A core part of our work is starting new change projects with our clients. Our apprentice, Benjamin Barnes, has had a range of ‘new starts’ in the last few months.
Here he reflects on his learning so far and the importance of starting well, whether it’s a new project, new training or a new job.
Six months into my role as Trainee Project Management Consultant, I have worked on four different projects. I’ve taken part in a recruitment drive and begun an apprenticeship in Project Management. Going into a new environment is always challenging, but there are things we can do to make transitions smoother.
Here are my reflections on what I have learnt so far:
1. Determining what is required
The first thing I learnt was how important it is to really understand the task at hand – what is the problem the project is trying to solve? What are the key factors it needs to address? Projects can be similar, but no two projects are the same, so I try to approach each one with a blank slate, and make sure I really understand the aims, objectives and context before starting.
2. Understanding your role
I’ve learnt that in project management, roles are not always clear cut and sometimes there’s a real sense of everyone just rolling their sleeves up and getting stuck in! This makes my work really varied and fast paced, and I must make sure I have clarity on what’s expected from me, from both my team members and our clients.
3. Putting the people into the Project
As a company we pride ourselves on getting to know and understand the people we work with. We often say, “Change is driven by people, not process”. It’s easy to get lost in completing a task, but it’s important to consider the impact your work will have upon those working around you. I have learnt to speak to all those involved and affected by my work, because they are the experts. If you are implementing a change, they’re vital to the project and creating a bond will allow you to work as a team.
Collaboration is key to the success of a project; it provides unity and strong working relationships where ideas are shared to determine the best course of action. In my opinion, the success of a project is down to how you manage your relationships with others.
4. Thinking of the next steps
‘How are we going to drive this forward?’ is the question that comes to mind when I think of next steps. In project management, you must always be thinking ahead. This was something I found difficult at first, coming from a background of reactive work, but now I find myself asking myself ‘what next?’ to make sure I’m focussed on the end goal and not just the current task in hand.
As Project Managers it is important to be thinking in the future, but it is equally as important to look back and think ‘what have I done?’.