What It Takes to Be a Project Manager

August 24, 2017

First of all, let’s define the position of a manager:

It is a person with the overall responsibility for the successful initiation, planning, execution, controlling and closure of a project, activity or operation.

Not an easy task, you must agree.

Even though management is a part of every industry, in all their diversities, each line of work has something in common with each other – it requires a planned and extremely organized approach.

But first, let us not forget that every job activity is basically about people working on it. People create teams and teams are the very heart of the operational success.

So, one of the most valuables skills a good manager must possess is the ability to be a good communicator. Especially when the team is numerous and distributed across multiple locations. Just a few years back, this task was one of the hardest due to the lack of appropriate tools for it.

The first step in providing a quality communication and a successful task execution is creating a team made out of compatible professionals.

WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A GOOD PROJECT MANAGER

Once that a team is chosen, it’s time for some serious work. This is a time when manager’s leadership skills are put to the test. Any manager in the world will agree on the fact that motivating employees and fine-tuning team performance can be hard, frustrating and exhausting. But, if you’ve done the first part right (choosing the members of a team) this won’t be such a problem. What one needs for this is a bit of good decision making to help define the activities tracks, good negotiation skills for the case of differences of opinion between team members, some empathy just to earn team support and a lot of enthusiasm about the job, as enthusiasm is contagious and very much needed!

Another skill that paves the way to the successfully executed project or continuous operation under the supervision of its manager is definitely his ability to set a clear vision – he needs to have a clear picture of the direction in which a team is headed, taking care of any obstacle that could deter them from achieving his goals. In order to do so, a manager should be the prime repository of all information.

If we were living in some kind of a perfect world, a need for external tools would be minimal or even non-existing: all operations and projects would be executed on time, on budget and with no unexpected obstacles to overcome. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Business does create problems, and managers must be able to develop an attitude where all obstacles are considered a challenge and the opportunity to learn something while overcoming it. Another useful skill that might help in hard times is pragmatism – one should be aware at all times that management is more about “good enough” than it is about striving for perfection. Ambition is good, but getting of a high horse and feel the ground is sometimes even better.

Few tricks revealed by successful project and operational managers:

  1. Feel free to be creative: try out a technique called a PM for a day – It gives team members an opportunity to see how it feels to walk a mile in your shoes. By giving them a peek into your errands and responsibilities, it allows them to identify with you on a more personal level and understand better your position. Priceless for the future communication!
  2. Job rotation: One’s rich experience on one sort of tasks is a great thing when an expert praxis is needed, but for a team to perform as one is even more important to create as many of Jacks of all trades (however, in this case, a Master of one) as you can. Rotating assignments among the team members and training them up in other people’s tasks is extremely fertile ground for motivation and later improvisation in the case when one team member becomes unavailable. As Albert Einstein once said: Play is the highest form of research. And, he should know!

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