Using Creative Project Management Skills Across Your Agency
Let’s face it: your agency’s departments must communicate with each other. They may not like to admit it, but they must. As a project manager, you know that effective cross-departmental communication is crucial if your agency wants to get anything accomplished. And one of your primary focuses as a creative project manager should center on facilitating these exchanges.
To help foster collaboration and communication, refer to the following tips on how you can use creative project management skills across your entire agency.
Looking Beyond Mechanics
On the surface, traditional project management focuses on the mechanics of execution. If you’ve ever taken a project management course, you were most likely taught how to create a project plan, identify tasks, navigate process, mitigate risk, and manage scope. Sure, these are crucial elements of project management—and having a strong foundation means that you can apply these concepts to produce tangible results.
However, being aware of the mechanics behind a project is only step one in applying creative project management across your agency. If all you do as a project manager is apply these relatively abstract concepts religiously, you may find yourself approaching projects as a taskmaster, or even worse, a micromanager.
At the core of every agency is the creative process. And often, this process is counterintuitive. If your organization is only driven by tasks, productivity, and outcomes, you risk stunting the creative process and isolating your team—especially when you work across your agency’s myriad departments.
Paying attention to the mechanics is an important, even crucial, element of project management. However, being able to look beyond mechanics (and adapt according to circumstances) is what will guarantee project success, time after time.
Paying Attention to Emotions
Being a project manager sometimes requires you to serve as a social facilitator. Just think of the numerous personalities you’ve encountered over the years. The best project managers recognize the value of emotions, relationships, and teamwork in the workplace. Being able to anticipate, react to, and fulfill each employee’s wants and needs (within reason, of course) is what guarantees an accountable, productive team.
How do you do this? Simple: be cognizant of feelings (both yours and those of others) in the workplace.
That’s not to say that you have to be all smiles, all the time. In fact, you’re allowed to be human around your employees. However, it’s important to be able to refocus your thoughts and moods to react to situations. Being able to navigate the emotional landscape of your project team allows you to get an objective perspective of situations.
Making Sense of it the Process
Managing your agency’s creative affairs is an active process—not a passive one. Thus, it is your primary role to make sense of the greater picture. You should routinely be asking yourself: “How are my daily decisions contributing to the agency as a whole?”
As we mentioned before, being strategic is only the first piece of the project management puzzle. Project managers are the key translators of projects. They translate goals, objectives, and tasks into tangible outcomes. You should be able to lead your team by providing direction to each disparate part of your team so ideas and concepts converge.
Much like the creative process, creative project management is by no means linear. Unfortunately, there is no “right way” to manage a creative team. But being able to make sense of your industry’s mechanics, your project team’s emotions, and your agency’s process as a whole will create effective project managers.
About The Author
Mike joined Workamajig back in 1997 and now serves as the Workamajig Director of Training and Support.