8 Characteristics Of A Successful Project ManagerReading Time: 5 minutes
Role Of A Project Manager
Let us first clearly understand the role of a project manager in an organization.
The project manager has three concurrent responsibilities.
1. Achieve project objectives and manages constraints
Project managers are accountable for achieving the requirements of the project definition. That means managing to the Project Objective Statement (Scope, Schedule, Resources) and making trade offs among constraints to achieve project objectives.
- Project advocate
- Procure needed resources
- Manages the project
Every project or program is bound by three main constraints – Scope, Schedule, and Resources. This typically is referred to as the “Iron Triangle” of constraints in that changes to one side of the triangle will have impacts on the other two sides. The PM is responsible for balancing constraints effectively to optimize the delivery of project results against the aligned scope of work and the agreement with the sponsor and stakeholders. This topic is covered in detail in the list of project management skills.
2. Establish and lead the team
The project manager needs to identify, select, and manage the project team. The project is successful only if the manager is able to lead the team to success.
- Leads the team
- Communicates well
- Works with people
- Recognize and rewards
- Provides performance feedback
- Cross-organizational & cross -cultural orientation
- Extremely flexible
3. Manage the Project Management Process
The project management process is the structure that allows the project team to achieve the project objectives.
8 Characteristics Of A Successful Project Manager
Now let us see what makes a successful project manager. There are some unique skills one needs to make it big here. You will not find these in typical project management books and resources. These are coming out of our long years of experience in setting up and leading teams.
1. See the “big picture” and Pay attention to detail.
One of the most telling characteristics of successful project managers is that they can see the big picture while paying attention to detail. This is a duality that many people have difficulty maintaining. Project managers must constantly balance the big picture and the details.
we have seen project managers fail because they are too focused on the detail at hand and have no insight into what to expect. A manager must be able to expect, envision and plan for the future constantly wile driving the day to day tasks.
2. Skillful in relationships.
The role of the project manager requires relationships with countless people: the sponsors and other managers, the core team and project team, the customers and users, vendors and suppliers, and potentially many others. The dilemma for the project manager is when to be firm and when to be soft. The person, the situation, the time, all impact the decision. Again, the project manager is held accountable for results, but realizes the results of the project are dependent upon the efforts of others.
We have seen project managers struggle as they tend not to move out of their comfort zones and build strong win-win connects. As we talked about it in the article on effective team management the manager must focus less on themselves and more on others to be successful.He/she must be authentic in the dealings and look at providing value in the relationship.
3. Maintain firmness while being flexible
Another duality for the project manager is maintaining firmness in the face of constant change. Projects are controlled by deadlines, budgets, and quality which cannot be taken lightly. The project manager is held accountable for bringing the project to completion on time, within budget, and meeting the requirements. At the same time the manager is faced with great uncertainty and constant change. Changes come in the form of situations, conflict, people, project scope and budget and business priorities. Conflict Management is a skill managers must be adept at.
We have seen successful project managers are able to balance firmness with flexibility. They have to make calculated decisions based on the risk and outcome. This judgment also develops over time and always make sure you have a good mentor who can help you through this.
4. Lead people.
The work will be successfully completed only if the team members choose to make it so. Most often all the teams that a manager has to work with may not formally report to the project manager. Good team leadership requires patience, influence, negotiation, recognition and reward, and a host of other characteristics.
we talk about this topic in detail in the team management article. Make sure you have read it.
5. Communicate effectively.
The most important characteristic the project manager can have is excellent communication skills. The manager needs to be able to communicate with a wide variety of audience in a variety of forums. Perhaps the most important communication skill is listening and really understanding what others are saying. Understanding is the first step in being able to flexibly meet the challenges of the changing project.
We have seen managers struggle as they do not hone their written and verbal communication skills and do not listen enough. It is important to balance proactive communication with too much communication.
6. Willing to challenge barriers and obstacles.
The project manager must be willing to challenge & willing to find the true boundaries. Part of the job of the project manager is to remove internal and external obstacles for the project. The manager has to strike a balance between motivating and nurturing his team to meet the goals while at the same time he strives to remove all the obstacles in the path of meeting those goals.
We have seen in our experience that new managers tend to get intimidated by obstacles. Again a good mentor will be very helpful at these stages. The manager must build the courage and wherewithal to make bold decisions that will result in the project success.
7. Understand the project management process.
A successful project manager understands the process of project management and is proficient with the tools that support the process. The manager must spend the time and effort to skill and train himself /herself in all the aspects of project management.
Project managers must use tools that will improve the team productivity and must be adept at time management
8. Committed to the project’s success.
The project manager must be personally committed to the success of the project. Without that commitment, the team will not be committed either. Project leadership is based on leading by example.
We have various topics on Leadership development. Be sure to look them up to build the needed leadership to shepherd your teams to success
So now you should have a clear understanding of the role of a project manager and you know the expectations and successful traits. Do spend time to train yourself and take courses outside your organization to help build your skills.
If you have specific questions and/or you are seeking guidance on a management problem or you want to find resources on a certain topic you can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org