6 Minute Read

5 Tips for Jumping Into Project Management When You’re New

Project management is no easy job and it’s even more difficult if you’re trying to get the lay of the land at a new gig. However, you will need to do this at some point, and in fact, when done right, it will increase your value as a consultant, make you invaluable to your new team and give you lifelong skills that can be transferred from industry to industry.

1.  Shut up!

Some will disagree with me, but I think it is more important than your supervisor may realize. A CareerBuilder survey indicates that 77% of employers seek candidates with soft skills including listening. Whether you have project management experience or not, being placed in that role means you will have to use those excellent listening skills your teachers and parents always reminded you of.

Project management requires many skills, but especially when you are the new person, it is important to learn about your colleagues (even your boss) and clients. Take those first couple days (maybe weeks) to be a sponge.

  • Listen and observe everything
  • Physically take notes
  • Make eye-contact
  • Give feedback
  • Speak up when spoken to

During this process you should also make sure your non-verbal communication is in check.


2. Dive into the Process 

After the listening phase, you should be eager to engage with clients and actually produce results, but this will be difficult if you don’t know internal processes to get your job done. Every company or team will already have a process in place before you show up and it’s important to learn them quickly. Dive in and learn how to work within their software and processes. This may be a bigger challenge than you had anticipated considering on average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic. This will make your job of Project Manager much easier on the technical side, and let you focus on relationship building. This can be really tough if they have no internalized processes, so if there are none, start thinking of how you can organize your clients, projects and workload to avoid that chaos infecting you.

Every team has processes in place before you show up and it’s important to learn them quickly. Click To Tweet

3. Find a friend (or two)

There is no better way to fit into a new position, than by finding a colleague you relate to. As a project manager, client communication will be high priority, but internal communication will ultimately benefit your mental health. You can do all the research you want on your coworkers and clients, but those little important details will come from those who have already been there. This insight is invaluable (plus it is always good to play nice with others). Gallup found that close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50%, and who doesn’t want more job satisfaction? At Red Branch Media, we use a tool called Vitru to evaluate our strengths, preferred work style and select teams for specific projects. 

A Gallup study found, close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50%. Click To Tweet


4. Be Intentional

You strive to be productive and show your skills to coworkers and clients; but unfortunately, it can easily backfire. With every action you should contemplate the reactions and possible consequences. I am not necessarily talking about getting yelled at or possibly fired. This means understand your given position of project manager, and how your actions will “look” to those around you. This may be difficult if you are a natural extrovert, who acts first and thinks second. “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” – Newton’s Law of Motion.


5. Learn to read people

This is definitely a learned skill, but refer back to #1 if you don’t know where to start. There is no question that as a project manager you will be communicating with clients all over the country and most likely not always in person.  There will be times when your client has a different communication style than you, and it is important to communicate to them in their style. For most communicators this is easy in person, and can be adjusted while on calls but what about everyday email? We rely on email for many reasons, but we also know that it can be misread. Consider a program like Crystal Knows to improve your email communication skills. You will learn tips for each of your email contacts, that will make you seem like a communication savant. Then take these tips and use them in face-to-face communication.


These are only things to start with, don’t overlook the factor of time. Nothing works right away, and no one gets to know each other in just a few days. The role of project manager is important within your company, and you have the responsibility to make your coworkers and clients trust you.