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Effective Project Manager: A Guide to Excellence

Introduction: Three Secrets of Project Management

Being a leader of a particular project is both exciting and exhausting. It requires that not a single opportunity should be missed and that all resources must be used in order to achieve the established goals. However, organizing the work of a team of employees, planning the project strategy, and watch every single piece falling in its place as the project is being implemented does have a specific charm to it. As a rule, any project can be handled if approaching it with the right leadership principles, the appreciation of the employees and their contribution to the company, and the realization that every single capacity of the company must be used fully in order to achieve positive results (Brown & Hyer, 2010, p. 5). Despite the fact that the project in raising people’s awareness concerning recycling and convincing them to use the services of the company that I worked for was my first experience in leadership, I dare say that I handled the tasks that I was assigned in a very decent way. It was only with the help of efficient leadership combined with a mixture of good logistics strategy and an effective promotion campaign that appealed to the customers’ common sense that the project happened to be a success.

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The Precious Experience of Managing a Project: Analyzing Past Mistakes and Achievements

Although my experience of being the manager of a project was relatively short, it still helped me define the key responsibilities of an MP, as well as the responsibilities that the person that supervises the entire process has. While working at the Circle of Life recycling company, I was given an opportunity to head the project designed to encourage people to recycle more often and bear in mind the need to keep the environment cleaner. The given project also presupposed that the Circle of Life Company could help people in reducing pollution, therefore, was aimed at increasing the company’s revenues, as well as attracting more customers, who would use the services of the company (removing the waste and selling it to the companies using recycled materials). Hence, it was crucial to target two groups of potential customers at the same time, i.e., attracting both the people, who would use the company’s waste collecting services and the companies that would buy the recycled material in order to produce their own environment-friendly goods. Seeing how the Circle of Life Company was defined as a small enterprise, it was especially important to keep the cost relatively low and seek the means to utilize the available resources to their maximum capacity (Ilies, Crisan & Murisan, 2010, p. 43).

Technology is a friend: considering some useful applications

The first thing to learn concerned about the power of information technology of the XXI century. With the help of several well known social networks, including Facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace, it became possible to promote the organization that I worked in and make it quite popular among a range of people.

In addition, the project benefited impressively from the use of information technology as the means to organize the information management process (Kulesza, Weaver & Friedman, 2011, p. 121). In the course of customers’ behavior analysis, our team had to browse through impressive amounts of data. Apart from information acquisition and processing, it was required to distribute it equally. Hence the need to create password-protected databases emerged, which was handled efficiently with the application of modern information technologies. By increasing the capacity of computing information in the acquired equipment, our team managed to collect the information that defined the demands within the specified market (domestic and industrial waste collection) and provide the staff with full access to this data, at the same time maintaining information security (Joslep & Burger, 2005, p. 29).

Leadership skills and their significance: time to motivate and inspire

Perhaps, one of the most important lessons that the previous experience of project management has taught me concerns the necessity to have excellent leadership skills in order to arrange the work of several teams of people and coordinate their progress, as well as make sure that these people have the skills and motivation required to make the project truly outstanding. In my case, my subordinates clearly lacked the motivation to do their best in order to make the project stand out of the range of similar concepts. Therefore, it was necessary to shape the leadership style in order to make the teamwork more productively. After an anonymous survey conducted among the employees, it was discovered that none of them felt committed to the project.

Switching from a laissez-faire leadership style to a mixture of charismatic and transformational styles appeared to be the answer to the problem faced within the given business setting (Brown & Hyer, 2010, p. 28). To start with, it was obvious that the employees needed incentives, both money and appreciation of their efforts; therefore, even with the complete absence of the latter, it was decided to offer the staff additional financial rewards, as well as recognition of their endeavors and appreciation of the work that they have accomplished. The given strategy, however, was not enough to enhance the employees’ productivity; to make the results of their work more fruitful, it was required to introduce a role model for the project members to follow, both in terms of work organization and the results quality (Barburo, 2005, p. 26). Thus, the laissez-faire leadership strategy, which led to employees becoming less responsible, was replaced with a more recent yet nonetheless efficient leadership strategy known as transformational leadership. Demanding that the project manager should become a role model for the employees to follow, the given method allowed for shaping the employees’ organizational behavior relatively fast manner. The results were truly astonishing; in two weeks after the given leadership model was applied, the employees started showing better performance results, and the project was finally revived.

