Would you consider yourself a successful project manager? I hope so, but as we all know, it’s always a good idea to be continuing learning and developing to improve our ability to lead projects. But what are the behaviors of successful project managers?
You probably have people in your business whom you look at and think: “Yes, you’re someone considered successful.” Even if they aren’t in a project management role, I’m sure you can identify people in business who are perceived to be a success by your management and executive teams.
Here are 5 ways that successful project managers behave.
Successful PMs are Diplomatic
Diplomacy is so important, and it’s what makes successful project managers excel in the matrix and challenging environments.
Diplomacy is part of understanding the organizational culture. It’s about being able to deal with office politics internally and with external agencies and other third-party groups.
A key part of being diplomatic is listening to what different people are saying. When you listen, you help people feel like they are being understood. And you actually understand them! Which is more important, as you can then change your actions to ensure they are engaged in the project effectively.
Successful PMs Build Teams
Successful project managers build teams. Team building doesn’t have to involve going white water rafting or spending evenings in the pub together. It simply means creating an environment that is conducive to getting work done effectively and having the right people to do the work.
Creating a project team from scratch involves identifying who needs to be involved in the work. Use capacity planning or resource management tools to help you work out who is available and suitable for the tasks that need to be done. Then you can allocate them to tasks that fit their capabilities.
Make sure everyone has the information and resources they need to do their best work. Then try to keep engagement and morale high, by helping people understand their role and how that fits with the project’s overall objectives.
Create opportunities for people to come together as small groups and as a larger group. Share successes. Make it possible for people to ask for help without feeling like they are failing personally or professionally.
Successful PMs are Committed
Tenacity is the ability to keep going, even when things are tough. Successful project managers are committed to following through. They’re not stubborn, but they do make sure activities don’t fall through the cracks and that every task gets completed.
That’s the way projects deliver on time and to the required objectives.
Successful PMs Manage Change
Change is part of projects – by its very nature, what we do on projects makes change happen in the organization.
Change is hard for people. Not everyone likes the impact of having to do things in a different way. The better you are at managing the transition to a new way of working for people, the more successful your project (and you) will be.
Another added advantage is that project team members will see that you have things under control. That makes them feel like they are working with a professional, and they’ll naturally feel more motivated. No one likes working in chaos, so make sure you don’t let change be a force for negative on your projects.
Successful PMs Manage the Process
Project management has many processes and it’s important we know how to use them. Processes are there to make project work more standardized and repeatable. That in itself is a driver for success because you are following tried and tested best practice.
Successful project managers know the process and follow it. They also know when it’s appropriate to tweak or even ignore the process if required in order to get the job done. It’s not something I’d recommend all the time, but going against the process is definitely something I’d do if necessary. As long as you can justify your actions and you can demonstrate it was in the best interest of the project, you’ll find most managers won’t have a problem with you adapting things to best fit the work.
Having said all that, “success” is a very culturally-driven concept, and what successful project managers look like in my organization won’t be the same as in yours. The best way to check out what your business thinks successful project managers look like is to look around you. Who do you see who is considered a success by their team and manager? Those are the people who you want to be keeping an eye on. Watch how they work, how they involve others and how they motivate their teams. See what behaviors you can copy.
You don’t want to be a clone of them, but you can definitely learn from other experienced professionals in your organization.
This article was written by Elizabeth Harrin.
Elizabeth Harrin is the creator of A Girl’s Guide to Project Management, which she started in 2006. She has won a number of awards for her internationally popular blog: "A Girl's Guide To Project Management." She also authors two additional blogs, regularly featuring interviews she conducts with industry experts: "Talking Work," and "The Money Files," on Gantthead.