For newly-minted digital project managers, concrete advice about how to do your job can be difficult to come by. This is why we set out to create the playbook for digital project management with our community of 900+ project managers, to help new and established project managers navigate their roles and responsibilities.
By 2027, experts predict that the number of employed project managers will increase by 33%, or by close to 22 million project managers. PMs will be especially needed in industries like information services and publishing, management and professional services, finance and insurance, and healthcare.
As more people enter the workforce or choose a career in digital project management, there is a need for more information on the ins and outs of the job for those considering it. Things like project management training and project management courses are a big help, but what about good old-fashioned advice from someone working in the field?
I asked our community of DPM members to weigh in on their best advice for new project managers for those of you just starting out or considering a career in the field.
Here’s what our DPM experts had to say.
In this article
- Practice Your People Skills
- Invite Yourself To Meetings
- Have Regular Check-Ins
- Keep Asking Stupid Questions
4 Pieces Of Advice For New Project Managers From DPM Experts
The responses we received in our member’s forum covered a wide range of advice that new project managers can build into their workflow and projects immediately.
1. Practice Your People Skills
In his advice, Galen Low referred to building and using your people skills as “social engineering”. This involves motivating your team members to do what’s necessary to get the project done using a variety of methods.
According to Galen, “to get the job done, you’re likely going to have to charm, barter, beg, flatter, manipulate, and otherwise persuade team members, fellow PMs, line managers, directors, and executives to keep the tides tilted to your advantage.”
But he cautions against crossing any lines with unethical behaviour: “…even as you traverse the grey areas, know where to draw the line between ethical and unethical. A ‘lie, steal, and cheat’ approach might work once, but won’t get you very far in the end.”
2. Invite Yourself To Meetings
Sally Shaughnessy’s advice is to attend as many meetings as you can, especially those that are relevant to the type of work you are doing or the type of PM role you have.
Here’s Sally: “Try to get an invite to as many creative and technical meetings as possible, even if you have to bill it to training (that’s for my fellow agency PMs!).”
And while you’re in those meetings, she also says it’s important that you’re “listening [to] the conversations, hearing the verbiage used, how they are approaching the problems to solve, what tools they are using…”
3. Have Regular Check-Ins
Sally also talked about the importance of conducting check-ins with both your teammates and your boss on a regular basis. According to her, “When you connect with people and understand their working styles, their personalities and what’s happening in their lives you will be able to manage expectations and set them up for success in a more thoughtful way.”
4. Keep Asking Stupid Questions
Ben Aston’s advice is all about getting past worrying about whether asking questions will make you look like you don’t know what you’re doing.
Ben says that when it comes to not knowing or understanding something, “it becomes a problem when we don’t try and solve that”, and questions are the best way to solve it.
Here’s Ben: “Being able to get over yourself and your ego and ask questions that could make you seem ignorant and look stupid is a great way to learn, and learn quickly.”
What Do You Think?
Do you have any advice for new project managers? Have your say in our forum thread here, and make sure to weigh in on the other topics we’ve covered. You’ll also be able to connect with fellow project managers (a great resource for new PMs!). Access to the forum requires a membership.
Curious about the PM life? Check this out: Project Management Tasks: What Does A Digital PM Do All Day?