What it Takes to be a Project Manager
Art Casasa, PMP, PfMP, PgMP, PMI-ACP, PMI-RMP, CSM, CSPO, CSSBB, Certified Change Management Practitioner
In recent months, I was asked a few times the personality traits, skills, and attributes that someone pursuing a career in project management should have.
In this short article, I will try to share my opinion on what a good project manager should do, what sort of value project management brings, and how to build your brand. If you are a project manager or would like to come into the profession, read on. In no particular order, I will address these items below.
First, we all agree that a good project manager should bring projects on time, on budget, and within the desired scope and quality. The latter is probably just the minimum requirements that any project manager needs to accomplish, but that is not only what you should be aiming to do.
As the profession has progressed, time, schedule, scope, and quality are the minimum to consider when managing projects. The next big step and something more common nowadays is bringing value as a project manager. To provide value, you must first understand what that is and how it relates to your projects. In general, bringing value to a project goes beyond what I have expressed previously and is not only the notion of bringing your project in control. It includes questioning why we manage the way we manage projects, find better ways to do it, and remove waste from your process. It means engaging your stakeholders, working with them closely, ensuring you are working on the right things, continuously improving, and being a business partner to your teams. Always measure yourself by the service you provide to others, the organization, society, define what is valuable to your stakeholders, and act on it. To determine what is relevant, talk to your stakeholders, never assume, communicate, and then communicate one more time. And when you think you are done communicating, find if you missed anything and discuss it one more time.
When you are a project manager, one of the most important aspects is to make sure that your brand, what you have to offer, is in line with what proper project management is. There are several aspects to consider when building your brand; some include relatively easy ones to more in-depth behaviors. From simple things such as coming in before your meetings start and having all materials ready before your stakeholders arrive, understanding all your assigned projects' value, showing speediness by sending meeting minutes immediately after your sessions to more in-depth behaviors. In-depth practices include what sort of leadership you apply to your projects. For most project management applications, you probably need to think servant leadership style, how assertive you are when you need to be, how you escalate problems, how well accepted you are in your teams, and so forth.
Probably the essential behavior or trait that you need to cultivate is patience. As a project manager, you will come into situations that might look impossible to resolve. These situations involve angry stakeholders, financial problems, behavioral problems, customer issues, and people looking for immediate resolutions to rooted difficulties. Despite the latter, you need to keep your cool and remain composed in front of all your stakeholders, once you lose your patience, once the tone of your voice and your acts reflect impulsivity, harshness, intolerance, impatience, game over you lost your project. Solve the problem and do not add more to the project with poor behavior.
Finally, always remember that project management is genuinely, once of those grassroots professions that build on experience and training. If you commit and want to be an excellent project manager, look for people who can mentor you within the company and look for what globally is considered proper project management. Join an organization like PMI, become a PMP, and attend some of their seminars or local events. Look at what other organizations do regarding project management, interact with your peers in other industries, and be surprised by the wealth of information out there. It will open your eyes and will make you a better project manager.