In the past, I’ve presented several articles on what I think it takes to be successful as a project manager including the characteristics of a successful project manager. I was recently looking over a book entitled “10 Minute Guide to Project Management” and found yet another take on a list of ways to succeed in project management.

This is a list of seven ways to succeed as a project manager.  As always, I’m very interested in your feedback and any items you think should be added to the list.

Next up – seven ways to fail as a project manager…. but first, let’s look at the ways to succeed.

#1 - Learn to use project management tools effectively

project management

Such a variety of great project managing software tools exist today that it is not at all wise to proceed in a project of any type of complexity without having a rudimentary understanding of available software tools, if not an intermediate to advanced understanding of them. Project management tools today can be of such enormous aid that they can mean the difference between a project succeeding or failing.

#2 - Be able to give and receive criticism

giving receiving criticism

Giving criticism effectively is not easy. There is a fine line between upsetting a team member's day and offering constructive feedback that will help the team member and help the project. Likewise, the ability to receive criticism is crucial for project managers.

As the old saying goes, it is easy to avoid criticism: Say nothing, do nothing, and be nothing. If you are going to move mountains, you are going to have to accept a little flack.

#3 - Be receptive to new procedures

new procedures

You don't know everything, and that’s good. Team members, other project managers, and those who authorize the project, to begin with, can provide valuable input, including new directions and new procedures. Be open to them, because you just might find a way to slash $20,000 and three months off of your project cost.

#4 - Manage your time well

time management

Speaking of time, if you personally are not organized, dawdle on low-level issues, and find yourself perpetually racing the clock, how are you going to manage your project, a project team, and achieve the desired outcome on time and on a budget?

#5 - Be effective at conducting meetings

constructive meeting

Meetings are a necessary evil in the event of completing projects, with the exception of solo projects. Be efficient when running meetings and only call necessary meetings.  Time-wasting meetings will cause your project resources to lose interest and question your leadership.

#6 - Polish your decision-making skills

decision making skills

As a project manager, you won't have the luxury of sitting on the fence for very long in relation to issues crucial to the success of your project. Moreover, your staff looks to you for yes, no, left, and right decisions. If you waffle here and there, you are giving the signal that you are not really in control. As with other things in project management, decision-making is a skill that can be learned. However, the chances are high that you already have the decision-making capability that you need. It is why you were chosen to manage this project to begin with. It is also why you have been able to achieve what you have in your career up to this point.

Trusting yourself is a vital component to effective project management.

#7 - Maintain a sense of humor

sense of humor

Stuff is going to go wrong, things are going to happen out of the blue, the weird and the wonderful are going to pass your way. You have to maintain a sense of humor so that you don't do damage to your health, to your team, to your organization, and to the project itself.