Tips on starting a new Project Manager job

Moving jobs and having to get used to a whole new bunch of processes, technologies and people is always a challenge.

When I started my Project Manager job here at Code last year, I moved from working within a technical agency that used a waterfall process to a creative agency that was all about agile; not quite as dramatic as crossing the agency/client divide, but still a major change.

With this in mind, I thought I'd use my own experience to put together a few quick tips for any PM starting a new job.

1. Be prepared to go back to basics

Your first couple of weeks in your new job are unlikely to contain any major milestones like a huge go-live date or big pitch, so you should have plenty of time to set some foundations and ease yourself into your new role.

But while you're busy doing the basic stuff like learning everyone's names, helping out with admin tasks and making lots of brews, you can still establish what kind of PM you'll be once the going gets tough. The fact is that your skills around communication, organisation and decision making will be useful from the off and they'll help you to make a positive impact while you learn the ropes.

2. Lots of your knowledge will be transferable

In my previous job, I spent a lot of time getting deeply familiar with the specific platforms that my old agency used -- and obviously the prospect of having to get to know a whole new load of technologies at Code didn't exactly fill me with joy...

The good news is: lots of the knowledge you acquire about technologies will be transferable. While different content management systems might use different terminology and layouts, they're all underscored by the same key industry principles, be it 'mobile first' design or test driven development -- so getting to grips with the new CMSs that you're working with probably won't be as tough as you think.

That being said, working with new technologies is a great opportunity to widen your knowledge, explore new ways of working and build your confidence, so don't be tempting to rest on your laurels either.

3. Don't be afraid to ask your new Project Manager colleagues plenty of questions

You'll probably feel like you're pretty much constantly asking questions in your first few weeks. But no one's better placed than your fellow PMs to advise you on all the quirks of your new workplace -- they'll already know the clients, your team and the best way of doing things -- so make sure you plug them for as much info as possible.

During my first week, I got to attend a special advice session with my colleagues where I got a really helpful insight into everything from the big stuff (like the most important thing each of them had learnt so far) to the small-but-equally-important details that make every day easier (like who in the Finance team to keep on the good side of).

If you're not going have chance to take part in a formally arranged session like this, then just going out to lunch or down the pub with some of the Project Managers will do.

4. Speak up if you think there's a better way of doing things

As a new addition to the team, you'll be uniquely placed to bring a fresh perspective to things.

Though it's not a good idea to suggest changes just because "that's how I used to do it2, If you see a genuine opportunity for improvement, you should always speak up.

After a new role yourself? We're currently looking for a new Project Manager to join the Code Computerlove team -- for all the details, head over to the Jobs page.

The original version of this blog appeared on the DPM Conference blog.


Combatting the death of the homepage