By Garry Brinton, Contributing Columnist
At the beginning of the PSMJ Project Management Bootcamps the attendees usually list the traits of a good project manager. The list contains the typical references to technical knowledge but what is surprising is that the vast majority of the traits relate to soft skills such as good listening and good communication.
In my mind many of these soft skills may make a good project administrator but not a great project manager. A top project manager exhibits these behaviors:
- Decidedly independent thinking – everything is subjected to a reality check.
- Practical, workable ideas – when you need them.
- Innovative – with your gain in mind.
- Confident without arrogance – can put people at ease.
- Proactive – no surprises for you.
- Honest – about what can and will be delivered.
- Finishes strong – passionate and organized up to the end.
- Instills a willingness for collaboration – by every member of the project team.
This article addresses the second four behaviors.
5. Proactive, with no surprises
There is the old saying – “No project goes smoothly and yours will not be the first.” The knowledge and experience of top project managers enable them to effectively anticipate problems and have contingency plans in place. They also don’t hide from problems and make certain that clients learn about problems first from them.
Top project managers recognize their weaknesses and those of their team. They do not try to deceitfully “over-promise and under-deliver.” They know what they are capable of achieving, and they are direct with their clients. They accept that mistakes are part of a learning process, and they even have a penchant for overcoming adversity.
7. Finishes strong
At the beginning of a project everyone is excited. Project managers at this point initially concentrate on setting up communication and documentation processes. At the end of the project there is the inevitable punch list (outstanding issues and problems). Rather than thinking about the next project, a top project manager is intently focused on resolving those punch list items as quickly as possible.
8. Instills a willingness for collaboration
Given the complexity and demands of most projects, there is usually a team of individuals involved. The contribution of everyone, including the client, is important to the success of the project. T op project managers nurture a close relationship with team members. They lavish praise and even accept the blame for failure. These actions inspire the team members to work together and, in many cases, work harder than anticipated.
Article written by and courtesy of Garry Brinton, CFM. Mr. Brinton is Principal of FP+A, Inc. located in Harrisburg, PA. (717) 221-9700 firstname.lastname@example.org