What is it that takes someone from the level of being good at managing projects, to being truly great?
There’s more to the answer than just streamlining schedules, delegating tasks, and balancing the budget. The best project managers are skilled collaborators; showcasing negotiation and evaluation skills, along with agility and strategy every single day. They understand how to keep moral high and move projects forward; they know their goals, are in line with the strategic vision of the customer, and commit themselves to moving towards the successful outcome with their team.
Here’s what separates the good project managers from the great ones.
A good project manager handles scheduling, production, and communication. A great project manager involves themselves in building team skills and executing the strategic vision.
Ernest Hemingway put it best when he said to never mistake motion for action. This is true for project managers as well. The best ones are able to adapt as information changes. They understand how to push their team members to be their best, and when they should encourage the team rather than just push them. The best project managers keep their calm, moving decisively with the team. They know the only constant is change. The modern project manager is agile and flexible enough to make sudden iterations while still ensuring incremental progress is made towards goals.
A good project manager will stay on track. A great project manager understands these tracks could have unexpected curves, and are able to respond in real-time.
A good project manager understands that the main priority of the project is to help in the success of products and customers. They also acknowledge that the definition of “success” could change over time. A great project manager knows there is a higher purpose to the administrative details of the project. They regularly look up from the plan and consider the strategic view in the long-term.
A good project manager worries about getting things done on time. A great project manager understands that, in order to succeed, they need to collaborate, negotiate, and solve problems.
The best project managers have great bargaining skills, and are adapt at collaborating and negotiating to achieve the goals of the oorganization They are masters of the four phases of negotiation:
- Preparation (putting together the docs, data, and facts for presenting the case)
- Disclosing the information to the team and interested parties
- Bargaining with a focus on common objectives and interests
- Closure (ensuring everyone is on board)
A good project manager worries about the outcomes. A great project manager is adept at problem solving, and understands how to reach their goals.
A great project manager understands the project challenges. They are able to assess situations where they have to make a decision, and will know how to ask the right questions to make the right choices. They come up with alternative solutions by evaluating and collaborating to pick the best option without the need for second guessing or drama.
A good project manager has a talented team. A great project manager understands “the art of people”; and how to make the best use of each individual’s skills at the perfect time.
A collaborative project manager understands how they can use the talents of their team members, and can use the expertise of the people around them to find resolutions to specific problems. Great project managers understand bringing everyone into the strategic vision of the project creates the best teamwork. They know that aligning everyone like this is the key to effective communication and successfully completing a project.
A great project manager has experience, the right tools and skills, and have great habits. They know how to get things done.