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How to Be a Good Project Manager in a Bad Economy
By Erin Palmer

What makes a project manager stand out when things are tough? Typically the best project managers will employ a dozen or more individual attributes to create efficiency in managing projects. Strong leadership skills ensure that team members stay motivated. Planning and organizing skills keep projects moving forward on time and budget. Project management certification demonstrates commitment to the profession that is essential to success.

But of all the attributes of a good project manager, excellent communication skills can boost your performance most during a tough economic environment. While project management certification training will teach the core industry skills you need to function as a project manager, communication can be your key to success.

Succeeding as a Project Management Professional Takes Communication and Honesty

While economic downturns vary in duration and depth, each one causes problems and complications. Bad things happen. Customers go out of business. Contracts are slashed or cancelled, and employees are laid off. Recession brings a fear of the unknown that increases stress, which can adversely affect your team and threaten your projects. At the first sign of difficulty, a good project manager will open up the lines of communication. Welcoming questions and providing updates to team members, stakeholders, suppliers and customers will keep the project on track.

Honesty is Vital: An important aspect of a project management professional’s job is minimizing and managing risk. Effective risk management means not ignoring or hiding a potential problem, which can lead to mistrust, rumors and deteriorating morale. Rather, a good project manager meets difficult situations head-on and with honesty. Communicating the necessary facts and sharing negative information in a positive manner can go a long way toward mitigating your team’s fears – while enhancing your value to your company. Keep the focus on whatever good things are happening. Stay positive. Your project team will be motivated by their trust in you to perform at their best, in spite of any difficulties surrounding them.

Motivation is a Priority: With project management certification and training, you’ll be well qualified to lead projects that will move business forward. But there is another important aspect to becoming a project management professional: motivating teams to do their best work – even in a recession.

Motivating individuals begins with knowing their needs and personalities. Good project managers realize that what motivates one person may not mean much to another. Take the time to really know your team members by focusing on their needs. Then, do your best to meet them. A little extra appreciation and recognition of outstanding work will be particularly meaningful in tough times. And if salaries are being cut, or raises are delayed, going to bat for your team will demonstrate how much you value them. Such a gesture – even if unsuccessful – could be exactly what motivates them to put forth the extra effort you need.

Cutting Costs is Not an Option: A bad economy can make it challenging to be a good project manager. However, honing your leadership skills through project management certification training can make it easier, by providing you with tools to manage change, make decisions and gain consensus. To this end, resist using a recession as an excuse to cut costs. Your team members deserve a certain level of compensation, and it’s your responsibility as team leader to see that they get it. Try leveraging your past successes to gain extra compensation for outstanding performers, which can create a beneficial, competitive environment.

The Economy May Be Tough, But a Good Project Manager is Tougher

No matter what’s happening in the global financial markets or in your specific industry, don’t let your objectives slide out of view. Keep them in place and keep striving to reach them. Adjust the pace when necessary to account for complications, such as supply chain disruptions, production issues or financial pressures. But don’t set your goals aside or ignore them completely.

As a good project manager, you’ll be sure to outlast a bad economy when you apply core skills learned in your project management certification training, and follow these simple-to-implement tips. Perhaps the most important one is this: don’t let the economy create a negative work environment. Stay focused, positive and optimistic. It’s what your team expects from you – and doing so will continue to motivate them through any tough economic period. That’s how good project managers make it through bad economies – and become even better!

This article was provided by University Alliance and submitted to PM Hut on behalf of Villanova University. Villanova provides several project management courses (see here) including several project management certificate programs (see here).

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