Project management is a multidisciplinary approach. It requires effort and it is not an easy job. Project management involves several steps from the initiation, planning, executing to monitoring, controlling and closing of a project. A successful and effective project manager is one who can keep projects and team on track which requires more than technical know-how. Here in this article, we are going to talk about 10 project manager qualities which are “must to have”.
Generally, organizations tend to hire technical experts for the project manager position. As there is a notion that since they excel in technical fields so likewise, they will become perfect project managers as well. This is generally not true! Because project managers need to wear many different hats in order to be an effective project manager. They need various degrees of expertise and get Project Manager Training. They need to know how to use some certain PM Tools. For instance, attending a MS Project training will enhance planning skills. Even though a project manager might possess technical skills, these skills are not a prerequisite for sound project management skills. As a matter of fact, a more important thing for project managers is to understand and apply good project management techniques along with a solid understanding of general management skills.
It is true that key for successful management of the project is to manage a project on time and on budget, by gaining the confidence of all stakeholders and leading a highly motivated team to a successful outcome.
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10 Must-to-Have Qualities of a Project Manager
A project manager needs to possess general management skills along with knowledge of the application area.
- General Management Skills include every area of management from accounting to strategic planning, supervision, personnel administration and more.
- Application Areas
- By industry group such as automotive, construction
- Department such as marketing or finance and
- Technical such as engineering and software development or
- Management such as procurement and research and development specialties.
If you have experience in the application area you are working, it will give you an added advantage when it comes to project management.
Here we will be listing general management skills which are the foundation of good project management skills:
Project Manager Qualities #1 – Communication
This is considered to be one of the most essential project manager qualities. The backbone for all successful project is written and oral communication. Project life cycle uses many forms of communication.
As a project manager, your job is to ensure that information is clear, complete and explicit. So that recipient does not face any trouble in understanding what has been communicated.
We all understand the importance of communication. We all know that the project manager is 90% communicating in all the projects. But still, most of us are not able to communicate as effectively as it should be done. At certain times in the project environment, it becomes difficult to communicate the failures, negative feedback or reporting to senior management or customer.
Hence, regardless of the circumstances, an effective project manager should find appropriate ways to deal with all kinds of situations whether the project is not on time or it has failed.
If project managers are honest and quick to respond in their communication then it increases the likelihood of a successful project. A project manager has to communicate in all directions vertically (up and down the organization) with the customer, sponsor, functional managers, and team members. Alsoı horizontally among peers with the other project managers and projects.
Therefore the key for making a project successful is to understand how to tailor the style for each stakeholder and make them engaged in the project.
Project Manager Qualities #2 – Time Management Skills
We all know that time is a finite resource and it is up to you to make most of it. If you lose money then you might get a chance to make it back but if you waste an hour, it is not replaceable. Time management is organizing your day so that you find the best use for every moment. Time Management is one of the big challenges for Project Managers and hence one of the project manager qualities which is vital to the project.
Managing and optimizing time is of the utmost importance for a Project Manager to be able to conduct a project efficiently. As a project manager, you are managing not only your own time but the time of your entire team. A project manager can make use of time management techniques like:
- Follow the schedule,
- Decide fast,
- Decide who should attend,
- Learn to say no,
- Start now,
- Do tough part first,
- Travel light,
- Work at travel stops,
- Refuse to do unimportant,
- Look Ahead,
- Send out the meeting agenda,
- Overcome procrastination.
Task delegation is another skill in which the project manager needs to be expert in. If a project manager values time then they must learn to delegate effectively. When they have the right people in the team then they can assign the tasks to individual members of the team in a meaningful manner.
Time management will help you better prioritize project tasks and utilize your team’s time and skill sets in order to consistently deliver the projects on time and within budget.
Project Manager Qualities #3 – Risk Management
When things do not go as expected on a project or go against the plan then all eyes are turned towards the project manager. Irrespective of the circumstances, everyone wonders that manager should have foreseen the problem and made a contingency plan to avert this situation. It is a fact that if one can anticipate problems and plan the solutions beforehand will improve chances of success. So, this is another key skill for a project manager to manage the unexpected things in a controlled manner. The project manager should prepare beforehand for unknowns or what could go wrong in the project. And then make a plan to deal with such problems. It may involve usage of risk management strategies to choose an appropriate response plan to handle known and unknown problems.
Project Manager Qualities #4 – Leadership
A project manager needs to exhibit good leadership skills to lead the project to success. It requires the manager to make team members work efficiently and effectively. This further requires an individual to have a clear vision, clarity in reason, practical in scheduling and the ability to attract a talented and efficient team.
