Project Manager Skills

Disciplinarian

Meeting

 

Discipline has different meanings when we move from project management world to the outside world. The non-project management meaning relates to potential punishment for not meeting the expected results set on someone. Self-discipline in project management is slightly different as the expectation is to apply a set of rules that will ensure everyone is diligent and stick to the plan throughout the project lifecycle to achieve the common goals and objectives. For example, imagine starting a project and not having the discipline to go through the activities without any control or processes and expecting things to happen by themselves? Unless one has a highly self-motivating team, without discipline no activities can progress the way they should. So the key to success is to ensure discipline is applied and communicated to everyone on the project at the start, that is, setting the expectations. Self-discipline involves ensuring an understanding of why you have embarked that project in the first place, ensuring you know how you are going to succeed with the limited time, resources and budget you have, and importantly sticking at it to ensure it all happens.

 

Risk Manager

Risk Manager

 

When a project manager is hired or assigned to a project, there is an automatic expectation from the stakeholders that they will manage any on-going risks and or manage any inherent risks. Anyone who embraces the risk approach in managing their project, is managing the project risks and protecting the project from failure. Project Managers are not only scheduling managers, but also risk managers preparing for future risks which may lead to project failure.

 

The reason why certain industries hire project managers who have working experience in their industries is because it is only with experience that the managers will foresee the risks that may be the showstoppers.

 

Facilitator

Facilitator

 

“Facilitation is like dancing. If your mind wanders, you miss the rhythm and trip”. (Hunter, Baily & Taylor, 1998, p. 37). As a project manager you are the task master, meaning you yourself are not doing the actual work as you have a team of people, who are responsible for delivering the end results firstly to you as project manager, and then ultimately the stakeholders. You are co-ordinating their responses and making it happen.

 

Being a good facilitator is about letting everyone in your team voice their opinion. It comes down to ensuring you set the agenda, you set the objectives, and come up with options to any problem which ultimately provides the best solution.

 

People Manager

People Manager

 

One of the tricks, or should I say good techniques, to succeeding in project delivery of any size is to be able to manage people’s expectations and to be able to get them to produce the desired outcome. As a project manager most of the time you are not the actual doer, you are just a task master and for that you need to have the persuasion skills to be able to get people to act on the tasks in your plan. You must also be able to get them to go along with the project and be able to steer them in the right direction.

 

It is easier when you are given dedicated resources for the project, but just imagine when these resources are working on multiple projects at the same time. Here comes the test of the true project management, your ability to drive people's behaviours and to get them to contribute to your project with true intentions of succeeding. People management is all about understanding the psychology of people, connecting with your team, making everyone feel they are important, and they are important to the overall success of the project. Great leaders succeed in what they do, not because they are good at doing it themselves, but because they are good at inspiring those who work for them and show integrity.

 

Project management is all about people management. Once you master this on top of the project management basics you can succeed in delivering any project of any magnitude. To be a great people manager first one must master themselves by truely being content.

 

Problem Solver

Rubiks Cube

 

We all want things to go smoothly, but that is not realistic when we are managing projects. It is easier if we can anticipate problems early on the project as we can put energy and resources into solving these problems before they become bigger.

 

Problems are often like parasites - they stay clung on to you if you don’t find ways to get rid of them quickly. Problem solving skills are quite essential in everyday project management and in our daily lives. As soon as you identify a problem find ways to remove it before it becomes bigger. Solving problems becomes second nature if we have the tools to resolving them the same way. Understanding what the problem is can be an effective starting point and then we need to find ways of solving it. Once you have identified a few ways, find the most appropriate solution and then enact it.  Sounds simple, but it requires practice.

 

Communicator

Communicator

 

Effective communication is key not only in our general day to day life but also during the management of projects. As a project manager it is in fact the most important skill. You not only have to communicate to your team on a daily basis and manage downwards, but also manage upwards to your superiors and to the stakeholders about the status of your project. Too much or too little communication can be disruptive hence working out the communication format and the frequency during the planning phase of the project via a plan is very important.

 

This helps set the expectations of all the stakeholders. I have in my experience come across project managers who only communicate when there is good news in the hope that the bad news will fade away. What they don’t realise is the project manager's credibility is tied not around just being able to relay good news but also advising the stakeholders of various pitfalls and helping come up options, and avoid risks.

 

Key skills required for effective communication include;