You’re managing multiple projects, phases and resources. You’re juggling a variety of different timelines and clients, often causing conflicts. Team members are working across a number of projects placing different demands on their time. You’re handling change requests and attempting to meet everyone’s needs. You’re organising everyone’s workload and you haven’t even started looking at yours. Does this sound familiar?
In this series of blogs I look at the soft skills you need to get ahead in digital project management. When you’re working with ever changing variables of your team, your clients, and deliverables; to thrive under these often daily challenges you need to learn to adapt.
Here are my 5 top tips for harnessing adaptability when managing your projects…
When change is imposed, for example by the client, (we all know they like to throw curveballs in now and again), it can naturally create stress and angst, which in turn can make you, the DPM, become less adaptable, less flexible, and more resistant to change; behaviours usually counterproductive to achieving results. However, by adopting an adaptable, positive, can do mindset you will be able to embrace uncertainty, get comfortable with it, step out of your comfort zone and say ‘YES’ to this new challenge.
I do not claim to have the answers. All I claim to have is an open mind that is willing to adapt to new information as it becomes available. – Leif Ericsson Leo Veness
By being creative and not afraid to improvise you open yourself up to new ways of thinking to seek out new solutions. With an open mind you will be able to seize new opportunities and integrate new information, which may not always have been that apparent from the outset. Willingness to learn new methodologies and procedures can positively affect the outcome of your project.
Don’t get bogged down solely with the minutiae of your own project. Step back, look at the bigger picture, and see how all projects in the studio are panning out. With respect to shared resourcing, you should look out for any potential conflicts and ensure that not only your team but also yourself are not overcommitted. In essence, you will be able to switch easily between detail and a bigger picture.
This particularly helps when ambiguity sets in. Ambiguity has the potential to upset the balance of the project; people are unsure of what to do and this in turn causes chaos and confusion. People just want clear direction of what to do and where the project is going. Through self-awareness of your own communication style you are able adapt to suit the different contexts or situations throughout the lifecycle of the project – even if these differ from your own natural style. You will need to exhibit your leadership skills and be authoritative, making hard decisions for the project to succeed – cut through the crap, hold your own, stay on course, and keep the project on track.
As a DPM you may well have experienced a project that in the past didn’t go well and you are now faced with what seems like the same ‘project’; same client, same brief and same aggressive deadline. The mental scripts we have built up around this scenario can actually cause us to ignore the reality of a situation and dismiss any signs or new information, because our brains already ‘know what to do’ and ‘this is how we have always done it’. Being adaptable helps us to become less rigid, start breaking down these preconceived ideas and become more responsive to change.
Being adaptable helps you to become flexible and versatile, you are able to assess the changing priorities of clients and the impact this has and will have on multiple projects. You are able to manage more effectively the shared resources you have, and your own workload. You become persistent and tenacious, and with an open mind you are receptive to new ideas or suggestions from the team around you. Adaptability is one of the key skills to successfully navigating challenges in an ever changing environment.When it comes to empathy, there’s nothing soft about this skill! It takes time, effort and continual personal development for the DPM to master.
Want to know more about the seven soft skills you need to get ahead as a DPM? As well as practical tips you can start to use straight away? Please visit the Digital Project Managers page 🙂