What makes a great project manager? It boils down to a mix of experience and skills. Project managers can be known to gather a bad reputation and be seen a bit of a ‘know it all’ or ‘bossy boots’ that bosses everyone around while doing nothing however this is most definitely not the case. While it’s true that project managers are required to delegate and run a team to success, it’s not true that they’re doing nothing. There’s a lot more to project management than just barking orders from your office.
You’d probably be surprised that telling others what to do, or managing is not even on the list of skills required for a project manager. Leading others, however, now that’s important, one which is a crucial element to the success of any project manager. Project managers are responsible for managing work by using the application of skills, tools, specialist knowledge and techniques to project activities to meet the requirements of several different project types. It’s all about being able to apply the right method to each project that is taken on.
To become an outstanding, successful project manager, it is essential to hone your skills when it comes to the many different hats you will be expected to wear and be able to identify and weaknesses. Have a look at this quick guide to essential project management skills.
Any project manager will tell you that leadership is an essential skill for being a good project manager. If this is your first project, it may even be worth investing in some leadership training if you’ve has no experience in it. Then as you go through your career, you will enhance these skills. Being in a leadership role means you will need to be able to lead and manage teams; clearing showing the whole picture, keeping the group motivated and identifying training needs. It’s your role to organize, motivate and resolve any conflict regarding the project at hand.
Being a leader isn’t only about creating a comfortable and fluid process for the teams; it’s also about enforcing processing and keeping everyone on the side in line too. While it’s essential to have input from the team, it’s also necessary to understand you have the final call, but this also means you have the last look when a project succeeds or fails. That means doing whatever it takes to get the project completed, even if it’s outside of your role.
It’s important as a project manager in a leadership role that you show that you’re supportive of the process, team, and management. You are the project number one fan, so you need to make sure you can successfully get others on board, and this means showing them support too if they have concerns take them on board and consider them when making any choices.
The key to having excellent project management leadership skills is to ensure you’re leading, rather than just managing. That means being able to show how you are going to achieve something with a clear vision rather than just delegating.
One of the essential skills for project management has got to be having the ability to communicate well as well as understanding and being understood clearly. Having fantastic communication is the backbone of any relationship, and so a project success can often take lye with the project managers ability to communicate. It’s not likely that you will ever get a bad reputation for giving too many updates, the more contact you have with employees, managers, and clients the better. It will make for a much more solid communication base if you touch base regularly; how regular can be decided amongst clients and staff. Making sure it is good, consistent communication means you’re continually able to realign if something were to change, and means you are capable of dealing with changes more quickly.
You should consider communication as a very critical area and make it a top priority, and it’s the best way of passing along your ideas, goals, and issues, as well as being able to provide clear and informative project updates. From any client’s perspective, having communication of project details in writing and a regular update pack is an essential part of recruiting a project manager in the first place. It’s going to help to build your reputation. It’s not only vital to do this; it’s also essential to have regular meetings with teams and managers to ensure a project is kept on track to where it should be.
Another critical skill for a successful project manager is project scheduling. However, it is often one that many managers fail to pay much attention to. With easy tools such as resource scheduling software available, there is no excuse for ant good project manager when it comes to keeping organized. Having the ability to organize tasks in the right order, so that you can reach the right outcome to a deadline is a significant part of the project managers job role; therefore, it is critical it has the due care and attention it deserves. It’s a good idea to have monitoring processes in place for as the project moves forward and makes small changes to ensure that everything stays in line.
There certainly is a broad array of planning that you need to get right, such as meeting plans, estimates, accurate timelines, resource plans, and briefs. It’s also a good idea to plan out your day or at least your week, especially as more and more tasks get added to the project. The key to successful planning is finding ways to do all that you need to do as efficiently as possible. Your ability to plan will shine through any project you take on, so if this is an area that you need to work on, make sure you do as a priority. Otherwise, you risk your project being majorly unsuccessful.
A considerable part of any project managers job is defining and communicating how other people will spend their time. However, it’s still equally important to be aware of how they are spending their time too. The key to success is to manage both your own time and the teams time simultaneously and connected in routine. There certainly is a million and one things you could be doing that could benefit the project, but if these aren’ allocated times, you may never reach the deadline set in place. A good project manager will be able to recognize which topics should be dealt with in what order, deciding quickly what takes precedence. Often knowing when to say “No” is a crucial project management skill. One problem that many project managers may face is the ‘urgent’ tasks that they face; these are the tasks that although are essential to complete, have the most significant effect on a deadline and the overall timeline of the success of a project.
If you have a limited amount of time in your day, try to set aside time for important tasks but also keep in mind that urgent tasks can sometimes crop up. You need to have a contingency plan in place for this happening.
Meetings are some of the most substantially time-consuming activities for any project; however, they are essential for the smooth running. It’s no secret that sessions can tend to (unjustifiably) overrun their allocated time, and some can be seen s utterly unnecessary in the first place. As a project manager, you should try to make sure you put a plugin in any meetings that are overrunning for no reason and cancel any unnecessary meetings. A session can always be rescheduled if needed in the future. A brilliant way fo now cutting down on meeting times is to use sources such as Skype to have remote meetings from your desk.
A proven strategy that works well with managing meeting times is to make sure you always have had an agenda and stick to it as much as possible. Try sending emails around to the participants before the meeting is set and ask them if they would like to include an agenda too, this way you can plan for any topics you weren’t aware of before going in.
Successful project managers not only look after their time, but they also respect their colleagues time, so being able to read the body language of people in the room is yet another essential skill to develop. You should look for opportunities to delegate responsibilities, consider multi-tasking, or rearrange your schedule when you need to. Flexibility is an excellent trait to have to be successful.
At times you can expect your schedule to go out of the window completely, it’s essential to be able to reallocate anything you had planned that was missed, you can get yourself a bad reputation if important meetings or catch-ups have been missed.
Hopefully, this quick guide will sed you down the path to project management success. Are there any other hints and tips that you should share in the comments section below?