07 May What Makes a Good Project Manager?
During the past fifty years, project management (PM) has grown by leaps and bounds. What started off as a discipline that initially focused on the aerospace, construction and defense industries have now expanded into every possible sector imaginable. With this rise in popularity, more and more professionals have opted to become certified project managers, adding multiple acronyms to their titles and degrees to their resumes.
Despite this growing availability of project management courses and certifications, certain individual proficiencies or personality traits are crucial for anyone looking to become an effective project manager. With that in mind, what are some of the main skills required to be a good project manager?
Michael Thrasou, a consultant Senior Project Manager at MDA Cyprus and an EIMF Lecturer on all-things PM, said that, in his experience, to “be an effective and successful project leader one needs to master many skills but, most importantly, it comes down to communication, negotiation and conflict resolution, emotional intelligence, leadership and planning.”
Below we break down the importance of each one of the aforementioned characteristics, providing you with a few case studies to illustrate their value.
Effective communication might be the most important skill required of any project manager. Professional project management associations suggest that between 75 and 90% of the time spent by a project manager on a project is dedicated to communication.
Individuals in this role spend most of their time actively listening, delegating and conveying information to their colleagues. This means informing their team about the project’s goals, as well as their main duties and expectations, and providing them with ample feedback on their performance, among others.
Similarly, communication plays a crucial role in negotiating and resolving conflicts. Politics, which is predominantly about communication and being able to effectively deliver a message, is a big part of the project management role. EIMF’s Thrasou says that being able to “mediate, handle difficult relationships and resolve problems or interpersonal conflicts is an art all project managers need to master.”
Emotional Intelligence (EI)
Another necessary skill for all project managers is to have strong Emotional Intelligence, or the ability to identify, process and manage one’s emotions and those of the people in their team.
This means successful project managers should show plenty of self-awareness and empathy, have the ability to self-regulate or always stay in control, be self-motivated and not require external praise to get things accomplished, and display strong social skills that make them effective yet compassionate communicators.
Overall, as explained by Positive Psychology, research has shown that “individuals (from interns to managers) with higher EI are better equipped to work cohesively within teams, deal with change more effectively, and manage stress – thus enabling them to more efficiently pursue business objectives.”
For instance, in an effort to improve its team’s performance and better sustain the company’s “people first” culture, international courier Fedex set up, in 2014, an extensive six-month emotional intelligence training for its new managers. Following this training, which was carried out by Six Seconds, a leading emotional intelligence network, participants saw an 8 to 11% increase in their emotional intelligence and leadership skills. More specifically, 72% of the managers involved “experienced very large increases in Decision Making,” 60% witnessed “large increases in Quality of Life,” and 58% saw “very large increases in Influence” according to Six Seconds’ report on this case study.
As the person in charge of running a project, leadership, or the ability to inspire, guide and lead a team towards their final goal, is of utmost importance in this field.
EB Construction Software, a company that develops online project management solutions for the construction industry, summarizes this required skill nicely: “Good project managers are inspiring leaders whose work ethic and attention-to-detail rubs off on those around them. These all-star performers understand how to lead by example – they show up to the office early, leave late, and exude passion and verve in between. Good project managers also understand that their mood, demeanor and actions can set the tone for the project, the project team and even their company.”
More specifically, project managers serve as the key component of any team, bringing team members together to work towards a desired outcome.
EB Construction Software explains: “A team builder is someone who understands how to get people working together, collaborating and sharing ideas. They understand that the project stakeholders will either fail together or succeed together, and that project performance is optimized when everyone is pushing in the same direction. Good project managers understand how to unite their team members towards a common goal and develop a sense of morale while maintaining a space to recognize individual contributions and opinions. Good project managers help their teams reach consensus faster by facilitating effective discussions.”
Last but not least, without proper planning, most projects are bound to fail. Hence, it is imperative for all project managers to be organized and acquire a solid foundation in planning in order to be successful.
DPM, an online platform for project managers operating in the digital world, clearly explains how planning comes into play in this sector: “Proper planning means everything from meta to micro. There’s the large scale obvious planning we need to get right to create great meeting plans, statements of work, estimates, timelines, resource plans and briefs, to the more mundane— planning out your day, who you’re going to talk to first, and how you are going to make time to keep your status documents up to date. Planning is all about finding ways to do all that you need to do as efficiently as possible.”
An excellent case that reflects the importance of diligent planning is the construction of the $1 billion US Department of Veteran Affairs hospital that replaced the facility destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans back in 2006. Considering the enormous pressure exerted on the project by the government, medical professionals and the city’s population, thorough and meticulous planning was crucial to delivering the end result both on time and within the assigned budget. As explained in a Project Management Institute (PMI) report on this particular case, “better planning upfront ensured the team set realistic timeline goals and helped foster a culture committed to good communication and problem solving.”
EIMF offers a variety of courses and certifications for individuals interested in project management opportunities. The available courses until June 2020 are listed below:
- EXIN Agile Scrum Foundation
- EXIN Agile Scrum Master
- Project Risk Communication Monitoring and Review
- Project and Risk Management Essentials for Non-Project Managers
- Project Risk Management
- Financial Analysis for Project Managers
- PRINCE2® Project Management Foundation Certification Preparation Course
- PRINCE2® Project Management Practitioner Certification Preparation Course
For further information about these offerings, please view the EIMF Upcoming Seminars to learn more about the course(s) of your interest.
For any additional details on these offerings, please feel free to speak with an expert learning and development adviser at EIMF at +357-22274470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.