Taking over a software project in mid-stream can be difficult depending on how well the transition is handled. I should know, I was recently in this position when my current employer hired me as project manager about one year ago. It was my first position as a project manager. I was ready for the challenge, but anxious as to how I would best hit the road running ...
In the first 100 days of the job, my top priority was establishing trust between myself and my team members. I needed to trust my team to execute the plan and they needed to believe that I would get them what they needed to accomplish the plan. To gain their trust, I used the following strategies:
Listening: One of the qualities of being a great project manager is communication. In my situation as someone new to the team, I practiced active listening. This is important because each project team is unique in terms of its culture, strengths and problems. And I listened to the answer. I was able to quickly diagnose the issues to start plotting the right course.
Learning: When one of the five projects that I inherited was behind schedule, I asked the crucial question "Why?" By asking this question, I began to see how best to adjust the current plan.
I also took the time to understand past project decisions, team members' strengths, as well as stakeholder expectations. Being able to understand our stakeholder allowed me to better communicate/manage expectations for the path forward. Knowing my team members' strengths enabled me to effectively align the planned tasks with the right individuals. With good working relationships and a view of the big picture, I had one more piece to the puzzle to put into place.
Leading: I truly believed that in order to earn my team's trust and the stakeholders' confidence I must act with highest integrity and transparency. How do I accomplish this in my day-to-day activities? By consistently communicating what I plan to do and doing what I planned.
There were bumps and bruises along the way, but by the end of the first 100 days, my team and I trusted each other to accomplish the goals we set forth.
Questions to my fellow project professionals: What was your early project management experience like? And what was challenging about the experience?