10 Features of a Perfect Project Manager
By Monica Wells
In today’s competitive and ruthless business environment, it is often believed that continuous progress is essential to the company’s success. Having a clear vision as to where the company is heading requires a series of carefully implemented projects aimed at moving the company towards the ultimate goal, while at the same time leaving the competition standing. But behind every successful project lays a dedicated team, guided by experts who know which strings to pull, and which buttons to push. Today, there is a plethora of resources and guides indicating which factors contribute to successful project management. Even though a final recipe for a perfect project manager might still be missing, we have selected 10 key ingredients which are believed to distinguish outstanding project leaders.
Arguably, the key word characterizing a perfect project manager is vision. Of course, successful implementation of a project requires concentration on both the short, and the long term goals, but a good visionary can see the big picture. Consequently, he/she has the ability to develop a strategy, namely a plan of action for the whole team. This includes planning ahead, establishing a set of effective tools and methods, as well as trouble shooting and problem solving. In short, a successful project manager knows how to navigate the team towards the goal, while at the same time avoiding the rocks, and maintaining the focus when the road gets bumpy.
To put it in plain words, good project managers need to know what they are doing. But while knowledge of the industry is indeed important, what is perhaps more vital is the ability to draw conclusions from one’s actions. Good managers are both book smart and street smart, and use their experience as a learning curve in deciding on what works and what does not. As a result, competent managers develop to be flexible, and can easily adapt to changing circumstances.
As Benjamin Franklin once said, time is money. And it definitely is so in business. Perfect project managers know this too. To remain respectful of the team’s time and effort, good organization is crucial. Organization skills enable project managers to orchestrate the team so that tasks are accomplished ahead of deadlines. But of course, easier said than done! Well, good organizers know how to prioritize and multitask. Using their experience, they have the ability to juggle things simultaneously, assessing the time frame of each task, no matter how minute, while keeping the final target in sight.
Just as in life, also in business things do not always go according to plan. When things get rough, good project managers do not panic. They choose to stay calm, assess the options, and come up with alternatives. Many will realize that a dose of humor in times of adversity can also do wonders. And while resilient managers are able to project control in times of crisis, they are also not afraid to ask for help. They understand that two (or more!) heads are often better than one!
By definition, business managers are responsible for the successful implementation of the project. But what does being responsible actually involve? To many, responsibility is synonymous with caring. Caring how one’s decisions might affect other people, the project, and the company. Whereas taking risk is part and parcel of project coordination, responsible managers will calculate the potential gains and losses before they take action. And if things go wrong, they accept to shoulder the blame for the team.
Nobody likes to work with a wet blanket. To think that you could be managed by one! No. A perfect project manager knows how to keep the sparks flying. They have a natural ability to keep the team motivated, they radiate energy, and maintain positive approach throughout the project. It is often assumed that a good manager is a people person. Enthusiasm towards work reflects just that. And while maintaining excessive levels of energy is not always possible, a positive approach will always help you go a long way.
Successful project management requires team effort. This point cannot be underestimated. Effective communication is the only way to maintain cohesion, effectiveness, and good spirit of the team. A good communicator has the ability to persuade, encourage, provide feedback, criticize constructively. In addition, by being good listeners, successful project managers utilize the potential of the team by recognizing their abilities and capabilities. This in turn ensures that individual efforts are acknowledged, leaving the team appreciated, satisfied, and continuously motivated.
It goes without saying. A good project manager equals a great leader. While it is not easy to unpack the term, good leading is all about being in charge without letting one’s ego get in the way. Great leaders set high expectations, but appreciate the efforts. They delegate without bossing around. They are confident, but not arrogant. Most importantly though, they lead by example. Be a good role model yourself, and people will follow.
We mentioned the vision. But in today’s business reality, vision goes hand in hand with innovation. Effective project managers must seek novelty at all times. Innovation means new solutions to old problems, investing in new technology, and maintaining a fresh perspective. Why? To remain on top! As the market becomes more and more competitive, managers who adopt an innovative and creative approach find ways to reduce costs, develop new ways of increasing the team’s performance and effectiveness, while maintaining their enthusiasm for the job.
Finally, a perfect project manager knows how to cherish the final outcome. Saying ‘thank you’ to the team is a vital end point to any project management process. Not only does overt celebration of success reflects your appreciation of the team, but it also maintains their motivation levels sufficient enough to keep the good work going in the future.
Monica Wells runs BizDB. She is an experienced educator and businesswoman. With a strong background in Internet Science and New Technologies combined with huge IT expertise she lectures on leveraging the potential of the World Wide Web for business success.