What makes a great project manager?

Companies typically dedicate a lot of resources towards finding new clients and revenue generating projects. However, an equal amount of resources should also be directed towards finding the right project manager (PM). Each new project will come with numerous unique challenges and your project manager needs to have the skills, diplomacy and talents needed to tackle those challenges. Project managers provide companies with value by keeping projects large and small on time, on budget and in scope. They basically ensure everything goes according to plan. When you hire a great project manager, you can rest assured that the project will be completed on time, within budget and according to your specifications.

To learn more, checkout the infographic below created by Brandeis University’s Masters in Project Management Online.

What makes a great project manager?

Responsibilities of a Project Manager

PMs, as the name suggests, are tasked with managing every aspect of a project by creating a roadmap and keeping all the cars on the track. They also make sure that everyone is moving towards a common goal. Project managers also keep track of obstacles to help the team learn from their mistakes. They also manage risks by having contingencies in place to deal with the unexpected. A contingency, or backup plan, ensures that the end goal is met on time even when there is a major problem.

Top 10 Qualities of a Great Project Manager

Inspire a Shared Vision: For a project to work, team members must have shared vision of where the project is going and the project manager must be able to inspire members of the team towards achieving that goal. When team members have a clear understanding of the vision and goals of the project, they can do their work more effectively.

Effective Communicators: A great project manager must be able to effectively communicate project goals, performance expectations and feedback. As you may already know, communication is the key to success in any business or project. Without it, a project may go in the wrong direction or go behind schedule. For this reason, the project manager needs to have regular meetings with the team and keep them up to date with the progress of the project, whether it’s ahead, behind or on schedule.

High Integrity: Certified project managers are governed by a Code of Ethics that ensures that a project is being conducted with the utmost fairness, honesty and respect.

Enthusiastic: Great PMs are committed to the end goals and believe a project can succeed no matter the obstacles. Genuine enthusiasm is infectious, so it will soon be passed on to team members and keep them motivated about attaining their individual goals.

Empathetic: This is the ability to identify and understand another person’s situations, motives and feelings – to put yourself in another person’s shoes. In this case, a project manager should be able to put themselves in the shoes of members of the team implementing the project. This will help a great deal in the decision-making process.

Competent: A project manager must have a great understanding of the technical aspects of a project in order to identify any potential risks.

Effectively Delegate Tasks: Great PMs recognize their own limitations and rely on trusted team members to successfully accomplish specific tasks. They usually surround themselves with people who are competent in areas they are not proficient in. This is what makes up a great project management team.

Cool Under Pressure: A great PM must be able to anticipate problems and have contingencies in place to address them quickly and get the team back on track. When everyone around them is panicking, they should be able to keep their cool, analyze the problem and make the right decision.

Promote Team Building: A PM must have the ability to inspire a sense of unity among team members and help put differences aside. This may require scheduling of team-building activities after work, on weekends or after successful implementation of a given project

Great Problem Solvers: Great PMs recognize that they don’t have the skills to solve every problem, but they know how to leverage the knowledge of team members and stakeholders. This means that they can get solutions for a wide range of problems, including those that are not in their forte.

Tips from Experienced Project Managers

The most successful project managers are those who are willing to learn from others. Samit Shah, co-founder of Event Edge, once said that in technology, projects do not always follow specifications exactly. To save time and avoid pain points, project managers should build in extra time for specification changes and requests, and they will be thankful they did so.

Steve Baker, an Oil and Gas Senior Project Manager, emphasizes the need for project managers to remember that one of their main roles is that of a communicator and at times, they may need to deliver bad news. He urged project managers to always be brave enough to deliver the message even when it is not received well.

Aarathi Villivallam, a project manager for Unisys, emphasizes the need to learn effective people management. She said that people management is important as the human variable affects each area of project management. Aarathi urged project managers to get training in the areas of conflict management, delegation, motivation, time management and performance management. While most managers have undergone training on these areas, attending project management workshops spearheaded by industry leaders is highly recommended. Besides, these events are usually great for networking.

Michael Kaplan, project manager at PNC Bank, urged project managers to use their knowledge and abilities to help other members of their team to develop their project management skills. Instead of concentrating on only the day to day activities, project managers should spend time focusing on the bigger picture.

These are useful tips from experienced project managers who have successfully handled major projects in their respective careers. Project managers should also consider reading about other successful PMs in their respective industries to get more tips. By following these tips, project managers can improve their management skills and produce the desired results for their employer, team members and all other stakeholders.

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