Attributes that make a Project Manager successful?

According to this article, successful project managers are those who can deliver their projects on time, within budget, meet or exceed the stakeholders’ expectations and who can successfully supervise the project. These kinds of managers know how to bring together all the stakeholders in the project, and lead the team to meet its goals. In addition, they know that leadership and people skills are an important attribute. If the project manager doesn’t understand the stakeholders, even if they deliver within budget they may not be meeting their client’s needs. Below are a list of attributes the author suggests a project manager should have in order to be successful.

1. Set a Clear Vision
Project managers should have a clear vision of the direction they are heading; commit to this vision and find ways of achieving it.

2. Be Organized
Organization is an important characteristic of a great project manager. He/she needs to prioritize the work for their team, stay focused on the big picture, and stay in control of the project at all times.

3. Be Honest and Reliable
Project managers should mean what they say; fulfill their promises, and hold team members accountable. By doing so, the team will respect the manager’s integrity.

4. Become a Natural Leader
Project managers should be optimistic leaders who are highly valued by their company. They should have the ability to influence and interact with stakeholders, and the ability to improve their team’s performance by encouraging participation so they can reach their milestones.

5. Be a Good Communicator
The project manager should have a clear vision of the project before they communicate so they can explain it in a simple way and it can be understood. They should be able to listen to the client, and prepare a plan to achieve their goals. He/she can use emails, reports, and meetings to effectively share their ideas, make decisions and bring resolution.

6. Understand Business Strategy
A project manager should understand their company’s strategy, and see how his/her project aligns with the overall strategy. He/she should be able to look beyond the skills needed to manage projects and understand the company’s business.

7. Be Pragmatic
A project manager should be flexible, and be able to meet deadlines and budgets when things do not go as planned. They should share their experience with others on how they were able to overcome obstacles with the resources they had.

8. Have Enthusiasm
The project manager should demonstrate confidence in their team, and provide an encouraging environment. He/she should trust their team, and provide the support necessary for them to succeed.

9. Be Empathetic
A good project manager needs to understand the stakeholders concerns about a project and address them. By understanding what motivates their stakeholders they will be able to influence others to complete the job.

The author states several attributes of a good project manager. Are there any additional attributes you feel a project manager should have?



Strategic Project Management

One of the skills that every corporate executive could have is project management, but SURELY every project manager should master the art of strategy.

As our project management class unfolds, I became more convinced that we cannot design or execute projects without the proper alignment of our objectives and resources as Project Managers with our corporate strategy. After all, projects are initiated to achieve business results. Projects should then not only be managed from the operational aspect but from the business aspect as well. Getting the job done does not seem enough anymore, rather getting the Right job done is what is needed. This mindset does not come to cancel the existing ways of doing projects but to expand the projects meaning and give them a broader reason.

To help build the Project strategy one has to identify to following projects components:

  • Perspective “Why”: Defines the reason and the motivation for the project, as well the need, environment and business opportunity. This will help understand the big picture and creates motivation among the staff.
  • Position “What”: Defines the end product of the project which will be delivered to the customer or users. How could this project contributes to our product, and why the customer will buy our product and why our product is better than what is available on the market
  • Plan “How”: This part of the project strategy explains how the objectives and competitive advantage are going to be achieved. At this level statement of work (SOW) and work break down structure (WBS), Project Matrix are developed. Shall a company want to be a first-mover, “time” will then have to be a constraint and delays cannot be accepted. On the other side if a company has the objective of being a cost leader, PM working on product design teams have to ensure that “cost” is a constraint as failing to be a cost leader might put the company’s competitive advantage under threat.

In the recent increase of project based companies, this skill has become inevitable for PM. Projects objectives seem to be giving a project its short term meaning, but its alignment with the strategy extends that meaning to a longer term.

Avoiding this truth can only lead the project to failing to add real value and build a sustainable business model.

