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Taking over a project is tricky. You'll need to give yourself some time to digest everything you've just been given. Don't short-change this; you'll really need some time to decipher everything that the previous manager invented.
After that, you'll have to start organizing it in a way that makes sense to you and your team. This is probably where you'll start noticing the shortcomings in your project plans. If it doesn't make sense to you or your team, work with them until it does make sense.
There are volumes of books out there dedicated to project management, but for now you should try to keep it simple. Focus on your schedule, budget, and scope. If you can speak confidently about those 3 constraints, you'll be ok. Usually, one of them is more important than the others- for example, a hard deadline or fixed budget might mean you sacrifice scope for time or money. In reality it's a little more complicated- a lot of things can influence these constraints, and there are additional constraints to consider- so you'll have to refine those estimates as you learn more.
Let your project stakeholders know that you're transitioning in and you'll adjust your estimates as needed.
If you have an established project management office or workflow then I would become familiar with the policies and procedures of that first. Meet with the team to see what was working well and what wasn't with the previous person. Then take it from there to improve the processes.
If nothing had been implemented previously, start the ground work for establishing and implementing what works best for the organization. Be prepared though, if that's the case, some people are very weary of change...take it slow and steady. Best of luck!
I would start off by reviewing the project plans your predecessor left (assuming they did). From there, meet with your project teams and stakeholders to gauge where they left off. As far as meetings and emails go, if you are going to every single meeting and cc'd on every email, you will drive yourself nuts. Ask that the meeting minutes be forwarded on to you for review & have emails directed as necessary. It's important for folks to still feel some level of autonomy to perform their job without having to check in constantly.
It will depend somewhat on how familiar you are with the project and team. One of the first things I try to do is figure out who all the participants are, their roles on the team, and their respective statement of work Familiarizing yourself with the team will help you learn about the project, and whether the plan makes sense to you. Don't cause too much disruption at first. There is nothing worse than a know-it-all who takes over a project and wants to change a perfectly good plan on Day-1 before they understand why it was working, so practice active listening.
I personally encourage the team to invite me to and CC me on everything. I won't be able to attend everything, but it helps to know what is going on around you. That can drive you nuts as Rick stated, unless you figure out how to manage the time. Rather than constantly review emails, I plan out time during the day to quickly skim the new arrivals and triage them. Some I don't care about, others provide me useful information but don't require any action from me, others don't include all the right people and need to be forwarded for awareness or action by others, and some require direct action from me. In that way, I'm a conduit for information which is important because many times people are somewhat oblivious to what is going on outside their branch in the functional organization.
One other great piece of advice from Keith is to ensure you know and understand the roles and responsibilities of your team THEN make sure they know.
It always amazes me how adults will leave a meeting without a clue as to what they are supposed to do without asking for clarification. I make it my responsibility to keep that dialogue going.
I think, getting familiar with teams and their roles and prioritizing unfinished and ongoing tasks would be important at the start point. If you understand the objective of your current assignment that could give you an idea where to give more emphasis on. Also, try to get feedback from team members and set up a communication method that will keep every one update.
hey Gilbert.....good luck! You are getting great advice from several folks.
In all things; be a Leader!
May I suggest an icebreaker?...everyone in kilts!....Al (Alistair)
I have been in your position many times. I have a few suggestions:
1) Learn who the key Stakeholders are, then invite all of them to your next AOC weekly? meeting to introduce yourself and discuss your goals and priorities (remember SAFETY is always the first priority)
2) Meet with your team/Managers every day and have them fill you in on their progress and challenges.
3) Read& Edit or create your Project Management Plan. Write the Execution portion yourself.
4) This time frame may be shorter for you, But I Like to Assess each Team member's skills for the first 30-60 days. I then decide what changes need to be made, and I use my political capital (as the new PM) to convince my superior of the necessity for these changes and gain his approval. (My superior is usually the CEO) The performance of your Team will be a Direct reflection upon your reputation as a Project Manager.
5) Study or re-assess your Plans and Deliverable from a constructability viewpoint. The fastest way Projects get sidetracked is from Poor Coordination by Architects of the Structural and MEP Plans, The reflected Ceiling Plans and the Fire sprinkler plan, etc
I hope this helps! These contributions are a lot to digest!
From The Trenches!
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