What It Takes to be a Good Project Manager

by / ⠀Career Advice / April 8, 2021

In order to be a good project manager, there are many roles you need to fill. These include being a supporter, complementor, and mentor to team members.

The top two most important skills a project manager should possess, according to a recent survey, are personal skills and skills in dealing with others. 

This means a good project manager knows how to work with people to get the best out of them. 

6 Ways to Be a Good Project Manager 

If you want to be seen as a good project manager that knows how to get the best out of people, then follow these tips and tricks. 

1. Get buy-in from team members. 

One does not do that by being a nudge but by selling the project vision. Your project vision will dictate how the project will help the company and how it will help each team member.

Depending on how team members perform on the project, you can help them receive recognition, give them a nice review, or potentially help them get a promotion. Don’t make empty promises, though. Be a champion for your team members and praise them for a job well done in front of their supervisors and higher ups.  

2. Rely on each team member’s expertise. 

No one is an expert on everything, especially in large and complex projects. Even if you as the project manager have a large amount of knowledge, you will still want to utilize team members to their fullest to accomplish the project objectives.

3. Support and mentor team members. 

While not being the expert on each function and activity, the project manager can provide important insights on approach and progress. They can also provide needed perspective to get an activity accomplished.

A good project manager’s conversation uses phrases like:

  • Explain your thought process.
  • Show me.
  • Why?
  • What are your thoughts?
  • Which things do you think need to be done?
  • What are the alternatives you came up with before making your choice?

 The honest asking of such questions is so important that team members often mention this attribute among the first four qualities they wish to have in their project managers.

4. Model integrity and competence. 

How the project manager conducts themself provides an important model to each team member. While getting the project completed is important, how one conducts themself during the process is extremely important. That sends a clear message as to what conduct will and won’t be tolerated. And for all aspiring project managers, it helps to set each person on the right path.

5. Bring the team together. 

A good team is made up of individuals who have different skill sets that compliment each other. A team of superstars who all try to show off their own skills without jiving with the other members usually does not work out very well. The project manager must help to blend the available talent and get everyone to function as a cohesive unit.

6. Be a great communicator. 

I have written about communication being one of, if not the most, important things needed in a project. This does not mean just telling people things verbally or through memos, reports, or texts. I mean where there is a clear understanding of message sent, message received, and message understood.

A good project manager makes sure all three things happen. If not, they have no one to blame but themselves if things get messed up because of a miscommunication or lack of understanding. And if that person is not a good communicator, how can they expect the team members to be. A good project manager “walks the talk,” especially when it comes to communication.

There are many aspects that a project manager deals with.

While the most important ones are to get the project done on time and on budget and producing the expected and promised results, there is the people factor. That may be the most challenging aspect of the project.

In conclusion, a good project manager must play many roles.

A good project manager knows that they have to play these various roles. They are a coach, mentor, supporter and team builder. All of these things need to be done in balance. Too much of any one thing is not good, especially in projects. All of these in balance are what we should look for in anyone who is or who wants to be a project manager.

About The Author

Peter H. Christian was a founding partner and president of espi, a business consulting firm in Northeastern PA. Previously he was an Executive at Crayola Corporation. He has worked with 300+ clients in business development, profit improvement, operations, IS selection and implementation, and Project Management. He has 40+ years of experience in strategic and facility planning, CI, lean, and supply chain. He has helped companies to realize millions of dollars in cost reductions and profit improvements adding and retaining thousands of jobs. He has authored the Amazon bestselling business books, “What About the Vermin Problem?” and “Influences and Influencers” and is published in a variety of professional magazines.

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