A project can be small and straightforward, the kind that can be planned and completed within a few weeks. However, more often, a project can be large in scope, with a thousand moving parts. In both these cases, the project manager is the one who is responsible for the planning and execution of the project. It is a project manager’s job to allocate duties to team members and to make sure all expectations are met by the deadline. A highly effective project manager, however, seeks to exceed expectations.
See Also: Implementing project management for small businesses.
Honestly, it can be a tough, high-pressure job even if already you have some experience under your belt, and your confidence might flag. So, in this article, we’ll discuss five of the most important traits a highly-effective project manager possesses. After reading this, you will be more aware of your strengths and will also be able to identify areas that need improvement. This post will also be useful to both seasoned and untried managers.
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Spoiler alert: to acquire every one of these qualities, you will need to be top-notch at communicating.
Major Qualities of Highly Effective Project Manager
They Keep The Final Goal In Mind
To “keep the final goal in mind” is be sustainable. “Sustainable” in this sense means that effective project managers do not rush into a new project without planning.
A project manager has a vision of the ideal result and spends a good chunk of time planning to reach this goal. It is their responsibility to communicate the plan to the rest of their team and to allocate duties accordingly. A project plan needs a strong foundation with a final destination in mind. Sometimes, slow and steady actually does win the race.
Additionally, a lack of training or understanding can ruin a project in its climax.
Here are some great ways to remain sustainable and avoid mistakes while managing a new project:
- Ensure that your team is familiar with the budget and rules of a project at the very beginning.
- Make sure everyone on the team understands what they need to do and how it fits in with their colleagues’ duties. Expectations need to be communicated clearly.
- Give people some extra training to make sure they are refreshed on the skills needed to accomplish a job.
- “Keeping the goal in mind” also applies to day-to-day life. When one ignores sleep, socialising, or health because “there’s no time”, someone is probably going to pay for it later. Too much stress leads to burn-out and burn-out leads to low productivity and many silly mistakes later on. A great project manager has to factor in some downtime for themselves and for their team members
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A project manager is unlikely to be the technical expert since their main responsibility is to coordinate. All the same, a manager who is able to use relevant software and understand several technical theories will be an asset. This ease with the technical aspect helps project managers select the best strategies when managing team resources.
Effective project managers are always one step ahead. They have Plans A, B, and C to deal with problems before they occur. Of course, these plans won’t always work because the business environment is unpredictable. Still, the intention goes a very long way.
Proactive and effective project managers are great communicators. They know how to get in touch with their team members quickly in an emergency and allocate duties to the team in the most productive way possible. Their goal is to waste no time. A great way of doing this is by setting up collaboration tools and software, where all team members can share data, research, and discuss with ease.
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Project Management Tools
Here are 5 free project management tools you might not have heard of. They allow private messaging, Gantt charts, project workflow visualisation, and more.
- Project.co – free for five internal users and up to five active projects.
- Toggl Plan – free for an unlimited number of projects for up to five team members.
- Asana – free for an unlimited number of projects for teams up to 15 people
- Teamwork – free for up to five users.
- Wrike – free for up to five users.
In addition, as a proactive project manager, it is important to speak up if someone on your team has found a better way of completing a task than is usually done. Test thoroughly and then present new ideas to your boss and the rest of your team. Not only will your own project benefit, but other projects might see improvements too. And of course, you’ll look good to the boss.
Being proactive might sound intimidating, especially if your project involves at least 100 things that can go wrong. In order not to burn out, it’s a great idea to stay focused on only the top 3 critical issues at a single time. Therefore, if you have several tasks to complete before the end of the day, you might choose to mute distractions such as instant messengers and email notifications.
Once again, we return to communication. Being able to communicate clearly with everyone, from a boss to a junior employee is a marvellous skill. An effective project manager is also the team’s link to the rest of the organisation. They must be able to use negotiation skills and persuasion in support of theirs and other team members’ advancement.
Of course, integrity is another keyword at this stage. As a project manager, it is important to keep fairness in mind when negotiating for a better deal.
Working with a bunch of different people who have diverse personal characteristics and professional strengths, all on a single team can be tough. However, it is a great way to improve your team-building and negotiation skills. Sometimes you might have to compromise your way of doing things for the greater good.
It’s wonderful when you win, but it is equally important that your clients, colleagues, and bosses get a ‘win’ too. Win/Win situations like these can be difficult to achieve. It takes creativity, empathy, and – you guessed it, communication.
See also: Tips for Making the Best Negotiations
Possess Great Leadership
“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” – Warren Bennis
It goes without saying that a highly effective project manager must be a leader. The great news is that leadership is a skill like any other, learned through experience and failure.
A leader encourages enthusiasm for team goals. Essentially, project managers try to inspire a common vision. Members of your team should understand the effort a project will require and why it can be a rewarding experience for them. To inspire this common vision, communicating clearly in both written and visual presentations is vital. It is important to demonstrate the kind of dedication you want.
Furthermore, as a project manager/leader, you should be willing to support your team. This means being available to your colleagues to give direction at work. You don’t have to be best friends with everyone, but if you seem unapproachable, you might find that you’re always the last one to hear about a problem.
Check out some great business books like The Empathy Edge by Maria Ross and Trillion Dollar Coach by Eric Schmidt, which explain the importance of humility and empathy in leadership.
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Keeping these qualities in mind, it is possible to become a highly effective project manager in no time at all! What are some other qualities you think a project manager must have?
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