Every project manager has his or her own style to being efficient at their job. Some embrace an agile approach, while others lean more toward a waterfall model. Some are effective by just going with the project flow and successfully getting it completed to the level that’s satisfactory to the company.
In any methodology a project manager embraces, it’s more important to have the right characteristics. In my five years of working in a project management role, here are eight traits that I feel are key for all project managers to exhibit.
- Know Your Team: Everyone has their quirks and ways of doing their job; get to know their style! By understanding their work flow and preferences, it will help you manage them and the project more effectively.
- Premeditate Problems: As you build your experience you’ll start to see where potential road blocks may occur. This could be a client going on a 2-week vacation, or seeing a potential conflict among team members. The more proactive you can be in minimizing these problems, the more successful the project.
- Command Authority Without Being a Commander: You’re in charge of a project’s success. This gives you natural authority to manage others, but don’t forget you’re working with people who have feelings. You may presume natural leadership; however, don’t get too big for your britches and start barking orders. Nine times out of 10 you’ll have an unhappy team and a headache of a project to manage.
- Be flexible: As we know it’s almost impossible for a project to run flawlessly, on schedule, and without a client disrupting the flow. As annoying as it may be, there will always be unplanned factors throughout the project’s duration. To date, I don’t think I’ve ever had a project not encounter a hiccup.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help: Remember my first point about knowing your team? In times of chaos and deadlines, they’ll be your best ally when it comes to helping you out. For instance, perhaps your writer could reach out to the designer with the next step in the project. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance when you’re drowning or don’t know how to handle something. Everyone knows superheroes need help sometimes!
- Care About The Project: Not all projects are going to be complete creative overhauls for a company with a hip new product or service. Sometimes you’re going to get more mundane assignments, but that doesn’t mean you should put in less effort in managing the project to the best of your ability. Sometimes these are the projects with the bigger payoffs.
- Care About All Parties Involved: You may not love everyone with whom you work on a project, but you darn well should respect them and care about their opinions. I guarantee not every client, co-worker, or stakeholder will be easy to manage. You may have to bite your tongue and communicate professionally even when they don’t deserve it.
- Always Ask Questions: You’re running the show, and therefore you need to know every project detail and understand it. Chances are if it’s confusing to you it may be for others. Schedule 15-minute meetings if it will help clear the air between team members, or go back to the client if a direction is misunderstood. Better to be safe than sorry.
Any successful project manager knows the job requires more than keeping a project on deadline. It entails the communication of others, total investment in the project’s success, and a well deserved martini at the end of the day. Cheers!
See Also: There Really Is An “I” in Team