Saturday, 20 August 2016

Nine Characteristics of a Project Manager

By Stanley Epstein - Principal Associate - Citadel Advantage Ltd.

So you are an aspiring project manager? You have done the training. You have passed the exams. You have a certificate to prove it.

Now the really hard test begins. Are you going to make the cut in the project management world? What are the key characteristics that a good project manager should have?

As one would expect, project managers come from all walks of life, with different professional backgrounds, different experiences and different skills.

Despite this however there are certain key characteristics that all good project managers’ have in common. Despite the huge diversity that project managers display there are personal traits that good ones all have in common.

To start with they like managing projects. If any of you are not entirely sure of what a project really is please take a moment or two to get you bearings by reading my article “The seven key characteristics of a project”.

Managing projects is not something people are neutral about. You either like it or you don't. Why would anyone want to do a job in which one can fail so spectacularly? If you succeed people will simply shrug their shoulders and say you just did your job?

Some people delight in the challenge and like the feeling of accomplishment, of getting something done that may not have happened without them.

So what makes a good project manager? What are the key characteristics of a good project manager?
Well, good project managers:
  1. Are hands on – the actually manage rather than simply co-ordinate, or preside over.
  2. Are natural planners – the planning of what needs to happen and what needs to happen next is a reflex part of their actions.
  3. Don't like surprises – and if you don’t want surprises you need to plan thoroughly to try to prevent them popping up.
  4. Are really effective fire-fighters - when the inevitable surprises or other missteps do occur they are able to sort them out quickly and decisively.
  5. Reward and punish and punish fairly as it is due – remember that not dealing with someone who isn't pulling their weight can not only destroy team morale but the project itself.
  6. Are good motivators and good team builders.
  7. Address conflict immediately and decisively rather than leaving things to fester – remember problems need to be nipped in the bud.
  8. Do not hide in an office, they are not desk bound – they walk around and ideally locate themselves physically in the middle of their team so they are approachable.
  9. Get consensus whenever possible but dictate when necessary.
Remember that project managers not only need all the personal skills that any manager needs; they also need to know how to manage projects; they need people management training -  leadership skills, influencing skills, appraisal skills and so on.

Most of all, good project managers MANAGE. They do not just get swept along with the tide and hope that it all pans out.  A good project manager grabs the project by the scruff of the neck and manages it.

And a final question; how many project managers should a project have? Why, one of course. The project manager may need others below him to manage parts of the project or specialist teams, but there is only one project manager accountable directly to the project sponsor.
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