Tales of a first-time project manager

I recently managed a Communications project for YNPN-TC with a group of badass young professionals. Our task seemed simple: update an existing document with YNPN-TC’s brand guidelines and create four new resource guides with social media best practices. I am going to reflect on the process of managing this project, what was challenging, and some personal and professional growth that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my career.

The process

The team broke the project into two different parts. First, we all worked together on updating YNPN-TC’s Brand Ambassador Guide. For anyone who is not familiar with a resource like this, the Brand Ambassador Guide is a comprehensive document that outlines YNPN-TC’s voice and how to communicate on behalf of the organization in a way that reflects the brand. This document is a source of information for volunteers, members, and anyone who will be talking about the organization in the community. From that, we each chose a social media platform to research and created a document that combines industry best practices with YNPN-TC branding. These social media resource guides will be utilized by our volunteers who manage these platforms. From project assignment to Board approval, the entire process took about three months to complete.

The lessons learned

Being a project manager does not mean that you know everything. And you don’t need to.

I think it is safe to say that all of us have dealt with project managers that do not listen to their coworkers. And we can all say that it makes for a stressful environment. Being the project manager this time around, I empathize with the leader that falls into that mindset. At the beginning of this project, I definitely felt the pressure to be all-knowing and that I should have all the answers. To be frank, it is scary. I was afraid that my fellow volunteers would think that I am an unqualified fraud. However, shortly after the project began, I realized that I was wasting energy on being nervous and insecure because the project manager does not have to have all the answers. And honestly, if they did, there would be no point in collaborating with other people. The camaraderie and cohesion of the group contributed to the success of the project and that couldn’t have happened if I wasn’t vulnerable with my team and worked alongside them as their peer. I also found a lot of comfort in reading YNPN-TC Board Chair Sarah Crumrine’s blog on feeling like a fraud.

Plan plan plan, but prepare to be flexible.

When you’re leading a project, you need to keep the team on track. And that means that you need to plan out every detail in order to ensure that your project gets done on time. However, you need to go into the process knowing that it will inevitably fly off track at some point. Life gets in the way, other priorities come up, and the leader needs to be cognizant of that fact and adjust as needed.

Be confident!

As a young woman who is fairly new to the workplace, there have been many professional situations where I feel like my skills are underestimated and I need to work harder to be taken seriously. Unfortunately, I know this experience rings true for many people in the workplace. To all of you who feel unheard or under-qualified, know that your opinion matters. You have an important point of view and your organization will benefit from your contribution.

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