Wednesday, 04 February 2015 08:45

Time to Dust off the Project Manager Job Description

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In my role I set strategy, recruit, oversee development, handle the budgets, deal with staff problems, chair meetings, take minutes and make the coffee. In fact, that list doesn’t even begin to touch on the variety of tasks I find myself doing every day as a CEO. It’s just as well that I don’t have a job description because if I did it would be very, very long.

Ask to see a copy of a job description for the project managers in your team and you’ll probably be handed a dusty document. Dusty? Of course. No one in project management does what it says on their job description any longer. If we all stuck to that then I doubt we’d ever complete any projects at all.

The reality is that while ticking the boxes on the job description might get you a job as a project manager, when you’re in the job it’s suddenly very different.

Project work is not routine

Projects are non-routine work, and non-routine work involves people having to think. You won’t see ‘thinking’ on any job description, but it’s what you are paid to do for a large portion of your time at work.
When you start work on a project there’s the thinking that comes with project initiation. There are some technical project management skills that we all have to have to do a good job. But a good project manager needs to go beyond that, and spend time thinking about how to get things done through other people. That requires leadership - and that’s a skill that might appear on your job description. What will be missing from that dusty document is that getting things done through others means trusting the people on your project team to do the right thing.

You won’t find ‘trusting’ on any job descriptions either.

Working beyond the job description

So if a project manager has to go beyond the job description to get things done, what is their role in business and how do we describe the critical function that they play in delivering business results?

Look through the recruitment pages of any newspaper or search online and you’ll find a huge variety of requirements (and titles) for people doing project work. There will be qualifications, soft skills and the ability to use specific software tools. You’ll see the need to travel, or be home-based, or work with third parties. Recruiters look for people who can work as a team, independently, with end users and Board members. 

But what they are really saying is that they are looking for someone who can get things done.

That’s a very short job description.

Let’s celebrate the doers!

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Jason Westland

CEO ProjectManager.com

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