Recently i have been involved in several retail store construction projects where it was clarified to us since the early stages of the works that time is our constraint. Opening according to the set deadlines was crucial for our company not only to meet its commitments with the landlord and franchisor but also to remain ahead or aligned with the competition.

Do you agree that projects managers should dispose of great strategic skills? Do you have any project, according to your opinion, being executed without being relevant to the company strategy?

Patanakul, P., & Shenhar, A. J. (2012). What project strategy really is: The fundamental building block in strategic project management. Project Management Journal43(1), 4-20. doi:10.1002/pmj.20282

Project Strategy Components

How to Hire A Great Project Manager

'Among my many talents, not shown on my resume, is that I can say 'multivarient transformative interactive analytical heterogenacity in management leadership' three times fast.'


Hiring good project managers is critical to any business’ success, yet so many companies are going about hiring them in all the wrong ways. Russell Harley provides us with five simple, cost-effective ways to ensure you are hiring the right project manager for your business. Picking the right or wrong applicant for your company’s needs can make or break your company. If hirers take these five simple measures- they will be far more likely to hire a great project manager that will better the company.

Stop Using Generic Job Descriptions

It seems as though every job description/qualifications section for a project manager job application is a broad template that could be applied to just about any position or company. “Must have good communication skills,” “Be a self-starter,” and “Work well with teams” are all examples of what you will see in just about every job description for a project manager position. In order to find the right person for the position- these need to be more specific to what the company values and expects from the candidate. Such broad language will invite hoards of applications into your inbox, turning your hiring process into a “needle in a haystack” type of task. You are more likely to get responses from project managers that are a good fit for your company when you clearly specify what is expected of the person. Not only will these generic job descriptions hinder your company’s hiring process, but is also not fair for the applicant to come into a position that they are not prepared/qualified for.

Decide Exactly What You Need

Doing this is really just another way to narrow down your pool of applicants. Prepare an in-depth analysis of what aspects of your company struggles with and needs improvement. For example, if your company is struggling with the adoption of a new type of software, ask for knowledge and experience using that specific type of software. This will cut down on training time/costs and help your company operate more efficiently.

Critical Projects Need Dedicated Project Managers

With cost-cutting being a reoccurring measure taken by almost all companies- it is important to get the most bang for your buck when hiring a project manager. Sure, the overseeing and delegation aspect of project management is very important, but you also want a project manager that is willing help out with the workload. Having a project manager that is willing to get his hands dirty will earn the respect of team members and increase efficiency. Make sure to find a project manager that doesn’t want to just sit a desk all day; find one that is willing to do whatever it takes get a project done the most efficient way possible.

If You Need a Specific Methodology Used, Say So

Some project managers favor certain methods for getting a project done and not all of them will work for what you need done. Make sure you know what methods of management your employees respond best to and that the project manager you hire is familiar and experienced with those methods. Using a methodology that your employees do not respond well too can cause a project to fail quicker than almost anything.

Eliminate the Essay Questions

 It is very common for companies to ask for written responses from job candidates answering questions like “What makes you a good leader?” Nine times out of ten you are going to get a fluffed up response with little merit. Going through all of these responses can be a lengthy, time-consuming process. Look to their experience and references- that should answer just about any essay question you are thinking about putting on an application.

Do you agree/disagree with Harley’s suggested practices in the project manager hiring process?

Thanks for reading.

Project Management Lessons Learned in the Kitchen

I came across the article “Project Management Lessons Learned in the Kitchen” and found it very interesting after reading it.

The article is intriguing in a way that it relates a good cook to a good project manager.  It talks about areas that both a PM and a Cook need to focus on in order to get their task done correctly and lists them in steps.

