Monday, 05 October 2015 08:00

Career Corner: Attributes Of An Exceptional Project Manager

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The most successful project managers are those who can persistently deliver on time and within budget, with projects that match or exceed stakeholders’ expectations and who can effectively oversee a project from beginning to end. They are highly skilled leaders who can bring together all the stakeholders in the project and lead the team to completion of their goals. They understand that leadership and people skills are even more important to good project management than any other attribute.

The more experienced project managers also know that if you don’t understand the stakeholders side of project management, it doesn’t matter how good your methodology or your resources are. If you aren’t managing stakeholders correctly, you may deliver on budget but may not meet the client’s needs, leaving them dissatisfied.

Here are some things a project manager can do in order to be exceptional.

Set A Clear Vision

A great project manager can anticipate and intercept problems that could jeopardise deadlines, budgets, and the overall acceptance of the project. In spite of all difficulties they may face, project managers need to have a clear vision of the direction in which they are heading. They should commit to this vision and try to explore the ways of achieving it. Their frame of mind should consider any potential obstacles that could deter them from achieving their goals.

Related Article: Top Ten Must-Have Skills for a Project Manager

Be Organized

Organization is a key characteristic of a great project manager along with excellent time management skills. Organization can be displayed in various ways, for instance, the ability to stay focused on the big picture and to prioritize competing responsibilities. There are numerous aspects and tasks in most projects that have to be completed, and it is crucial to stay on top and in control of everything at all times. Prioritizing work for their team is a critical aspect of what a project manager has to do!

Be Honest and Reliable

Honesty and reliability are essential traits for a project manager. It is critical that the manager means what they say. If the project manager consistently fulfils their promises and holds those accountable in a fair way, the team members will then respect the manager’s integrity and loyalty. 

Become A Natural Leader

Project managers have to influence and interact with a variety of stakeholders. Employers want project managers who can improve their team’s performance to help optimize accomplishments. They need to focus on their team’s performance to reach milestones by encouraging participation, keeping open a strong line of communication, and holding team members accountable. As many project team members do not report directly to the project manager, they have to find ways to motivate those workers where they do not have direct influence. These employees can essentially make or break a project. Project managers need to be able to inspire the confidence of stakeholders in the event the budget or timeline needs to be negotiated, or additional resources are needed. Project managers should command authority naturally and be optimistic leaders who are viewed in a favourable way. These project managers are highly valued by their company.

Be a Good Communicator 

The project manager needs to acquire the capacity to communicate a clear vision in order to increase their leadership.

It is important for project managers to have a clear vision of the project before they begin to communicate.  Otherwise they will not be able to explain themselves in a simple and understandable way. Begin by integrating all the objectives of the project - financial, professional, technical, process, strategic and tactical. It is extremely important to listen to your client and develop a plan to exceed their expectations. Successful project managers use emails, meetings, and reports to effectively communicate their ideas, get decisions made, and resolve problems. You will need to discuss your client’s project in the manner most relevant to the audience.

Understand Business Strategy

Project managers must be able to see how their projects fit into their company's strategy. This will serve them extremely well If they can expand their project management expectations into a business context. They need to look beyond the skills necessary for project management. The more context they can show, the more value they have to the company.

be Pragmatic

Good project managers focus on getting work done with the resources that are available to them.

Companies seek project managers who can meet deadlines and stick to budgets, even when things do not go to plan. It is essential for a project manager to really portray their flexibility. This is the perfect opportunity to share what obstacles they have encountered, how they have overcome them and what resources or management tools they used. There are constant changes so they must be extremely flexible. Sometimes it is common for project managers to be a little too analytical. They often over analyse before moving ahead which can slow the progress of a project.

have Enthusiasm

It is important for project managers to create an encouraging atmosphere and demonstrate on a daily basis their confidence in the team, in all its members and in their capacity for everyone involved to create a successful project.

It is a common first instinct to not trust, as the slightest error could prove fatal. However, a lack of trust will be felt by your team. You need to entrust your team and although a task may be difficult and critical, provide them with all the necessary support to succeed. We all have different styles, but it is important to trust others. 

be Empathetic

It is no surprise that project managers rely on others to be successful. Project managers cannot effectively influence others if they do not understand what motivates their stakeholders. They need to learn and understand stakeholders’ concerns and worries about a project, take those concerns seriously and address them.

Companies will continue to look for project managers who can deliver results on time and on budget. It is important to show hiring managers you can outperform other project managers to improve your chances of making a lasting impression.

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Helen Sabell

Helen Sabell works for the College for Adult Learning, she is passionate about adult and lifelong learning. She has designed, developed and authored many workplace leadership and training programs, both in Australia and overseas. Helen also works with a select group of organisations consulting in People Management & Development, Education and Change.

Comments  

0 # James Hurst 2015-10-15 09:58
The article has a good grasp of the key characteristics and skills for a successful PM, so a useful read in that respect. However, as a PM for over 15 years, the article isn't realistic. The key to success is our experience, it's what we are recruited for. Our experience includes how we learn much more from our mistakes (less successful projects) than when we're always delivering to time, budget, scope (and let's be honest here, we don't). A nice thought though :)
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