Being a project manager is not easy. Not only do you have to be the most organized and put together individual on your team, you also have to worry about your job being on the line if a project is not finished successfully. While managing projects for Victory Productions, a small book and learning materials publisher, it was imperative that the projects I was managing were finished on time and within budget – after all, the education organizations we worked with were not known for being forgiving to those that squandered their very limited budgets.
Along with all that stress we face in managing projects, we also benefit from getting to collaborate with role-model team members (though they may be few and far between) and other project managers. In all these collaborations, I’ve put together my own list of traits I need to gain in order to better manage my projects:
- Organized One of the top key traits of being a successful project manager is organization. You must be organized as a project manager. You must have the ability to keep track of tasks, budgets, deadlines, and follow ups as necessary. In addition, being organized will show team members that you are on top of things which will alleviate any stress or concerns about assigning or getting tasks done and done on time.
- Detail-Oriented It is important for project managers to be able to sift through details. Some details may include minor specifications, deadlines, or other specific customer notes that should be considered during a project. As a project manager you will be given a lot of information and it is important for you to sort through and recognize errors or red flags or analyze schedules or deadlines accordingly.
- Resourceful Project managers are resourceful. They utilize their skills and training and experience to sort out details and make decisions accordingly. They make do with the information and resources that are available to them, but they also know when to step in and ask questions.
- Problem Solving Expert A big part of a project manager’s job is problem solving. In many project management roles you deal with conflict. Conflict is unavoidable, but you do have the power to find and reach a reasonable and rational resolution that is in everyone’s best interest, including the customer. You should not try to make this an exercise in power control but a chance to settle areas of conflict and allow compromise and a speedy resolution.
- The Ability to Strategize The ability to strategize is also key to successful project management. Project managers must look at details, instructions, specifications, issues, etc. objectively and strategize a plan or solution from there. It is important to look at an issue from all angles to determine which plan or solution would work best for production, for the company, and for the customer.
- Practice Effective Communication Practicing effective communication is an area in project management that cannot be overlooked. Communication can relate to the way you speak or write to someone or how a project or instructions are directed. When speaking or writing to someone, it is important to think about your words or wording beforehand. Remember that communication can be very easily misinterpreted, especially today when most correspondence is recorded in email. It is also important to think about your words and instructions before assigning or handing off a project to a team member or another department. Think of how someone will interpret your instructions or if they are clear.
- Be Proactive Project managers are also proactive. Being proactive can sometimes go hand in hand with being resourceful. As a project manager you need to be proactive and understand the projects, tasks or assignments that land on your lap. Project managers that are proactive will recognize problematic areas in a project before it begins, address any issues or concerns before they become real fires, and ask questions and follow up when necessary.
- Be Timely Remember that information should be given at the earliest possible time upon embarking on a new project or challenge. You should plan out your project and the tasks that each individual employee will need to accomplish and schedule accordingly. Remember that since each project has its own schedule and that the sooner you assign or hand off to someone, the sooner that person can do his or her job.
- Training Training is another element of project management which shouldn’t be taken lightly. You will need to constantly provide information and training to your team members. By giving your team members the tools they need to succeed, you will also succeed as a project manager as your team’s efforts will result in high quality projects and happy customers. In addition, providing effective training will also reduce the amount of errors, miscommunications, and the need to continuously retrain.
- Be Enthusiastic Show your enthusiasm. You should be excited about the tasks or projects you are about to take on. You should know that attitude is an element of success. Remember also that enthusiasm and positive attitudes are contagious. The more positivity you display the more your team members and coworkers will pick up on it. You should look forward to all the training and education you can receive. Make this a career rather than just a job. Love the challenge and rise up to it.
To summarize, in order to be a great project manager you should be able to plan out your tasks, organize, and plan accordingly. You should be able to manage your teams effectively and manage the distribution of important tasks. You should be able to sort through the details and information in projects and prioritize essential information and relay that information to your coworkers.