The role of the project manager is of critical importance when running a large project. Their performance impacts the success of a project more than any other team member involved. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the individual appointed to the role possesses the necessary skills and abilities to run a project successfully. A talented project manager will possess the following defining qualities.
Communication is one of the most important skills in life and in your professional career. It is the means by which we convey our ideas and receive information from others. Our ability to do so will impact how effectively others can receive and understand the information we give them. A project manager must be able to communicate effectively between all parties involved. It is also critical to understand how to deal with different types of people with dissimilar viewpoints and goals to our own.
The project manager is the point of contact between the client, vendors, and their own company, so it is important that they act as a central point of contact. The precursor to most conflicts is a breakdown in communication. The conditions under which projects are run can be a very stressful for all involved, so project managers have to be able to deal with many complex situations with people who may be emotional and have differing perspectives to their own.
Time management is essential to success in both life and professionally. The ability to time manage effectively will lead to reduced stress, completion of goals and deadlines, lead to greater efficiency, and most importantly, allow you to retain your personal life.
When I was completing my Engineering Degree at University, I always completed my assignments and exam study ahead of schedule. Instead of cramming in all the work the night before and stressing out as most do, I consistently worked on my studies 3 hours each day, regardless of what time of year. This allowed me to produce a higher level of work and achieve greater marks than those who did it all the night before. By the time of any exam, I was confident I did my best to study, was fresh, and well prepared to handle the task at hand.
It was also important I had a time buffer in case something unexpected happened. By keeping ahead of schedule and giving myself that buffer, it lead to less stress. I was able to work more efficiently, achieved higher marks, and still had time to relax and enjoy my life.
As important as time management was to me as a student, it is equally important to the project manager. When deadlines are not met, and the work involved is not planned over an extended period or kept in check, this will lead to stress and inefficiency. This negatively affects both your professional and personal life. There may also be financially negative implications when targets are not met during projects. Ineffective time management can also degrade the relationship between a project manager and the customer. Thus, it is of vital importance that the project timeline is effectively managed.
It is important to be well versed and knowledgeable in the field you are working in. One cannot effectively manage a project they have no knowledge or awareness about. You must understand every facet of the project including the system design and the steps involved in conducting the project. The more knowledgeable project managers become, the more effectively they will be able to manage projects and the more aware they will be of problems that can occur.
In order to obtain a greater level of knowledge, it is important to spend time with experienced people–preferably a mentor–who are willing to share their knowledge with you. As your experience with projects grow, you will also have the opportunity to watch and learn the intricacies involved in project management.
If my time during University or my role as a project engineer taught me anything, it is to be able to adapt to any situation. The analogy of sink or swim applies to the role of a project manager. If you are not able to learn quickly and independently, make decisive decisions under pressure, or adapt to situations which are unexpected or outside of your comfort zone, you will be destined for failure as a project manager. It is important to possess the skills necessary to be dynamic and deal with any situation that may occur.