Procurement and logistics: the art of cutting corners

Another crucial aspect of working on a project, which often leaps through the cracks and, thus, is passed unnoticed until the project is ruined, the need to come up with a decent logistics and especially procurement strategy should be mentioned. Often taken for granted, the choice of transportation methods affects the total costs of the project; as my own experience has shown, once a reasonable logistics strategy is chosen, the costs can be cut considerably, which will allow for making the project more advanced by integrating relatively expensive technologies, using better materials, etc. (Andersson & Norrman, 2002, p. 11).

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In the course of the project, it was decided to transport the recyclable materials collected previously to the end customers using the services of a particular transportation company. The given choice was rather reasonable, since the Circle of Life Company did not have the required equipment at the time, and it was practically impossible to transport huge amounts of waste to the end customers. When making the choice between the transportation company that provided the fastest services (two days of transportation) and the one that transported the source material considerably longer (ten days), as the leader of the project, I decided that it was best to use the chances to make the working process easier by acquiring additional equipment and cutting the costs for transportation (Crawford & Pollack, 2006). Therefore, the second avenue was chosen.

As a result, it was finally possible to acquire the equipment that sorted the waste efficiently and, more importantly, faster than the employees did manually. In addition, the increase in revenues allowed for a better promotion campaign that encouraged people to use our products, which included containers for domestic and industrial waste, as well as separate containers for paper, metal objects, trash, etc. Naturally, the given choices in logistics allowed for more opportunities in terms of project promotion (Newland & Tanaka, 2010, p. 6). After the required changes in logistics have been made and the promotion campaign included in the project was carried out to make people pay attention to the recycling issue, a considerable surge in awareness regarding the need to recycle could be observed. In addition, the Circle of Life acquired more customers, who preferred our company because of the legend behind our new campaign and the transportation services that we offered (Longman, 2004).

Analysis: The Lessons Learned and Their Significance

There can be no doubt that the given experience provides a lot of food for thoughts. In the course of managing the given business project, I realized how many components such projects consist of and how much effort is needed to keep them together. There is more to projects than planning and assigning people with tasks; it is necessary to know who can handle a particular task in the best way, as well as come up with a well thought out plan for bringing the costs down, choosing the leadership strategy that will allow for maximum supervision yet still provide the employees with enough room for making their own choices and feeling significant, etc. Therefore, the basic and, perhaps, the most important lesson learned from the given project concerned the necessity to be a good leader and be able to communicate with the employees efficiently. Apart from the HRM issues, the project designed by Circle of Life has proven the necessity to use the existing resources to their full potential and be flexible in choosing the aspects that need to be advanced.

Conclusion: The Ultimate Piece of Advice for a Project Manager

The process of managing the project that my company assignee me with was anything but easy – it was required that I should be flexible enough to apply different strategies, resourceful enough to notice the faults in the project implementation and seek the means to correct these faults, and, most importantly, this experience has taught me that a good project manager must make sure that every single element of the project is in its place. It is crucial to use the latest technological advances, yet prior to upgrading the tools, it is imperative to build trustworthy relationships with employees and arrange a knowledge management system (Brennan, 2011).

Reference List

Andersson, D. & Norrman, A. (2002). Procurement of logistics services – a minute’s work or a multi-year project? European Journal of Purchasing & Supply Management, 8(1), 3–14.

Barburo, J. E. (2005). Motivation and transactional, charismatic, and transformational leadership: A test of antecedents. Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies, 11(4), 26–40.

Brennan, L. (2011). The scientific management of information overload. Journal of Business and Management, 17(1), 121–133.

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Brown, K. A. & Hyer, N. L. (2010). Managing projects: A team-based approach. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

Crawford, L. & Pollack, J. (2006). Uncovering the trends in project management: Journal emphases over the last 10 years. International Journal of Project Management, 24(17), 175–184.

Ilies, L., Crisan, E., & Murisan, I. N. (2010). Best practices in project management. Review of International Comparative Management, 11(1), 43–52.

Joslep, C. & Burger, J. (2005). Duke’s story: How one university simplified its flexible staffing model. CUPA Journal, 56(2), 25–30.

Kulesza, M. G., Weaver, P. Q. & Friedman, S. (2011). Frederick W. Taylor’s presence in 21st century management accounting systems and work process theories. Journal of Business and Management, 17(1), 121–129.

Longman, A. (2004). Project management: Key tool for implementing strategy. Web.

Newland, K. & Tanaka, H. (2010). Mobilizing diaspora entrepreneurship for development. Web.

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