When I was a junior engineer I was part of a project where the project manager’s communication skills were so bad, people were afraid to talk to him. If at all possible, you tried to deal with issues yourself, because if the corner office had to manage something the client wasn’t likely to be pleased with the outcome.
Do you know someone like that?
Now, nobody can possess all of the skills necessary to be an outstanding project manager. Somebody has to have all the good looks and great personality. But for the rest of us, it is important to cater to your strengths and compliment your weaknesses because the required skill set is so diverse.
But if you want to become more successful as a project manager, and plastic surgery is not in the budget, find one or more of the following qualities and try to develop it further.
- Be Accountable. You might be tempted at times to blame other people. They didn’t provide the resources. They didn’t supply the facility in time. They didn’t do a good enough job. This may sound blunt but you are responsible for managing and leading people, and it is your fault. Look at it this way: If you are not accountable for a project’s failures, you are also not in a position to take the credit when it goes right.
- Understand people. Because of the varied nature of the required skill sets, managing a project requires understanding what people do, how they behave, and having the confidence to confront people when needed.
- Exert calmness throughout adversity. I can’t think of a project that went as smoothly as envisioned at the beginning. Stuff happens. Not alot ever goes to plan. When stakeholders are wondering what’s going on, project members are unhappy about something, or project sponsors are pulling the purse strings, the project manager has to keep cool.
- Always watch for potential trouble. You’ve listed the risks and categorized them (I hope). If not, just do that and you’re already a step ahead. Every day, take a moment to consider where the project is in relation to yesterday, and ask yourself if any other risks have popped up. Prepare action plans for potential risks, so you don’t have to think.
- Be passionate. Try to demonstrate a healthy passion for the project success criteria. Pretend if you have to, because your team will be that much more enthusiastic. Demonstrate that you care by doing something that has no discernable benefit to you (like doing something extra for a client).
- Stay focused. Sometimes you can lose the focus on project deliverables because of external issues. Maybe someone in your organization is trying to sabotage some part of the project. Or a team member is spending too much time partying and shows up late. These issues need to be dealt with, but the focus must remain on the deliverables.
- Be happy. There’s nothing worse than a manager who is perpetually unhappy. From being rude to making people do extra work, nobody likes a boss that can’t smile and let loose once in a while. Maybe this is holding back your potential.
- Spend more time planning. Planning is the essence of project management. Many people have the title of project manager. The most visible difference between them and trained project managers is planning. It helps manage stakeholders expectations, provides better estimates or time and/or budget, and ensures you are on top of every project issue.
Let me know in the comments if you have anything to add, or change. Or if you think I’m full of it.