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Author: Helen Sabell

Career Corner: Attributes Of An Exceptional Project Manager

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.

Career Corner: 10 Must Have Skills for a Project Manager

You may be entering the job market, either for the first time or to make an exciting new career change or looking to learn project management online. If you are looking to enter a career in project management, you will probably be wondering how to make your project manager CV stand out.

As project managers, you have to maintain a view of the “big picture” and guide the project to success, whilst handling the day-to-day tasks, and dealing with any crises that may arise. So, what are the most important qualities of an effective project manager?

1.     Business Strategy

A career in project management requires you to not only be responsive to change, you need to see it coming. Project management is a fast paced business and is constantly shifting to the markets demands. Project managers will need to understand business strategy so they can anticipate market changes and be prepared when they strike.

2.     Risk Assessment and Management

During this economic climate, businesses cannot afford to make any unnecessary risks or suffer project failure. You must have the ability to positively calculate an adequate amount of risk, as well as assess and manage threats, and also opportunities to your projects to achieve the best outcome in the quickest amount of time.

3.     Conflict Management

Conflict management is tough and can be brutal, it is not enjoyable for anyone involved. People will always get into disagreements on projects, and this needs to be resolved. Conflict management is about understanding the disagreement, setting up meetings to discuss each side’s viewpoints and both sides agreeing to a solution that can allow the project to progress.

Related article: The Project Manager Skills Gap

4.     Resource Management

As companies handle increasingly complicated markets, their business strategies and the projects to implement them are becoming much larger and more complex. Complex projects usually mean larger teams to manage, more resources to coordinate and more stakeholders to please.

5.     Time Management

As a project manager, you are probably handling numerous tasks and situations at any given time. Your time management and your ability to organise yourself and other are critically important. Time management is more than allocating a certain amount of time to certain jobs. You must be able to analyse what you are spending your time on and how important those tasks are to successfully completing the project. Your primary role is to do the strategic planning, overall monitoring and be creative and innovative at solving problems.

6.     Highly Organised And A Good Multi-Tasker

A good project manager knows how to manage multiple projects or tasks and record and solve issues on a day to day basis. One of the main differences between the success or failure of a project is usually the difference between a project manager who is highly organised and one who is not. Project management is all about the details. You must be highly conscientious about managing every detail of every project and also the possible impacts each detail may have on the overall success of the project. Remember it is even the little details that can make or break a project.

7.     A Natural Leader

It is crucial for project managers to be great leaders. Project management requires leading stakeholders and clients to a successful result. Effective project managers aspire and motivate towards a better tomorrow and inspire confidence in their team’s abilities to realise and withhold that vision. A great project manager is often described as having a vision of where to go and the ability to articulate it. Good visionary leaders allow people to feel they have a real stake in the project, they empower people to experience the vision on their own. It is also essential to build relationships with key clients to ensure alignment to the project’s targets and radiate the confidence necessary to hold everyone participating in the project responsible.

8.     Enthusiasm

No one likes a leader who is negative, they bring themselves and everyone around them down. People want leaders who are enthusiastic with a can-do attitude. People tend to follow people with a positive attitude. Enthusiastic leaders are committed to their goals and express this through optimism. Good leaderships develops as someone expresses confident and commitment to a project that others want to share this optimistic expectation. Enthusiasm is contagious.

9.     Communication

Communication skills are one of the most crucial skills every project manager should have. You may possess other skills that will help make you a great project managers but these are useless if you cannot communicate well with your stakeholders and team members. You will be needed to schedule meetings to resolve any issues, delegate risks and problems to relevant individuals once they occur, update senior management on project progress and listen to and understand your stakeholders and team members. Ensure all stakeholders understand what is expected of them throughout the project, and that they communicate effectively with one another as well as yourself. Project managers need to communicate status changes, good news and bad news to all staff and senior management. For instance, a slight scheduling delay may only need to be communicated to internal teams but not to the client if it does not affect the client’s review dates.

10.  Problem-Solving and Technical Skills

Inevitably, there will be times when problems and obstacles may arise that will require immediate attention and solutions. How a project manager handles these particular situations will determine their success and make them stand out from the rest. A good project manager needs to have a solid knowledge of software, platforms and programmes that your company regularly work with. This allows you to be able to understand areas of the project and able to assign themselves some tasks. By assigning yourself tasks and successfully completing those tasks on time will help you gain the respect you require to successfully manage a team. 

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