Your First Steps as a Project Manager

In this video you’ll learn how to take intentional steps towards managing your first project. Our host, Jennifer Bridges, PMP, talks will talk you through how to get your project off to a great start.

In Review: Your First Steps as a Project Manager

Jennifer talked about how to start your project off right when you haven’t had any formal project management training and find yourself to be an accidental project manager. She covered 7 steps to help jump start your project:

  1. Get organized;
  2. Solicit support from a mentor who can give you honest feedback
  3. Identify your go-to people in the team and organization more widely;
  4. Know your team, stakeholders and customers so you can get to know what they want;
  5. Set expectations for the project, both for your own experience and behavior and what you expect of others;
  6. Get involved in project management groups to boost your confidence and gather ideas from around the world; and
  7. Implement the systems and tools you need to be successful.

We hope you’ve enjoyed hearing these tips for initiating your project.

Pro Tip: Remember, as Jennifer said, your clients aren’t going to appreciate hearing that you are an accidental project manager. Act with intent to get your project started quickly and effectively.

To learn more about getting started in project management, check out this free ebook by Jason Westland, How to Be a Great Project Manager.

Thanks for watching!



Hello. I’m Jennifer Bridges, Director of Well, if you’ve ever found yourself walking down the halls of your company, and all of a sudden became the accidental project manager, then this whiteboard session is for you.

Today we’re talking about your first steps as a project manager. So, we want to talk about a few things of turning the accidental project manager into the intentional project manager. Because we may laugh about it in our groups or in the halls about becoming an accidental project manager, however, that may not make our clients or customers feel that comfortable about you leading an initiative.

So therefore, we want to, again, turn the accidental into intentional and think about, “What are the things that I have to do in order to start my project off right?” Okay, so we feel like there are seven steps that can help jump start this project.

Number one, get organized. If you think of, this is your first project, this entire process right here. Treat it as your first project. You are your most important project, so getting organized, getting planned, ready to start this project is very important. So get organized and think about, “What are the things that I have to do in place to be ready?”

So, number two, solicit support. I’ve always found it very important, even today. I’ve been managing projects for a long time. But today, I still have my own mentors and my sounding board. So it’s important to have a mentor, someone who has been there, done that on the type of projects. Maybe they’ve been there, done that in getting started as a project manager. Maybe they’ve been there and done that on the type of project you’re leading. Or they know your organization. But know the mentor that you can go to that can help guide you.

Also a sounding board, as we know, some of the most difficult things that happen on a project have to do with the people. So it may not be your plans in place that are that difficult, but just having a sounding board to bounce things off of, someone who can give you objective, candid, honest feedback and guide you as well.

Number three, identify your go-to people, not only in your team, but within your organization. Know who you’re going to go to for what. If you look at the lay of the land, there are a lot of people who are on the project who have probably built and nurtured relationships for a long time within the company or the customers, or your stakeholders, and can help guide you in getting things done. You want to know who to go to, to leverage for different things.

Number four, know your team, your stakeholders, and your customers. So, you may have worked with this group, and again, within that group you may have now been promoted for some reason as the project manager. But whether you’re familiar with the group or not, it’s really knowing them deeper from a deeper level.

So if now you’re a project manager, you’re going to be learning this group of people from a different perspective. The best way to do that is just go have a talk with them. So if they’re global, maybe they’re across the world, across the country, or down the hall, you can do things like schedule time by phone.

If you happen to be local and have the opportunity to sit down and visit with them, the best way to do it is face to face. But really know who are they? What makes them tick? What are they really good at doing? What are they really bad at doing, and knowing how to complement each other in different areas?

Number five is setting expectations. Not only for you to set your expectations, because now you’re the driver. You’re the driver of this project team, so people are looking at you to be the guide. So sitting down and thinking through, “What are my expectations? How do I want to lead this team? How do I want to manage this project?”

Then also reciprocating from these same people too, like what are their expectations? What do they need from you? So everybody knows going in the expectations. Where relationships fail, whether they’re on the team or organizations, is misaligned expectations.

Number six is getting involved. So we feel like getting involved online and offline is important, and whether it’s getting more involved in your project or your organizations and/or getting involved in LinkedIn. There are hundreds of project management groups, and finding different groups that appeal to you for information that you need, there are a lot of active groups that hold discussions. So that’s a great place to get in, get involved, get active, and asking questions, and getting feedback from all over the world, from your peers now.

Also, there are local project management groups. There may be other associations, but for sure, there’s the Project Management Institute, which is global. So they have chapters literally all over the world, but getting involved with people who are now your peers where you can bounce things off of.

We feel like learning in this profession is a give and take. So it’s not just taking information from people, but also giving back, because you’re going to know information too. So it’s reciprocating in sharing information.

Then number seven, implementing systems, going ahead and setting up, what are the tools that you need? What are the tools, whether it’s Excel, whether it’s PowerPoint, whether it’s project management software? Also your templates, being able to start things quickly by having templates in place that you can easily replicate.

So we feel like the key words here in starting your first steps as a project manager is to think through, “How can I mobilize, socialize, and globalize quickly?” Because, again, your clients are not going to think it’s humorous to see you as the accidental project manager. They want to see you as the intentional project manager. So they’re looking for you to get in and mobilize quickly, be able to collaborate with everyone on your team.

So if you’re looking to socialize, mobilize, and globalize quickly for your team, get your tools and templates in place, and set your first steps as a project manager, come sign up for our software at


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