Leadership is about showing people how they can achieve their own objectives by aligning themselves to project objectives. For example, if an engineer has a career goal to become a business analyst so he or she should get involved in the requirements gathering phase. Putting in extra effort to acquire the required knowledge and contributing can help this engineer grow into that role.
Application of leadership and management in project execution usually depends on the type of project and life cycle stage that the project is in. For those projects which are large scale, complex, global in nature, time constraint deliverable with distributed project teams requires effective and smart leadership. In a nutshell, leadership style should be sharing, flexible, inspiring, and innovative and motivating so as to bring success. Besides, project managers’ responsibility is not only to lead a project towards success but also lead a team to achieve the goal.
PM Qualities #5 – Negotiation
Negotiation means getting the best of your opponent. Project Managers need to be able to negotiate for resources, time, money, and scope on their projects. Effective negotiation skills are essential for the successful management of projects. In fact, in our day to day life, we make use of negotiation skills in one form or another. For example how much pocket money your child wants? Negotiations begin and then follows the discussion. In simple terms, negotiating is working with others to come to an agreement. As a project manager, if there are issues on the project, you should listen to both the parties and make a decision in a fair manner.
Negotiation plays a vital role in the project from the scope, resource assignments to budget and contracts. It involves negotiation with a group of people or one to one. Project managers are generally negotiating with clients or suppliers or resources from other project managers
Project management’s responsibility is to know how to negotiate well so that all parties are satisfied. It is important to NOT take sides while negotiating. You must be fair and arrive at a resolution. Key for negotiation is to arrive at a win-win situation. The best way for a successful negotiation is that the project manager should understand stakeholder interest and relationship to identify needs and fulfill them to satisfy the stakeholders.
Project Manager Qualities #6 – Budgeting
Managing the cost or budget of the project is one of the critical elements to be considered by project managers. Allocation of the budget can determine the success of a project. If a project is completed within budgetary requirements then it is deemed a success. Project Managers establish and manage budgets so they need some knowledge of finance and accounting. Project managers should be able to do cost estimates for project budgeting. They should be able to deliver the project within the cost constraints. They should know how to spend what they have been allocated and whether it is enough or not to deliver what project sponsor is expecting.
Hence the main skills required on the projects are understanding vendor quotes, preparing purchase orders and reconciling invoices. These costs are linked to project activities and expense items in the budget. Budgeting and control of finances in a project must be proactively managed by the project manager and the project manager should review it regularly as it is an important component. Keeping a firm grasp on the project budget will ensure that it is kept within the forecast set from the beginning.
PM Qualities #7 – Influencing
Influencing can be defined as using your relationship with team members effectively to ensure they collaborate and cooperate well on making right decisions achieving project goals. Project managers mostly use this power to get their work done either with a team member or senior or peers. In simple terms, influencing is the ability to get things done through others. It is like convincing the child that home-cooked food is better than pizzas even if pizza is what they want.
Best way to influence team members is to lead by example. Project managers make use of different types of power and politics to influence people to perform. Here the power is the ability to get people to do things by changing the minds and the course of events. Whereas politics is getting a group of people with different interests to cooperate even in the middle of a conflict. Hence project manager must understand the formal and informal structure of all the organizations involved in the project. You should keep the team’s interest in mind while making decisions. So even if the decisions do not go in their favor, they would respect you for your effort.
Project Manager Qualities #8- Conflict Management
Conflict is inevitable in projects because of their nature. It may limit the power of the project manager for obtaining resources from functional managers. Conflict management involves solving problems. The project manager is responsible to avoid conflicts through the following steps:
- Informing the team of exactly where the project is headed, project constraints and objectives, contents of the project charter, all key decisions and changes if any,
- Clearly assigning the work without any ambiguity or overlapping responsibilities,
- Making work assignment challenging and more interesting,
- Following good project management and project planning practices.
Generally, the main source of conflict on the project is personality difference. Seven sources of conflict in order of frequency are Schedules, Project priorities, Resources, Technical opinions, Administrative procedures, and Cost.
Conflict is generally resolved by those involved in the conflict. Project Manager should generally try to facilitate the resolution of problems and conflict as long as he or she has authority over the people or issues involved in the conflict.
Problem-solving requires a few steps:
- First, you must define the problem by separating the causes from the symptoms. This means you should identify what is causing the problem? Is it a technical problem or interpersonal problem between team members or managerial problem? What are the impacts or consequences?
