So what exactly does it take to be a good project manager?

So what exactly does it take to be a good project manager?

Being a Project Manager is no easy task, there are a lot of responsibilities and easily bruised egos to juggle, and more often than not, it boils down to 2 things more than anything else — being super approachable and having well polished people skills, followed by the ability to collaborate with people of different backgrounds. The skills to be an effective Project Manager are the same for everyone across all industries. These are skills that can, and should, be worked upon, and applied to different problem solving opportunities throughout your career.

Becoming a great project manager involves a lot of time spent in honing your intuition, developing outstanding communication skills, learning how to work with, and manage culturally diverse teams as well. Which makes it very important to understand the significance of each of the values/skills that a project manager should acquire:

Being transparent, and mastering inner peace

Easily one of the most significant values essential for effective client communication, transparency helps in laying the foundation of trust for better relations with the client. It is indispensable for internal communication as well. You need to be absolutely sure that everyone involved in the project has all the information required to get started and that no one is burdened with extra information that may not be as necessary to know at the time. As a project manager, it is important to monitor and maintain the quality of your product to ensure customer satisfaction. Patience is key while communicating with the client or team mates, as losing your cool will do the project more harm than good. In most cases, people do not listen to understand but only with the intent to answer to a question/dispute something they disagree with, in a room full of knee jerk responders, it’s good to have someone who can really listen and make sense of what the discussion is really about.

Being a man/woman with a plan
Having a plan, and not just an idea of a plan is essential to any (and every) project. A plan will factor in almost all ‘surprises’ you could expect to encounter during the implementation of your project. A project plan should be super comprehensive and include key details like the start date and targeted end date of the project, stakeholder selection, list of tools among other things. Project planning helps outline an overview of the timeline(s) thereby creating a the basis for a relatively hiccup free workflow that boosts productivity and successfully aids the achievement of a desirable end product. Setting goals (short-term or long-term) helps to plan the completion of the project within the stipulated time frame and budget. It helps a great deal to always be thinking ahead, and playing out “if we do this, then…” scenarios. If you don’t know what comes after then, work with your team to clarify the options. Get the Client to weigh-in. If you do this, you also avoid potential future delays/blockers for your team.

Being a proactive team player

Proactivity isn’t just limited to client communication, in terms of having prepared an agenda for the meeting before going on a call, keeping a track of the conversation via email/any other communication platform to ensure a smooth project run. As a project manager you should be the go-to person for each member in the team, which can only happen if you’re easily approachable. Project Managers shoulder an important responsibility towards their team, which is to get through any road-blocks or delays in project delivery, together and in the process developing trust amongst team mates as the project progresses. It is vital to take opinions from the team, as you all understand the project together and come up with solutions, because a team that can interact well both internally and with the client will always emerge victorious. A project manager isn’t just a manager, (s)he is also a leader. Leaders encourage team members to succeed and grow professionally, by helping team members accomplish assigned tasks effectively and successfully reach their goals.

Being able to manage risk and time

As a project manager, it helps to be able to foresee risks that could potentially hamper the progress of the project. You can jot down a list of such possibilities in early stages and make plans to mitigate those risks. Another thing a project manager must have, is excellence when it comes to time management. It’s important to be able to juggle multiple tasks, project milestones, and deadlines on a regular basis. It is not unheard of for project managers to become bogged down or feel overwhelmed because of what needs to be done, the best way to get everything done on time, and without compromising on the quality of the output, is to try to master and definitely implement good time management practices.

Being a creative problem solver

Each project has its own set of complexities that you will encounter during the development journey. A project manager should be well-equipped to deal with any such circumstances coming their way. In the midst of such chaos, project managers should be able to maintain their composure and remember that just as every dark cloud has a silver lining, the chaos is temporary, and that a solution will present itself, if looked for calmly.

Being an ace researcher, and fearless

Research is super important if you want to stay updated about the latest trends in your industry. And it doesn’t always have to be a time consuming process, one way to go about expanding your knowledge is to subscribe to channels that give you a daily/weekly/monthly update on what’s happening. This update should ideally translate into added value to your internal and external discussions. These subscriptions don’t even always need to be centered on project management topics per se. They could also be about technologies/softwares frequently used for certain types of projects, and perhaps try something different because it’s better/time effective. As a project manager it is essential to let go of what’s familiar and evolve with new and seemingly unfamiliar practices. The fear of making mistakes/being wrong stops you from carrying out experiments which might work wonders for the project and expedite the progress. Each project is a learning experience and as a project manager, you should make it a habit to make a note of the best practices, this will help in identifying factors that led to success and failure across projects, once you’ve got that sorted, you’ll hopefully avoid those mistakes in the future!

Now obviously this is not the only set of skills that make a great project manager, feel free to make suggestions, share opinions, experiences as a Project Manager, anecdotes, or even just say Hi, in the comments section below!