"Trying to manage a project without project management is like trying to play
a football game without a game plan." — K. Tate
The project manager (PM) is the person responsible for the planning and execution of a project’s strategy for success. Being a PM is a complex task that involves coordinating many different elements, from people to time to materials. The right mix of planning, monitoring, and controlling can make the difference in completing a project on time, on budget, and with results that exceed your client’s expectations.
To fulfill the responsibilities of the role of a PM and handle the challenges of creating a custom training solution, you’ll need a diverse set of skills. PMs must be able to communicate on a number of different levels, and in ways that motivate their team. It is not enough just to dole out orders; good PMs know how to engage inactive listening, provide constructive criticism when necessary, negotiate tough deals, persuade those around them, and outline good project goals in thorough detail. PMs also know how to communicate effectively and efficiently.
Good project goals feed into SMART objectives:
- Specific—straightforward and strategic
- Measurable—tied to measurable outcomes
- Achievable—realistically able to be worked toward
- Realistic—aligned with resources
- Timely—with completion timelines
Effective meetings set the tone of a project:
- Invite only those that need to attend
- Set clear objectives
- Set an agenda
- Take up a minimum amount of time and use it wisely
- Stay on task
- Start and finish on time
8 Basic Skills Every Project Manager Needs to Succeed
So what knowledge and skills does it take to be an successful project manager? It takes an investment in yourself and dedication to getting the job done. It also takes the following abilities:
- Set the vision. PMs need to set a clear vision for their project upfront and have confidence in that vision.
- Stay organized. They need to be proficient in the tools of their trade such as Microsoft Project, Office 365, or another online solution.
- Delegate and then let go. Managing projects is all about getting things done through other people. The true leader is able to delegate and then not micro-manage every aspect of the project.
- Communicate clearly. The ability to keep all stakeholders well informed is a basic requirement. PMs need to be able to communicate their goals and guidelines to team members as well as motivate them to meet deadlines. PMs also need to be effective communicators with the company’s business leaders and clients.
- Take a creative approach to problem solving. Projects rarely go exactly as planned. The effective PM needs to be able to deal with the unexpected and create solutions in a timely manner.
- Stay calm under pressure. Being able to deal with the unexpected quickly and efficiently is critical to avoid slowdown. PMs need to be able to take on each challenge as it comes with a logical, methodical approach. They need to set, observe, and re-evaluate priorities frequently, and know what to follow up with and what to ignore.
- Be a competent leader. This gives your team the confidence that you can guide them to meet the project goals. Skills like the ability to inspire others, model best practices, and encourage team members are invaluable for the successful PM.
- Recognize excellence. A successful PM acknowledges the achievements of team members that excel. In doing so it motivates others on the team to strive for excellence.
As companies turn to project-based work to help make and keep their organizations competitive and profitable, the need for skilled project leaders will continue to increase. Novatek suggests that those seeking a career in project management combine a balance of real-world experience, formal training, and certifications to achieve their goals.
For resources regarding Project Management as a career path, check out the following:
- Project Management Institute, the largest not-for-profit membership association for the PM profession
- American Management Association, a recognized leader in professional development for the PM profession
What makes a great PM in your experience? Share your thoughts in the comments below.