7 Essential qualities of a great project manager
15 Mar 2017
15 Mar, 2017

Before we start, let’s make one point crystal clear, so self-doubts and false assumptions are put aside - people are not born as leaders. They become great leaders through experience, practice, motivation and persistence. This means, anyone can become a good leader, not everyone will, though.

 

When it comes to project management, this role should be approached with all due respect and seriousness. Apart from good leadership skills, it also requires effective communication, a problem solving and visionary mindset, pro-activeness, hard work, patience and a good amount of personal charisma, integrity, motivation, and interpersonal skills. Not as easy as you would have thought, right?

 

If you were thinking of applying for a Project Manager position, or just got promoted to one - don’t freak out. You probably already have most of the essential skills and characteristics to perform well at this job. If not, are you willing to learn and get the ball rolling?
 

Competence & Homework
 

A good project manager knows the market, the client, the competitors as well as has a clear understanding of the project and desired results. Ideally, it’s your field of expertise, so you're capable of handling the technical questions and issues. If it’s a fairly new topic, the project manager must research thoroughly the subject before diving into planning and building any strategies. Analyze the industry, its best practices, and peculiarities. The team must be certain that the project manager knows exactly what needs to be done. Keep in mind, that you don’t have to be a technical expert in everything, but understanding what’s happening and why it is happening is crucial for a process based on trust and respect.

 

Note: A good leader and project manager won’t be ashamed to admit that he/she doesn’t have expertise on a certain task, but rather use this opportunity to make his/her team members feel valuable and indispensable for the team.
 

Visions, Planning & Strategies
 

A project manager is there to see the bigger picture, the entire puzzle (even when you haven’t started building one yet). They are the ones with the vision, and ability to communicate it clearly and accurately. Avoid micromanagement and getting caught up in small tasks and to-dos. You’re the one who plans all the details, builds a strategy and makes sure all team members maintain that strategic direction.

 

Analyze what needs to be done, what are the client’s expectations, whether the promised results by the sales department are feasible, are the milestones broken down correctly and if you have all the necessary resources and tools to accomplish this tasks. Performing an in-depth analysis and planning ahead all the details will help you ensure a smooth and transparent process for both your team and your client.
 

Know Your Team
 

After you’ve done your research and have put together a brilliant strategy for your project, it’s time to divide and delegate tasks and responsibilities. You MUST, I repeat you must know your team and understand the expertise and capabilities of each person. This will not only provide you with the confidence that each task is performed in its best possible way but will also guarantee you a happy, motivated, inspired and hard-working team. You see, we’re all human beings and need to feel value in all the things we do, otherwise, it’s just wasted time and unappreciated effort and energy. Take time to understand your team, their personal goals, values, and weak spots, acknowledge good performance, give credits and always try to show them that all their work matters.
 

Communication is King
 

The number one problem in most organizations and failed projects is the lack of proper communication. Don’t forget, all relationships are built on communication. If you want a group of people to follow you and help you achieve a goal according to a certain standard and timeline - be prepared to effectively deliver that message to them (goals, methods, process, deadlines and client expectations). Also, don’t forget that you’re the one linking your team to the other side of the equation - the client or upper management. Be prepared to deliver bad news sometimes, push deadlines and explain why you need more time or resources. Can you handle all those difficult conversations? And do you understand the difference between emails, reports, phone calls and face-to-face meetings? As each type of communication channel has its own appropriate situation.

 

There’s no single rule, you can have weekly meetings, opt for various project management software, but sure the communication is clear, open and regular.
 

Lead & Inspire
 

A successful process is built on trust, and trust is earned gradually. Make sure you set a good example for your team and clients. Don’t make promises you wouldn’t be able to follow up through, don’t lie, look for excuses or blame others, don’t gossip or act mean and disrespectful towards your team. Always be kind, and put yourself in their shoes. Be proactive and think 3 steps ahead. Do the tasks no one else even thought of doing. Anticipate the bumps on the road and challenges, and come up with solutions before the problems arise. Inspire your team through hard-work and persistence, and pleasantly surprise your clients with successfully delivered projects and results.
 

Diplomacy and Promoting Collaboration
 

Problems, challenges, and conflicts within the team will arise. They always do. Let’s say, your designer has poured his heart and soul into this project, however, the development department cut off many elements and features due to their complexity or timing priorities. Obviously, your designer feels offended, demotivated and angry. Your job is to mediate this situation, but not by getting emotionally involved and taking sides. You have to listen to both parties, decide on what’s best for the overall process and project, and then in a calm and positive way explain and bring perspective to both parties of why certain things need to be done. For example, the same applies for meetings with clients when terms and deadlines change. Don’t blame your team, focus on offering constructive solutions and methodology for the new agreement.
 

Enthusiasm & Optimism
 

And last, but not least - you must be passionate and enthusiastic about the project. If you aren’t, how can you expect your team to be? Show your team that you believe in their abilities and are excited about the goals and process. Be contagious with your energy, optimism, and encouragement! They need to feel that their time and effort is worthwhile and look forward to each new day and task. Trust me, as cliche as this sounds - it works every single time!
 


See? it’s not rocket science! And if you put enough heart and dedication to it - you could become an amazing leader, project manager, and friend to your team and clients. Master these 7 skills and qualities, and work will become a whole lot more fun and enjoyable!
 

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