Project managers and their 6 key characteristics


A wonderful way to improve the efficacy of your project management is to emulate those titans of business you admire most. When you make their characteristics part and parcel of your project management ethos, you will share their success. Here are the six of the most common and important characteristics of my favorite project managers.

Great Project Managers Plan for Every Contingency

Sure, you have a basic outline for how the project will progress, but great project managers always go a step further. While they plan every detail of their upcoming project, they understand that things don’t always go as planned. An essential habit to practice is to brainstorm about possible problems and decide beforehand what action you can take. This will mean that every member of your team is prepared for every eventuality, problem and emergency.

Projects rarely go as planned, so astute project managers will have regular meetings to update and alter planning to fit the ever-changing landscape. Having an inflexible plan will not result in success; flexibility means you can adapt to changing circumstances to ensure the best outcome.

Be organized

Sure, this may seem intuitive, but it’s absolutely critical. If you are not naturally an organized person, then work hard to make this a habit. Don’t be afraid to ask for help getting organized and then set up structures and routines that will keep you on top of your game. Being a great project manager requires excellent organizational skills as you have to juggle so many players to manage your project successfully.

One of the most important aspects of being an organized project manager is being able to prioritize your tasks. Several times a day, reevaluate your tasks and organize them from the most urgent to the least. Ensure that your team does the same so that the most crucial tasks are completed first, resulting in a constant work flow and avoiding hold-ups and down time. Make being organized one of your most valuable project management characteristics if you want to stay on top of the workflow.

Be an excellent communicator

All successful project managers understand that effective communication is the only way to ensure the success of a project. Project managers who are effective communicators are able to clearly outline what each member of their team should be doing and the time frames for each task.

You should then check in about halfway through the task to ensure that it is on track and then again just before delivery. Comprehensive project managers are also able to deliver praise or constructive criticism when tasks are completed.

As a project manager, being an effective communicator also means that you are open to suggestions, comments, complaints and updates every day. Keeping the channels of communication open between you and your team will help to ensure that problems are dealt with effectively and that the project remains on track.

Be a good example

The most effective strategy for good leadership is to be a good example. As the project manager, you set the tone for the rest of the team. Be respectful, be diligent, be on time and be open to the ideas of others. When you expect more from your team than you are willing to give, they will become resentful of you.

Be positive

Successful project managers are positive and enthusiastic. When you only focus on the negative aspects and on what is going wrong, your team will be demoralized. Praising good work, showing appreciation, focusing on solutions rather than problems are all ways in which you can inspire and motivate your team.

Don’t play the blame game when something goes wrong. While team members need to be accountable, this is a topic for performance appraisals. When you hit a snag, focus on finding solutions. Even if you ask the team member responsible for the problem to be part of the solution, staying positive is an essential characteristic of the competent project manager.

Don’t micro-manage

You’ve heard this before, but being a great project manager means you just can’t do everything yourself. When you look over the shoulders of your colleagues, they will feel like you don’t trust them or think them incompetent. It’s very difficult for team members to take ownership if their project manager is always micro-managing. Good project managers will assign tasks, set desired outcomes and time limits and then leave their team to work independently.