- In the next step, you should examine and analyze the problem, the situation causing it and alternates available.
- Once the analysis is done, the project manager will determine the best course of action to take and implement the decision at the right time.
Conflicts are part of any system where people are involved. If the conflict is managed well, then the conflicting situation can bring together people and make them more focused on achieving project objectives. We cannot expect that project manager is prepared to answer every single issue. However, they should have the capacity to utilize the knowledge of their team members and stakeholders to develop a response to any problems they face while delivering the project.
Project Manager Qualities #9- Team Building & Motivating
Project managers generally rely on team building and motivational skills. They set the tone for the project team and help the members work through various stages of team development for the team to become fully functional. During the course of the project, it becomes important for the project manager to motivate the team, especially when the project is long or hindrances are coming along the way.
At times, when team members are not directly reporting to the project manager then motivation plays a vital role to deal with dilemmas. Best way to ask the functional manager to allow you to get involved in the team member’s performance reviews.
The project manager should determine what motivates each of the team members and help them get those things will keep them motivated. For some people, it may be financial compensation, for others, it could be recognition of hard work. For some, it is a sense of accomplishment by doing challenging work and for others, it could be recognition of hard work.
PM Qualities #10-Decision Making
Though there are many skills required but the ability to make decisions is perhaps the most valuable. Decision making is about how a project manager handles issues on the project. The quality of their decisions will determine their effectiveness as a project manager and as a leader.
Four factors to make a decision are Trust, Quality, Acceptance and Time Constraint. Strong decision-making skills are necessary to weigh the available options and choose the best course of action. Indecisiveness can put the brakes on a project.
And project manager can follow 6 phase decision-making model as below:
- Define the problem in a concise manner
- Do brainstorming for multiple solutions.
- Make sure not to take decisions in haste.
- Determine evaluation criteria, advantages and disadvantages of alternate solutions and choose the best solution
- Figure out who is involved in implementing a solution and who gets affected and involve them to gain acceptance of the solution
- Implement the Solution
- Analyze, evaluate and determine the lessons
- Evaluate to what extent solution achieves the project objectives
Good Decision making is not only important in personal life but in professional life as well. Great project managers are empowered to make countless decisions to keep the project on track.
It is true that a single minor wrong decision can jeopardize the entire project. Hence a project manager needs to be capable of thinking quickly and reacting decisively.
What are the Strengths of the Project Manager?
Successful project managers are able to oversee a project from beginning to end. The job of the project manager requires the right combination of knowledge, experience, analytical skills, and personality traits. Great project managers require a lot more than the ability to move a milestone. There are many qualities which a great manager should have. But here we will be listing the top 10 strengths of a project manager which can make a project successful:
The project manager should have a great vision. They should be able to see the big picture and not lose sight of it. In projects, they should break down large goals into smaller, more manageable parts and able to focus on necessary detail without bothering with small, irrelevant issues.
Effective project managers should be always punctual and meet their deadlines. They should be able to distinguish between what is essential or not. In order to juggle between deadlines, potential clients and task, they need to do more in less time.
Project managers should be able to find an alternate solution to problems that occur and able to form a strategy when things are not in place.
4. Honest & Reliable
A project manager should be honest, reliable and responsible. Team members respect integrity and loyalty. The project managers should mean what they say and vice versa. They should fulfill promises and held others accountable in a fair way if they don’t deliver what is expected of them.
5. Action Oriented
The project manager needs to be result-driven and action-oriented. They should have the ability to focus on their goals. A problem shouldn’t distract or discourage them.
6. Experienced and Knowledgeable
Team members should know that the project manager is knowledgeable. His experience and knowledge will command respect from the team. They set realistic deadlines for team members, know what needs to be done and which resources are available to get there. Their approach should be logical and reasonable.
7. Command Authority
They should be able to use the power they possess by knowing how to do it.
The project manager needs to connect with employees and client on the human level. They are able to put themselves in other’s shoes to understand their perspectives and issues. It will help them understand how to improvise a project and practical implications of behavior on team, client and project life cycle.
A project manager’s needs to practice composure to be able to think with a clear head when there is chaos all around. For instance, a client asks for last minute changes or projects are going off track or imbalance workload.
Last but not least, ethics is one of important quality for a project manager. It doesn’t matter how much experienced and skilled a project manager is, he or she should give due focus on ethics.
If you want to know more about the above-mentioned skills, all of them are described more in detail in PMP training at Master of Project Academy provides.