• How to Lead from the Front as an Architecture Project Manager

    Being a project manager can be a tough job, regardless of the field that you work in. Architectural projects have many challenges, and being able to lead multidisciplinary teams is one of them. Sometimes having someone who could mentor you would be the perfect solution to those more complex issues you come up against.

    Of course, this isn’t always possible so if you feel like you could do with a helping hand then it may be worth contacting a company like Parallel Project Training. They may have a course that could help you feel more confident. In the meantime, here are our top tips on how you can lead from the front in your projects.

    Set your expectations and don’t give up on them

    Setting and then managing expectations can be one of the hardest things you will do as a project manager. Unfortunately, most architectural projects start with a collection of unknowns from budgets to timelines, which can make this difficult.

    When you are setting your expectations, it is a wise move to talk things over not only with the members of the team but also with your stakeholders as well. Set yourself some smaller deadlines along the way and when you are between these deadlines make sure you check up on everything, talk to your team and see if anything that has already been done will change your goals. There is nothing wrong with tweaking things based on issues that have come up or checking up on things as long as what you are doing has a purpose.

    When in doubt, communicate

    It can be easy as a project manager to get lost in your budget spreadsheets, Gantt charts and documentation, but it is important not to forget that there are people you need to communicate with as well. Check in on your team and see if there are any issues that might cause problems with your budget or timelines – if you communicate with them then they are more likely to communicate with you and let you know as soon as an issue arises. Your stakeholders will also want to be kept in the loop too. So, if you hit a snag that may delay things, communicate this to your stakeholder. Likewise, an issue with deliverables that may cause an increase in the budget is best communicated straight away. Your stakeholder may not mind a little rise in cost so long as it doesn’t delay the project overall.  Face to face is often best but if you can’t manage this then arrange a telephone call or a video chat.

    Be honest

    As a project manager you are the key contact for everyone, that means having to deal with multiple different requests from every angle. One of the key project management skills that you will need her is being able to communicate with everyone in an appropriate and effective manner. This means knowing how to speak to everyone from your junior team members, CAD designers and building engineers, to name but a few examples. You need to be able to do this in a way that ensure everyone still respects what you say to them.

    Being honest might seem the natural thing to do but it’s amazing how easy it can be to slip into the concept of telling a little white lie here or there to soften the blow of some negative information that you need to deliver later.

    Put the team first

    As a project manager it isn’t difficult to get caught up in the demands of the client, the scheduling and the delivering of the end product for your project. It is however important to consider the team who help to make the successful delivery of the project possible, without them and their hard work the delivery of a project that is successful would be even harder and more painful.

    Not everyone works the same

    Very often you will not get to choose who will be on your project team. Although, if you require particular skills, you may be able to request individuals who possess those skills, and you may find yourself with a real “melting pot” of different individuals who all have their own working style. Whilst this is fine as a rule, there will be times when different individuals on the team will need to work together. Therefore,it is important that compromises are made in the way that they work so that there are no issues. As the project manager it is your role in the team to ensure that there is communication between the different personalities in your team and that those individuals who do not work in the same way can work together. In addition to ensuring the work is completed on time and to any budget, this is also important from a safety aspect.

    The client is an important team member

    It is easy to believe that the client is simply the one who you are completing the project for. However, the person setting the timescale and the budget is in fact more than this. The project team that you work with to complete the project are only a part of the project team. The client is also an important team member and as such it is important to ensure that they are kept as much in the loop as the members of the team.

    When you include them more in what is going on they are more likely to be on board when there are small changes that it would be wise to make but which may move the timescale of the project or cost a little more.

    Have faith in yourself

    As the project manager you are the one who has the industry experience and the project management qualifications. Whether you have worked on just a few projects or a lot you need to have confidence in your skills are a project manager in order to help see your project through to a, hopefully, successful conclusion. When you are confident about what you are doing this will instil confidence in the other members of the team.

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