Communication is the bedrock of any successful enterprise. It doesn’t matter if it’s a new business venture, artistic endeavor, or merely organizing a party: if there isn’t good communication, the project will more than likely fail.
The first, and most obvious step, is that goals and expectations down to the last detail need to be shared and understood by everyone involved. But oftentimes they are not. This is especially true these days when you can have people from different countries collaborating online, working in different time zones and in different disciplines, from web and graphic designers to copywriters to marketing folks.
Without a clear channel open between all involved, things will slip through the cracks. Deadlines will be missed. Projects will run long. Costs will go up.
And the more people who are working on a project, the harder it is to have a successful outcome. All too often, in an attempt to be democratic, collaborative groups won’t appoint a true leader and instead make decisions jointly. Or at least they try to make decisions. Then they get bogged down in endless phone meetings and debates through email. Too many cooks in the kitchen, so to speak.
In short, bad things will happen when there isn’t a facilitator involved whose job it is to make these goals and expectations clear. The solution, of course, is to have someone be the leader. But it can’t be somebody from the group – unless it’s a supervisor or boss. It should be someone impartial, with no role in the creation of the project itself other than to help your group come out the other end in one piece. And that’s where you come in.
I’m talking about how you can become a project coach and oversee projects from start to finish. It’s an incredibly rewarding job and you can do it all from home… and make serious money.
As a project coach, you’re responsible for keeping projects moving along.
Your main job is to facilitate communication between all participants in the group. This means setting up channels of, well, communication, attending all meetings, and taking minutes. Team members should know that if they’re having trouble receiving files, they should come to you.
If team members are unclear about what’s expected of them, they should ask you. Remember, you’re essentially a non-biased intermediary. If there’s conflict between the team members, you help to smooth it over.
In this day and age, when virtual collaboration is more and more a reality, transmitting files is a huge part of working on a project. As a project coach, it will be your job to set up how these files are transmitted. This can be through email, over the web, or even by courier, if there are large physical materials your team is working with.
You should keep a log of whenever files are moved and make sure deadlines are clear and understood. If someone thinks they will not have enough time, make sure you know about it so you can communicate that information to the rest of the team.
And in general, you should be making sure everybody is doing what they’re supposed to and everything else you need to do to make sure a project is completed on schedule
Here are a few items I suggest you keep as a Project Coach:
* A list of the detailed goals for this project
* A schedule outlining deadlines
* A log of when and where files are being moved
* A contact sheet of all the team members (email address, phone number)
* A milestone date for when deliverables should be ready
* A financial budget for each step of the project, including fees paid for materials and freelance work
If you keep these things updated and current, you’ll have a nice overview of the entire project. Trust me, it will make your job much easier. And this checklist works well with any type of project.
Finding Work as a Project Coach
The great thing about being a project coach is that you can literally work in any industry. The skills you will develop are not specific to the hospitality industry, for example, or the aeronautic industry or any other industry. This means that it is very easy to find work as a project coach. Lawyers, architects, even doctors and teachers are beginning to see the value of having a project coach involved in a project.
Ecommerce businesses and Internet entrepreneurs are also great clients to have because their teams are usually all online, which makes managing several teams at once a snap.
You could be helping an online business set up a new shopping cart on their website. Or you could oversee the development of a new customer service training program at a car dealership. There really is no limit to the types of businesses you can help as a project coach.
As with anything, it’s best to start with a small project to coach, especially if you’re new to this.
Like with many similar opportunities, reaching out to your personal and business network is a great way to get things started. Think about any people you know who could use the services of a project coach. Post a message on your Facebook wall announcing your availability for project coaching.
You never know when a friend or a friend of a friend might be able to use your services.
You should also be networking relentlessly on LinkedIn, the business networking site. Get active in groups dedicated to niches you’re interested in. Don’t “sell” your services right away. Get to know people first. But then casually mention your expertise.
You can also find openings online easily. Try searching sites like www.eLance.com or GlassDoor.com for teams looking for a project coach. “Project manager” or “project coordinator” are other keywords to use.
Since this is essentially a part-time job, except for the very beginning of a project, you can actually be involved in many different projects at once.
Some clients will ask you to be paid per project. This might be okay when you’re starting out. But really you want to stick with an hourly rate because despite your best intentions to keep things on track, your clients can change the scope of projects. That’s fine, it’s totally up to them.
But you don’t want to be stuck doing extra work for less money. So go hourly to make sure you are fairly compensated.
If you find that you love this work and want to make it your career, there are certifications you can obtain.
One is through the Project Management Institute (PMI). This is an internationally recognized certification that will allow you to get work in literally any industry you choose. It costs about $500 to sit for the test, but once you get your PMI certification, you’ll have your pick of jobs.
The certification from the International Institute of Project Coaching is a bit more affordable but prestigious as well.
Those logos look pretty good on a business card. Or you can start your own business as a project coach. It’s a great return on your investment.
I wish you the best of luck!
P.S. I’ve just given you the tips you need to become a great project coach. But here are a few more resources to help you score the jobs you’ve always dreamed of.
Project Coaching Tips