An organization plans for a project with specific objectives and targeted results in mind. Some organizations may have a fixed project team with a project manager, whereas, some organizations will appoint their existing functional managers to take up projects. A project manager should possess some key skills to lead a project.
Communication Skill – A project manager should have good communication skill. A project can fail miserably if there are communication gaps. Communication is crucial right from the start of the project. A project manager should have good listening skills and also be able to comprehend information quickly. At the initial stage of a project, a project manager should have the ability to understand the objectives of a project. A project manager should have a clear understanding of what the client or stakeholders want to achieve with the project. Without being able to understand the objective and the results expected from the project, a project manager cannot proceed with working on the project. A project manager should be able to communicate what is required of the team members. Listening to the team member's ideas as well as grievances are critical for a project. A project manager should be clear in informing the clients about the progress of the project at every stage as well as motivate the team and give directions to them at every stage.
Time Management – Scheduling and managing different functions on time is the key to run and finish a project on time. It is crucial to organize the tasks and prioritize them. A project manager should delegate tasks to team members and give them a deadline to finish the work on time. A project manager should monitor if the work is being done and will be completed on the stipulated time to avoid any last minute hiccups.
Analytical Skills–A project manager should possess the skill of analyzing everything to reach the desired results. When a project manager starts working on a project, analysis has to be made to understand the risk involved, the changes it will bring about in the organization, budget involved in the project, market changes, and the impacts of the end result of the project. If a manager fails to analyze the various factors involved in the success of a project, the project will fail.
Teamwork– A project is teamwork. The group of employees with the right skill set and passion come together to achieve the targeted result. A project manager should have the capability to understand team member’s strengths and weaknesses and allot work accordingly. If work is allotted according to their strengths, it is easy to achieve the desired results.
Leadership & Risk Management – Leadership quality is important for all managers and a project manager is no exception. A project manager should be able to lead his team members till the end of the project without any conflicts. Even if there is a conflict, a project manager should be able to handle and sort it out without impacting productivity. There are times, a project manager has to negotiate with stakeholders and vendors, and they will be required to be assertive to get his/her work done for the success of the project.
Every project has a certain amount of risk involved. A project manager should be able to identify the risks involved in every project. The decisions or changes made during a project may have adverse effects on the working of a project. If a project manager fails to identify the negative impacts, the project may fail or come to a standstill. It is important for a project manager to be able to analyze the risk involved in a project to overcome them.
Handling Stress – A project manager should be able to handle stress. A project is completely on the shoulders of the project manager. Whether a project is a success or failure, a project manager will be responsible for the results. It is a role where stress involved is quite high. To take on each day with the same zest and zeal, a project manager has to have 8 hours of sleep every night. It is important to sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillow for a good night’s sleep. Otherwise, it will lead to disturbed sleep and will impact negatively at work.
Speed reading – Many people have poor reading habits. A project manager has to read an insanely good number of emails, legal documents and business case studies for his/her project. A project manager may not have the luxury of time to spend hours on reading. Also, spending hours on reading emails and documents will impact productivity and time management. Time is crucial for any project, so managing reading time is also important. A project manager should have the skill to read at a faster rate than the normal reading speed. The normal speed of reading is 200 to 250 words per minute. A person with speed reading skill can read around 400 to 1200 words per minute. A manager should be able to read at least 600 to 900 words per minute. There are various techniques to learn speed reading. A project manager can practice speed reading through skimming or scanning through a document, avoid vision regression, avoid long pauses while reading, and avoid sub-vocalization.
Subject Matter Expert – A project manager should know the products/services of his/her organization. Only if they knows the product well, then they will be able to make profitable and wise decisions for the project. To conduct meetings and discussions about the product/services with vendors, stakeholders, clients, and team members, a project manager should know his/her product in and out. Without knowing the product, the project will be a failure.
Quality Management – A project manager with an efficient team can finish a project in a stipulated time. However, the quality of the result is as important as finishing a project on time. If the result achieved is subpar, the success of the project is short lived.
Sleep: Another important aspect when it comes to improving your overall productivity and increasing your project management skills is getting good sleep. A person who has 8 hours of sleep has a huge advantage over others when it comes to having an alert mind which results in better communication and quick issue resolution. In today’s fast paced world we can’t expect to have enough time to sleep but you can make that up by choosing a good mattress, ensuring that you sleep at regular hours and avoid checking your phone a minimum of one hour before you sleep.
A project manager has to possess all these qualities to be successful in leading a project. They has to lead a team with efficiency and achieve targeted results. It is a challenging role to be a project manager. The success of a project impacts the working of an organization. It has a strong impact on the budget, profits, and productivity of an organization. A client or stakeholder will appoint you as a project manager only if they see the skills in you to be a successful project manager. It is important for a project manager to constantly work on improving their skill and knowledge.
Author: Jimmy Cowan, myspeedreading.com