What Makes a Great Project Manager?
It’s not an easy role to take on.
Project managers have a unique set of responsibilities in a project’s lifecycle. They handle duties that range from broad strategy to one-on-one coordination of team members. It’s a broad skillet that many people aren’t equipped for out of the gate.
To help clarify, we’ve compiled four traits that, in our experience as a recruiting firm, make a person a great candidate for a project manager position.
1. Passion for the job
Sorry folks, this first tip is a tough one to take on if you don’t already have it. Great project managers need to be passionate about what they do. If you don’t care about the work, or you’re stuck with your head in another project, you won’t have any chance of inspiring your team.
It’s fair to say that passion is one of the biggest prerequisites for any project manager, particularly when you think about the job’s goals: Motivating, delegating, and encouraging workers to get the job done. Project managers can’t just phone it in; they need to set the example for their teams.
And given that a mere 29 percent of employees feel deeply motivated in their jobs, it’s clear that the world desperately needs more leaders who can inspire this passion in others.
2. Mature views on delegation
Of all the managerial skill sets that we run across, this has to be one of the toughest for executives to master. Of course, every manager loves to talk about how he/she is great at “delegating”, but what the heck does that actually mean?
Here’s a quick tip: There’s more to it than simply assigning tasks to your underlings.
Effective delegation means understanding your own responsibilities, your team’s responsibilities, and how every piece of each workflow fits together. It means knowing how much work to assign to others and how much to keep on your own plate. And when the work is assigned, it means knowing how to keep oversight over your workers without micromanaging them too heavily.
3. Communication skills
This one’s a given for every job out there, but it bears repeating for project managers: Communication is an indispensable trait.
According to research compiled by the Society for Human Resource Management, poor communication among team members is prevalent in just about every company out there. Even smaller companies of around 100 employees lost an average of $420,000 each year due to communication errors.
Project managers need to be the control towers that prevent these mistakes. They need to establish clear expectations for updates and make sure all lines of communication are open. This applies to every task, milestone, or deliverable on the schedule. It’s the team’s job to get it done, and it’s the project manager’s job to help them do it.
4. Lack of ego
While more a personal philosophy than a skill per se, this is a crucial aspect of project management. Why?
It’s because ego is the death of effective teamwork.
As soon as team members start believing that their own contributions should be valued over others, teamwork suffers. This applies as much to project managers as anyone else—maybe even more so!
Project managers don’t create. They might be the ones behind the reins, but they’re not pulling the carriage. That’s what your team is for—and great project managers understand this better than anyone. The chief responsibility of project management is just that: Management of others. They need to give their teams the freedom they need to complete the work without letting their personal desires for recognition enter the picture.
Succeeding as a Project Manager
Did you know that a full 58 percent of managers didn’t receive any type of management training when accepting their new positions? With such a lack of effective training, it’s clear why communication suffers and project managers struggle.
If you find yourself in a position where you’re leading others (or you’re applying for one!) keep the above tips in mind. Project management is mostly about the soft skills, and fortunately, these are the easiest type of skills to practice in your day-to-day interactions.