Peter Taylor
Author: Peter Taylor

The following is a list of the Social Project Management Tips we have uncovered to help you on your way to becoming a, shall we say, ‘better’ social projects manager.

Social Tip Number 1 – You cannot create a social world on your own

Project Managers know what is expected of them, they want to do a great job, and they want to remove the inefficient practices they have to work with (around) each day and yet change to a more efficient social world takes time and effort as well. The same is (mostly) true of a project managers team members and so there is a good foundation for learning and evolving the best use of social tools.

Your team can help you become a better social project manager.

The key here is that success, social project management success that is, cannot come about purely from you the project manager. You can certainly offer up a vision of a more social world and you can most certainly describe the value that this would bring about for you, for the project ,and for the project team, as well as for your organisation. But, you cannot create a social project world as an individual. It just doesn’t work that way. You need to involve others and you team can, and must, help you become a better social project manager.

Social Tip Number 2 – ‘Structured’ and ‘Social’ are not enemies

Social project management is based upon the philosophy that, in order to be successful, most projects need the structure of a project plan and associated emergent collaboration and coordination. When teams can enjoy the benefits of both the structure of a formal project management and the rich online features available in today’s online collaboration environments, the results are very powerful.

These together can allow you to deliver more effective projects.

The key here is that an unstructured world is not an effective or successful social world because you cannot have one without the other. For a project manager, even a project manager in the modern social collaborative world, this interaction and ‘socialness’ needs to be built on a platform or framework of good and solid project structure. Failure to do this leads only to confused communication and invalid collaboration, weak or incorrect decisions, and a prognosis of high project failure rates.

Social Tip Number 3 – A project manager doesn’t do everything

Projects need collaboration, a project manager cannot do ‘it’ all themselves and there would be little value in what a single individual can achieve anyway. Projects are, after all, the way companies get things done.

The key here is that a project manager is the person responsible for accomplishing the stated project objectives, we all know that. Nowhere is it ever stated that a project manager does everything, of course not, a project manager does not directly get involved in the activities that produce the desired end result, but rather oversees the progress and interaction of the various resources allocated to that project in such a way that reduces the risk of overall failure, maximises potential success and thereby delivers the expected benefits, whilst managing costs and quality. In other words projects need collaboration; a project manager cannot do ‘it’ all themselves, and any way of enhancing that collaboration can only be a good thing.

Social Tip Number 4 – The project manager gains from a world of ambient awareness

Social project management encourages the use of the system for peer-to-peer and peer-to-project communications, creating the maximum ambient awareness for the team.

By creating this ambient awareness then your project team will engage with and contribute to much more and in a more time effective manner.

The key here is that a project manager gains from a world of ambient awareness which is a term used by social scientists to describe a new form of extended social awareness. This awareness is propagated from relatively constant contact with colleagues, in a working environment, and friends, in a personal environment through all of the social networking platforms offered on the internet and also through the increasing number of work orientated collaboration tools. In the project world ambient awareness is about being able to keep in touch with your co-project team resources around the world (and perhaps others outside of the project itself) with a level of regularity and detail (and honesty in many cases) that wouldn’t normally be feasible. It is about gaining insight, understanding and making decisions in a timely and effective way, and therefore the social project manager gains much from nurturing such ambient awareness.

Social Tip Number 5 – Even in the social world ‘communication’ has to be right

Communication, communication, communication – things change but they also stay the same for project managers it seems.

To become or to remain an effective (and therefore successful) project manager the optimization of communication is key – the new social tools need to become your project tools and not to become a burden that actually impacts communication in a negative way.

Don’t let the tools dictate your communication behaviour but rather identify and use the tools in the most optimum way for your and your social project team.

The key here is that there is so much potential in the ‘social’ world for a project manager but they much remain in control of the communication channels, they must understand the channels for communication and ensure that such communication meets the standards of ‘right information at the right time to the right person through the right means’. For a project manager to manage this in the modern social project world then they need to use the tools at their disposal in the most optimum way and don’t let the tools dictate your communication behaviour.

Social Tip Number 6 – Be open to being ‘open’

Avoid the bad practice of channeling as much communication as possible through yourself as a project manager, thereby creating a bottleneck for decision making and an unnecessary burden.

The social project manager is a sharing and team involvement encouraging creature creating a communication flow with appropriate delegated decision making in order to allow the project to progress smoothly and quickly.

The key here is that a project manager must not in any way become a bottleneck to project communication nor do they need to be the gatekeeper for all communication, that would be madness and unsustainable. Instead they should understand the tools and communication channels open to them and their team, guide the team on what and how they should use to communicate in an optimum way, and lead by example. That said they must also allow the project communication to flow in order to maximise the benefit of using these tools for the greater good of the project.

Social Tip Number 7 – Do not be the gatekeeper

The realisation that informal conversation has just as much value as formal announcements is a critical one for the social project manager to understand because it connects real people with real interests and needs. It's vital to project management because it builds team morale and generates innovative ideas.

The social project manager, more than a traditional project manager, has the opportunity to invite open comment and suggestions for improvements from a wider team community.

The key here is linked to the previous tip in that a project manager must allow the project communication to flow in order to maximise the benefit of using these social collaborative tools for the greater good of the project. And part of this flow and openness is giving the opportunity to your project team for open comment and offering up suggestions to you and their peers for improvements without the fear of loss of face or loss of control on your part.

Social Tip Number 8 – Encourage all 3 levels of team interaction and contribution

The social project manager will appreciate that social communication operates and exists at three levels, all interacting with each other and crossing boundaries – social means fewer boundaries after all – these are:
  • Social around the project
  • Social about the project
  • Social within the project
Encouragement of all three levels of team interaction and contribution is the path to the most effective socialisation of a project.

Social communication is vital to the success of a team and its project and the social project manager must be the central hub and protector of this flow of information.

The key here is to understand that there is no threat, no loss of ‘management control, by allowing these three levels of interactive communication to take place. There is only benefit in doing so. Rather the active encouragement of all three levels of such team interaction and contribution is the true path to the most effective socialisation of a project, and of course success. You, as the project manager, must be at the heart of this, not as a blockage or governor but as a conduit and facilitator.

Social Tip Number 9 - Know your own strengths and weaknesses

Yes, know your own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to social project management and communication.

Be honest here, you may just not have the experience or the understanding of where and how to start, so don’t be afraid of working with someone else who does.

Social Tip Number 10 – Be ‘Lazy’ (of course)

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