  • A cook needs to read the recipe all the way through and a good PM also needs to make sure they understand the requirements and guidelines so they know what the expected final product should be like.
  •  A cook needs to do things in certain order similar to a PM.  You can’t do everything all at once and some things have to happen before others.
  • A cook has to watch the clock to make sure nothing is over or under cooked.  A PM also has to make sure they watch the clock and ensure the work is done in the time promised.
  • Both have to make sure to not over commit.  Over committing for a cook can cause them to include too many ingredients which end up costing too much.  Over committing for a PM could end up hurting the end product as you might have committed to doing too much work in too little time.
  • Filling in the gaps is an important part of both roles as well.  A cook will start stirring or preparing another item while one dish is in the oven or on the stove.  A good PM needs to do the same thing.  It is important that the time is used wisely and assigned to getting the things that you were putting off done.

The reason I found this article to be interesting is that I would have never thought of those two tasks to be so similar.  Often at my work I find people not using the above steps in their process.  Sometimes our PM’s don’t read all the requirements or guidelines from the clients only to find out very close to the end that the end result is not what the client was exactly looking for.  PM’s will also lose track of the clock or days in the project world as they get busy with other work not realizing they are too close to the deadline with more work than anticipated remaining.  Overcommitting is often a common problem in our industry as you have multiple companies and salesman that bid for the same job.  Often our salesmen overcommit to what we can provide only to result in the company not making the expected margin on the project or having an unsatisfied client.

This is an interesting article for all those in the project management world to read as everyone can easily relate a project to cooking and once people realize that just like cooking has to be done in steps, so does a project!

Article – Project Management Lessons Learned in the Kitchen

Project Coach

coaching-word-cloud I was curious to learn what truly makes a good project manager. Should they know all the ins-and-outs of the project details?  Should they be the expert in the field?  Do they need to be up to date with the newest PM systems? As I read different articles highlighting the skills of a good project manager I couldn’t help but see that these are all the skills of a good coach.

I love analogies so, in the spirit of baseball season, I’ll reiterate the best tips I found referencing both baseball and project management terminology.

When beginning a project or season it’s important to build the structure and confidence of your team:

  • Help people learn and develop: If anyone of your team is not walking in with all necessary skills, as the PM or coach it’s important you get them up to speed.
  • Delegate step-by-step: Clear direction is need on a project as well as on the field.
  • Focus on people’s strengths: Know your team members’ skill sets and place them accordingly.
  • Be supportive: In both roles you should always know what is going on with your team members, remove obstacles, and support them to reach their goals.
  • Embrace failure: “My ability to achieve all my goals is a direct reflection of my ability to overcome all my failures…It’s ok to fail, but you should never quit” (Marcus Luttrell). A lesson can be learned from every loss on the field or failed project. There is always something to be learned.

Building team collaboration was another central theme. Again, all suggestions are necessary skills of a good coach:

  • Aggregate and adapt: Both a good coach and PM should bring ideas to the table, but also be able to adapt to new developments or situations and weave these into their game plan.
  • Listen first: Successful coaches and PMs have a sense of their people, what they are capable of, and then give them space to achieve those results.
  • Energize: No energy around a project or among a team is a quick road to a loss.
  • Remain open:  At times you’ll need to shuffle the lineup, swap positions on the field, or test out new skill set on a project. Without openness and flexibility, you may not be achieving the best results possible.
  • Be transparent: It’s curial for a good coach and PM to provide clear expectations and constant direct communication.
  • Have fun: Enjoyment builds team spirit, drive and collaboration.
  • Transcend insularity: Collaborating as a unit is the only way to fully achieve success.

Both a good coach and a good PM work to build a solid cohesive team and that produces results. When you build a strong team you create stakeholders in the project. This doesn’t mean that they always ‘win’; it means they move forward together and assist one another to achieve a uniform goal. A good coach guides the outcome without ever playing. A skilled Project manager, “bring[s] all aspects of the project together to produce a successful performance and result”(Haughey). Both are aiming for the good of the team and the best possible outcome.

What do you look for in a good project manager?

What do you strive for to be a good project manager ?

What qualities has the best project manager you’ve ever worked with had?
What qualities have your best coaches had?
Are some of these the same? What are the differences?

Do you think that coaching should be necessary skill of a good project manager?