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PM Tips: The Ten Things Project Managers Should Know

Event Highlight
PM Tips


Program/Project Managers receive formal training in schools, institutions, and even boot camp courses. Typically, these courses focus on obtaining your industry certification or project management methodologies. Once the courses are complete you go into the real world and start working as a project manager and approaches differ from what you learned. So what does a PM need to know?

This month’s PM Tips comes from PMI Toronto’s December event hosted by the GTIS Branch. The meeting focused on essential real-world skills for project managers. The concepts and detailed covered at the event discussed strategies to help Program and Project managers be successful in their roles in business or IT projects. The evening’s guest speaker, George Kiang, reflected on his personal experience as a project manager and shared 10 lessons he learned as a PM working at different organizations.

Meet Our Guest Speaker



George Kiang is a professional business and program manager with a 30+ year track record of managing organizations and delivering strategic initiatives with integrity and accountability. George has also served on the senior management teams of four successful start-ups in three different countries all while managing global integration teams for five financial institutions.

Lesson 1: Begin with the End in Mind

As a project manager, you want to begin with the end in mind, having a clear vision of your destination. Visualize and work backward; you set up a natural internal compass to get there proactively by keeping the end in mind.

Lesson 2: If You Fail to Prepare, Then Prepare to Fail

As Benjamin Franklin rightly said, learning, practicing, making, or planning something without proper preparation will not end in success. Similarly, your project will unlikely succeed without adequate planning and preparation.

Lesson 3: Battles are Won Before the Fighting Begins

Planning and preparation are the deciding factors in project success. For example, you have a big presentation to make with higher management, and you fear there might be some disagreement that could block your project's flow. Deliver the presentation decks to these groups, collect their feedback, record them, note them on the presentation, and reiterate them in the meeting. That way, you can get a consensus before entering the discussion.

Lesson 4: Preparedness for Contingency—The Story of David vs. Goliath

The story of David and Goliath teaches us a lesson about preparedness for contingency. In the story, David picked up five stones from a creek but only needed one to defeat the giant, Goliath. He had other stones ready to go in his pouch in case he needed them. As project managers, we need to wear different hats. Depending on the situation, we must be organized and great communicators. At times, we need to be agile, adapt to change, yet other times we need to influence others to comply with us.

Lesson 5: Try Not to Bite Off more Than You Can Chew … but You Will

The only real constant is change and you have to prepare to face change all the time. Not everything will go according to plan. So you should always have a buffer in your schedule to handle any unanticipated changes.

Lesson 6: Stay Calm and Carry On, but Do Escalate to Your ‘BFF’ (aka Your Sponsor)

Your ‘best friend’ is your sponsor. Whenever you call upon them to get their support or to have them escalate should a problem arises. There needs to be an authentic partnership built between the sponsor and project manager. The level of trust between the project sponsor and the project manager must be high. From the beginning, the project manager and sponsor define expectations and decide on the formality of their relationship. They need to set up a safe way to resolve differences and tackle issues to enable each other to pivot when plans change.

Lesson 7: Ordinary People Who Do Extraordinary Things

There are many different people on your team. These are extraordinary superstars who work with others to deliver impact. Engage the people on your team and you will be surprised at how much they do to make the project a success.

Lesson 8: Pressure is a Privilege

Whenever something feels overwhelming because there are a lot of expectations, it's important to remember that you earned the right to be able to have that. Your experiences along the way put you in the position to feel that pressure. And if you weren't doing something important, you wouldn't be experiencing it.

Lesson 9: Stories Connect People and Will Captivate Your Stakeholder Audience

Allow your stakeholders to connect the facts and understand why captivating the audience with an emotional connection matters. If the audience can relate to your own stories, you will build trust and make a connection. Use your personal experience to become relatable.

Lesson 10: Your Attitude Will Determine Your Altitude

Your attitude determines your ability to succeed. How you respond to challenges, approach change, and deal with difficulties—even how you think about yourself—are critical factors in success, both in life and business. Thus a project manager needs to uphold a positive attitude to overcome the project's challenges.

Follow these essential tips to enhance your project management experience.



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