Business development · 4 November 2019

Is project management the new leadership superpower?

New research shows that workers are happiest at “agile” organisations and would appreciate managers who speak less and listen more. Where do you sit on the boss scale? Here’s how to turn your leadership up a notch with ace project management skills.

Britain’s employees are fed up with overbearing bosses, hungry to participate more at work and wished they had more of a two-way dialogue with their superiors, new research has found. According to the new survey report by Kimble Applications, two in three British workers feel they could do their job just as well or even better without their manager’s input.

Kimble’s Boss Barometer report, which surveyed 1,000 full-time employees in the UK, found that 46% of respondents have little faith in their managers and admit they believe they could do a better overall job than their boss.

What’s more, people are not looking up to their superiors – 56% they do not aspire to be like their boss or manager.

However, only half of workers would take their manager’s job if it was offered to them today, perhaps indicating that people realise management and extra responsibility is not an easy task.

A significant minority of around a third voice more serious criticism of their boss’s management skills. More than a third feel that their boss micromanages them too much. A similar number say their boss or manager has taken credit for their work or contributions.

Fewer than half feel their boss or manager is invested in their career growth and aspirations.

Despite this, and thankfully amid times of great division, a mutual respect persists between manager and direct report. 78% of employees do respect their manager, whilst 74% believe their manager respects them.

In fact, it seems most manager to employee relationships are built on trust and respect. Over two-thirds don’t find it difficult to be honest with their manager, whilst 73% also believe their manager is honest with them for the most part. An overwhelming 73% preferred a collaborative culture to help with decision making and delegation of tasks.

The combination of answers may suggest that workers are desperate for a more agile approach to work. Even though more companies are adopting agile management, the “partnership” and hierarchical models still exist, and may be impacting UK businesses’ ability to deal with the modern demands of work.

“British workers indicate their willingness to collaborate more whilst taking on greater leadership roles which are both key fundamentals to agile management,” Mark Robinson CMO and co-founder of Kimble Applications said. “This approach would alleviate a lot of referenced employee challenges, and allow bosses to motivate, coach and train employees, all skills that are wanted in a boss.”

“We are moving away from a world where it is seen as the bosses to job to tell people what to do. It is the boss’s job to provide clarity of mission and to remove obstacles to the team’s success. Divesting authority to those in the know will empower employees and enable greater development of a business. Companies that fail to adapt and ride with the times will ultimately fall behind the pace.”

What should managers be doing?

When asked what the most important skill for a manager to have today, nearly half said that the ability to motivate is most important. Decision making was scored the most important by a quarter of respondents whilst coaching and training was selected by 14%.

Although coaching and training were ranked highly in employees impressions of what makes a good manager, 32% of workers feel their manager is not invested in their career growth and aspirations.

“Where hierarchies exist, it can create a culture where colleagues pit themselves against each other to impress the boss, creating a cut throat working culture,” Robinson added. “Given a large majority of workers feel they can do their job without their manager, there is a sense of animosity that some managers may be limiting growth and development of those they manage.”

Grade your boss

When asked to give their bosses a grade from A to F, 22% of British workers gave their bosses an A, with another 35% grading their boss with a B.

Although workers want more collaboration, managers ability to delegate also scored highly with 24% scoring grade A and a further 39% scoring B.

Coaching and teaching was also an area where managers showed promise. Over half of respondents scored their manager at B or above on their abilities in this area.

Is project management the new leadership superpower?

The British workforce are crying out for better delegation, honest communication, and realistic goals and timelines. Project management is fast becoming a leadership superpower, which means staying on top of every element of your business. Common challenges that can keep any project manager on their toes includes keeping up with the pace of the project, managing resources and making sure it is on track and within the desired budget.

Ensuring success of a project involves knowing the ins and outs of a project, effective planning, proper work management system and evaluating the project.

If you can break down the daily operations of your business into mini projects, managing departments and functions accordingly becomes much more streamlined.

Once you’ve done that, here are our top tips on getting ahead of any project.

Know the project inside-out

To make a project successful, make sure you lay a strong foundation down. Identify the clients and the stakeholders and understand their interests and expectations regarding the project. Based on this, develop a solid project plan where the roles, goals and the job responsibilities are clearly defined.

To make planning more effective, establish measurable and trackable success criteria to make sure if the project is on the track or not.

Identify project requirements

Identify project requirements to better manage resources and time. Is what you’ve promised a client or customer actually achievable with the staff you have? Will you need to outsource one or more elements of the project? Is the timeline realistic?

Once the plan is developed, the next step should be to create a team capable of implementing the plan effectively. Define roles and allocate the right set of tasks, keeping in mind their personalities, strengths and expertise.

Define key milestones

The success of the project depends upon the knowing what key milestones are. Split the project up into phases so that they are bite-sized achievable chunks you can keep track of.

Start by creating the life cycle of a project which includes the main phases such as initiation, planning, execution and closure. You can perform an evaluation test after every phase and loop everyone involved in the project in.

These milestones are effective indicators of progress and can serve as motivation for your team of a job well done. You can also manage projects risks and can track the project progress by defining these critical milestones.

Communicate, communicate, communicate

Make sure that you are communicating the project’s scope, goals and timelines effectively and regularly with your team, external stakeholders and clients. The best thing you can do is to ensure that the communication lines between you and the people on the ground working on each element of the project are always open. Build a culture of collaboration and openness so that anyone on the team can walk up to you without any second thoughts, and clients feel comfortable picking up the phone with any questions or niggles they may have.

Identify risks

Risk management goes hand in hand with project management, and running a business. Risks are the potential threats that can topple progress at anytime. To make sure your project is successful, potential risks need to be identified early on so that you can add more time to the project as needed to troubleshoot issues at every stage.

Evaluate projects honestly

Each project can be a learning experience. Remember, an effective manager will always review the project as a whole, as well as analyse various elements of each project. Evaluate what went according to plan, what went wrong and why, as well as if things could have been managed better if you had delegated individual tasks to different team members. This will stand you in good stead for future projects.

The above discussed powerful tips can help you flex your project management muscles for better, smoother, and streamlined operations. It’ll also give your employees structure, set expectations, and help define their roles more clearly without you needing to become a dreaded micromanager.

We would love to know your thoughts on this article. What other tips you would add to the list that works best for you? Let us know by getting in touch at editors@businessadvice.co.uk.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

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