Number 1: The first thing a new project manager has to focus on is building a good relationship with the client. Everything else will follow from that. But, if you are not paying any attention to it at the beginning, then they might not forgive any errors made by you.

It seems easy to focus just on the project by holding your head down, but keep in mind that your client (project sponsor, your boss, or Project Director) will be the driving force who is behind the project. What they are expecting has to be figured out and should be on your high priority list. You might not be able to understand what it is without having a good relationship with them.

Number 2: The second thing the new project manager has to concentrate on is the hierarchy of the project. This doesn’t mean the designation of the members who are in the project. It means only the hierarchy of significance of the concepts of the project and they are,

  1. Goals
  2. Objectives
  3. Protocols
  4. Plans
  5. Actions

New project managers have to concentrate their stamina on those five aspects, like any other project managers, in that order. However, the relationship with the client is the key to initiating the process of analyzing the goals of your project.

Number 3: If there is any concept that is subtle in project management and is more significant than any other, then that would be “The Triple Constraint”. It may be called by different names: the Triangle of Balance, the Iron Triangle, or the Time-Cost-Quality Triangle.

Whatever the name is, it is very important for knowing the competing priorities and tensions on your project.

At the Objective step in the project hierarchy, it is necessary to know the relative significance of the major three dimensions: cost, time, and quality. None of your problems will be solved by The Triple Constraint but it will make your options very clear always.

If you have properly understood the priorities of your client and the other stakeholders, then it will help you to choose wisely among your options.

Number 4: It’s easy for you to get trapped in planning, strategizing, and delivering activities that follow the Project Hierarchy. And most of them think that it is the essence of the project. Hence, all these are important.

It’s just the belief that places them center and front that might bring you into trouble. It’s because above everything else we consider Project Management to be the people’s discipline. If you think of planning, strategizing, and delivering as theoretical, academic, or abstract activities, then you will be lost.

So, as the new project manager, you need to focus next on people. This means three major things:

  • The Governance Hierarchy

It may be your project board, steering group, project assessors and auditors, and any other people who are accountable for the proper execution of your project. You should build a rapport with them and identify their concerns and needs so that you can address them properly.

  • Your project team

The team members are the ones who will make the project happen. Hence, they are equally valuable. Understand that you are liable for managing all the people involved in your project along with managing your project. This implies providing leadership and support, training and improving them, and assigning the work wisely.

  • Your stakeholders

These are the ones who will eventually decide whether your project will be a success or a failure. Hence, engage positively with them so that you can know more from them, inform them about your current actions, and when needed, influence them gently.

Number 5: Shift Happens!

All the projects are naturally uncertain which creates risk. New project managers always make a common error of preparing well for the risks by recognizing potential problems, evaluating their impact and likelihood, and then documenting the activities in the risk register.

Later they just forget them and move on.

Risks won’t be deterred by an amazing risk register. You have to work them energetically by using the register as the day-to-day tool for managing risk. This helps in lessening the risk outline of your project constantly.

One more thing

You need to remember one more important thing as a new project manager. You can easily be trapped in the above priorities I have mentioned, which can push you into the details soon. But you have to pull yourself back and view your project as a vast interconnected whole.

You also should be prepared to consider what you are seeing, what you are understanding and the patterns and trends that are not seen by others.

Create space and time once a week just for thinking. True headspace of half an hour with no interruptions will be the most productive time in the week.

Sometimes for sure, you will make no notes as you think of nothing. However, at other times, clearing your mind might bring something valuable to your project that has been overlooked, in your consciousness. Surely, the new project manager has to focus on this too.