While really good project managers are thin enough on the ground, truly great ones are even harder to find. But what sets the two groups apart?
Given that I have been involved in project management for over 15 years, I think I am uniquely well-placed to comment!
And I know that it’s about a lot more than just being able to delegate tasks, meet deadlines, organise the project timetable and make budgets add up. ‘Soft’ and highly collaborative skills like being able to negotiate, lead with a naturally assertive authority and agility and be able to strategise and analyse clearly on a daily basis are vital.
You also need to be able to keep the morale of your team high at all times, even when the going gets tough- which you can be pretty darned sure it will do at times.
Great project managers don’t let their project stand still, but keep things moving forwards to a successful completion with a clear sense of direction.
The best people in charge of projects are also flexible enough to adapt to things which, inevitably, always change, often rapidly. After all, change is the one thing you can bank on happening. They will build team skills to realise strategic vision for a project, staying calm themselves however stormy it gets – and measure and assess progress and achievements all the while.
And while good project managers keep things on track well enough, great ones anticipate the bumps along the way, and have the agility to create solutions as they are needed.
When it comes to taking on people for a project, it’s about more than just hiring competent teams. You need to be able to make the best use of everyone’s skills at the right time, and in the right way, to find particular solutions for specific problems.
While good managers worry about outcomes, great PMs know exactly what has to be done to solve a problem, generating and assessing options to find the best approach for each solution.
Finally, while good project managers often worry about how they are going to get everything done, great ones understand that negotiation, problem-solving and collaboration are at the heart of any successful project completion. They will take care of the details so that everyone else on the team can get on with what they need to do for successful completion in a stress-free way.
I believe that I’ve learned these skills over the years, and gained a good understanding of great project management. Talk me about the difference I could make to your project, whatever that may be.