4 Tips for Making a Good First Impression

Kick-start your project management career with four steps to win over your new team.

18 October 2010

When you’re the new kid on a project team, you’re bound to feel a bit nervous. You’re trying to fit in, while still dazzling the team with your project management prowess.

Here are four tips for make a lasting impression — for all the right reasons.

  1. Know how to delegate.

    Eager to prove themselves, new project managers often simply take on too much.

    “When I first started, I thought that I had to do it all,” says Johanna de Villiers, CAPM, PMP, project manager at Percepta, a global outsourcing firm in Warley, England. “Managing projects does not mean doing everyone’s job for them. When a task or item is assigned to someone else, let him or her be accountable. It is their responsibility.”

  2. Maintain clear communications.

    Communication can make or break a project, and the ability to converse with your team and clients effectively is something that new project managers must master.

    “When I first started out, I found a lot of the issues we had as a team were just simple misunderstandings,” says George Dimitropoulos, PMP, a service delivery manager and senior project manager at Nextgen Networks, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia. “Keep the lines of communication open and clear, but more importantly, be transparent to all.”

  3. Don’t be afraid to show confidence.

    Many new practitioners feel like they can’t be too assertive, says Jayant Manerkar, associate vice president at KPIT Cummins Infosystems Ltd., Pune, India. It’s okay for the project manager to be accommodating, but be firm if issues arise with your customer.

    For example, “A project manager should exhibit his assertiveness when the customer is demanding changes to the scope of a project without agreeing to the change in the original schedule and costs,” he says.

  4. Know your stuff.

    The easiest way to earn respect is to go in with the right knowledge. If you lack on-the-job experience, earning a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® certification can help build a fundamental understanding of project management terminology and processes.

    “A lot of the time new project managers work on projects but may not have the overall responsibility of the project,” Mr. Dimitropoulos says. “The CAPM® certification allows you to gain experience and have that experience recognized by your employer and peers while working on projects and developing your craft and skills.”

    Going in armed with the CAPM certification also makes a statement about your commitment to the profession.

    “It endorsed the fact that I was qualified and could be relied on to do a good job,” says Ms. de Villiers. “It also gave me a solid foundation on which to build and it leads to further qualifications such as the Project Management Professional (PMP)® credential.”

    Other ways to become educated in the profession include attending professional events or taking educational courses to improve your knowledge base.

    Becoming an effective part of the team inevitably takes trial and error, but following these tips should get you off to a good start.