to lift each other up when mental or physical exhaustion sets in.
Foster a collaborative space where all ideas are heard and discussed. Don't let problems go unaddressed, and treat each person on your team and their feelings with respect. Your work environment should be a place where everyone can grow with the project.
As Ed Catmull, President of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation, once said, "A hallmark of a healthy creative culture is that its people feel free to share ideas, opinions, and criticisms. Lack of candor, if unchecked, ultimately leads to dysfunctional environments.”
Don't shy away from detail in your Project Plans
A Project Plan is the backbone of any project. It's a crucial piece of documentation that ensures teams know who is doing what, when their deadlines are, and what resources they will need and have available to them along the way. Without a detailed plan, it is impossible to reliably predict delivery dates, foresee upcoming issues, or adjust strategy quickly when necessary.
Begin with the goal and stated objective(s) of the project. Think about who the client is and how the outcome should represent their brand and fulfill their requisites. Define what your deliverables will be and what the finished project should look like by the end. Detail any necessary resources.
Once you know the goals, deliverables, and resources, it's time to map out how you're going to get from day 1 through completion. This is where you begin to flesh out your timeline. Taking into account realistic time expectations, your team's availability, budget constraints, etc., you can predict how long each portion of the project will take, which team members you will need and when, as well as begin to set milestones. Team and individual responsibilities will need to be clearly defined to prevent any redundancies or gaps as well as establish accountability throughout the process.
For the budgetary portion of your plan, you will need to itemize every last ingredient of the project. It sounds tedious, and it is; plus over the course of the timeline items will be added or changed. But having this guide will keep you from overspending or losing control of the project's progress.
Don't try to make things work without the right tools
An organized team is an efficient team. And with project management tools such as Backlog, you have the ability to digitally organize your project from start to finish.
Using Backlog, you can create multiple projects, track your entire team's workload, and invite team members to collaborate directly. Tasks can be categorized and subcategorized, and each task can be assigned with detailed information including useful documents, status updates, and due dates. Comment sections let team members document updates, ask questions, and address problems.
By putting all your work into a project management tool like Backlog, you can create transparency across your entire project, get a high-level view of where every task is at any given moment, and see when each moving piece is expected to be completed. As your project develops and changes take place, Backlog can act as an archive to reference for answering questions or explaining obstacles.
Don't fall asleep at the wheel
Monitoring progress and ensuring that people are taking responsibility for their work is a huge part keeping your project on target. That's why having a tool like Backlog (that makes monitoring progress so easy) such an invaluable piece of the puzzle.
Backlog tracks project statistics for you. When you open up a particular project, the right panel hosts a variety of data for you to evaluate. A Burndown Chart shows progress over time, graphing time remaining versus work remaining as well as actual progress versus predicted and ideal progress. You can also see the status of all issues under that project including how many are open, in progress, resolved, and closed. Milestones and categories are also graphed out in the same fashion. Depending on how you need to analyze these details, the right panel provides several viewpoints of how your project is going.
Monitoring every assignment of your team can seem like micromanaging if you approach it that way, but it's actually a great opportunity to develop your relationship with your team by opening up communication with them throughout the process. The more easily you're able to come to each other with updates and issues, the faster you'll address problems and resolve issues. Tracking progress can, in turn, reinforce a positive work environmental and encourage more interaction and productivity.
Make these (good) habits part of your project management routine, and you'll be on your way to seeing your projects succeed.