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7 Habits of an Effective Project Manager
By Jacqui Hogan

Using an effective methodology is important to the successful completion of a project, but the personal approach used by the Project Manager is also vitally important.

These are loosely based on the 7 habits for personal effectiveness defined by Steven Covey back in the 1970s, which are as relevant today as they were then.

Effective Project Managers:

  1. Are Proactive. Effective Project Managers don’t wait for change to happen to them, they anticipate and act to exploit the change or mitigate the effects rather than waiting and reacting. They focus only on those things they can change or influence, and not on those they can’t.
  2. Define clear goals. All project managers define goals, but effective project managers make sure these are defined clearly and that they understand them unambiguously at every level. They make sure they don’t just understand the words, but the meaning and impact of the goals and what the results should be for the business.

  3. Understand the real priorities. Effective Project Managers spend time and effort to understand what the real business priorities are and design the plan accordingly. Is time or budget more important? Is it to deliver the goals at any cost? Is it to deliver small improvements throughout the project?

  4. Aim for a win-win. Effective Project Managers seek not just to deliver the defined objectives at any cost, but to gain the maximum benefit to all involved. They are also realistic enough to identify where this isn’t possible and, if necessary, walk away. When working with their team, they seek to reward win/win behavior and avoid rewarding win/lose behavior.

  5. Are adaptable. Many projects fail because the Project Manager cannot flex their plans to account for changing business priorities. Effective project managers listen to the business, ask questions to clarify whether the changes are business driven and then agree the impact accordingly. Effective Project Managers spend time walking in the businesses shoes.

  6. Nuture their team. Effective Project Managers seek to understand the motivation and skills of every individual in their team. They create teams that make the most of these individuals and create an atmosphere of mutual trust and understanding. They create a project team that is greater than the individuals in that team.

  7. Review and Learn. No project is 100% perfect, so there is always something to be learned. Effective Project Managers take time at key stages and at the end of the project to review what went well and what could be improved going forward without assigning blame. They know that assigning blame kills motivation and shuts down the improvement process.

Jacqui Hogan, MBA has been mentoring SME business managers/owners to achieve their goals as an independent mentor since 2003. Prior to that she worked in senior management and leadership roles for a variety of technical and other organizations. She is currently the CEO of cocreative.

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