My First ever experience as a Project Manager

by James Fox

Last week was the first time I had ever managed a team in my life. I wouldn’t say it was an easy experience – but it was a rewarding one.

I wanted to write a short guide on the challenges and solutions the team and I came up with during the week, but I feel that Hesham’s and Hanna’s blog posts cover most of the bases.

In fact as part of my preparation for the role I read through each of their blogs and made sure to incorporate their reccomendations from the start.

A few of the essentials that I would highly recommend include utilising checklists for everything, asking people with more experience for help with specific challenges, and thinking about challenges you may run into – and preparing for them.

Anyway, my week was more of a challenge for my emotions rather than my mind. I felt like I naturally slipped into the shoes of a Project Manager (perhaps from my previous job in Sales), so managing the client relationship, keeping calls on track, and scoping and descoping requirements wasn’t too easy, but not too difficult either.

On the other hand, what I did not expect was that most of my challenges lied in how I guided my team with their workload.

I found that the majority of my focus for the week was on how each of the team members were feeling, and if they were heading in the right direction or not.

In some ways I feel this is somwhat akin to being a parent.

But as a non-parent myself (for now) I have no idea what it feels like to raise a child! Anyway, this was very emotionally draining for me. I felt like I had carried the emotions of my team alongside my own for the week, and though I had done no work on Tableau or Alteryx – I was seriously shattered by 3pm on Friday.

Nevertheless it was such a wonderful feeling seeing the results of their hard work and gratitude from the client.

I’m not really sure where this blog post is heading, but in summary – it was an amazing experience that I learnt about myself and each of the members of my team. I think it might be one of those things where you just have to do it in order to see for yourself.

But if I was to impart some advice onto you, dear reader, I would recommend taking a step back and taking a deep breath when it feels like its all going Pete Tong.

It’s really hard to explain, but I found the best way is to guide – rather than command. Imagine you are an old farmer with your walking stick, and you’re trying to guide some ducklings into their pond. That’s kind of what it feels like.

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