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What Makes a Good Project Manager?

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I think the mark of a good project manager starts with how they manage projects.

In April, the Institute of Taiwanese Project Management gave out its first 10 Outstanding Chinese Project Managers awards. The winners and candidates were examples of what defines a good project manager.
 
In general, most of the project managers who caught the selection board's attention managed efforts that were:

•    Completed within budget and on time, sticking to their scope and quality
•    In line with the client company's business objectives or ambitions
•    A benefit to the economy, society or local community

Good project managers also have commitment and determination -- a common characteristic of the 10 award winners. Their background, education and work history all showed they were individuals who, when they committed to doing something, would do all that was possible to get the work completed, even when others wanted to give up.

I also realized during the award-selection process that good project managers are a driving force in our society. Their constant, ongoing completion of projects keeps our economy active and competitive.

Whether these are large telecom projects (such as the installation of China's countrywide broadband network) or smaller ecology projects (such as reducing the carbon emissions of homes or businesses), the project managers leading these efforts are all doing important work that improves our society and our economy.

It is only through their planning, execution and management skills, as well as their commitment and determination, that any project can be completed efficiently and effectively.

If you know excellent project managers who deserve to be recognized, consider nominating them in next year's PMI Professional Awards.

To all you project managers silently toiling away -- possibly thinking "these awards have nothing to do with me!" -- I would like to praise your work: You are the real driving force in society. Never underestimate how important your contribution is!
 

 

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35 Comments

Project managers need good communication and organization skills. They also need to be able to anticipate project needs. Finally, they need to be pragmatic when making decisions and empathetic to their stakeholders.

A project manager is a manager who has the ability to communicate with his team in a wise and flexible way. Who can integrate spirit of motivation, productivity and creativity without pushing them to seek for special personal goals, but as team task. He must have the strength to overpass any dramatic situations without effecting the project and organization, however, he must have a perspective regarding any risk. A successful project manager plans, organizes and monitors his project to achieve the goal.

Good project managers are organized, disciplined, studied and deadline-driven. They’re able to orchestrate the activities of lots of different people, balance competing priorities and juggle many activities simultaneously. Most importantly, they are service oriented, always maintain integrity, take ownership and pride in the projects they manage.

To me a good project manager should have/be following:

1. Good leadership skills
2. Team player and a great motivator
3. Soft skills
4. Maintain strong partnership with all the stakeholders (sponsor, customer, project team...)
5. Understands the business needs (including hidden needs)
6. Provides flexibility to the team within the project limits
7. Very consistent and organized
8. Ensures project communications are superior
9. Reviews any project risks and takes proper actions to mitigate the risk

There are many more....

Any PM that can create, present, and have their management believe 100% in the status of their P.O.L. report(s).

A Great thread and right posts, just want to add that PM should have good visualization power as well to go with excellent people skill for projects to be completed in time with quality for the given scope.

Good project managers deliver project within scope, cost and schedule. The success of the project is the contribution of every single person in the project team. Project manager is the one that lead the team in achieving the goal, milestone and objective.

A never say die attitude in information management/information technology projects can and has lead to a death march. This generally indicates tunnel vision and a lack of flexibility and broad thinking skills.

The result: the project is cancelled and results in career limitation for the project manager.

The key attributes of a great project manager in my view are soft skills, broad thinking and flexibility with a business orientation. Tenacity within this skills framework is also key.

All of the attributes mentioned are definitely characteristics of successful project managers.

I would add that successful project managers also exhibit the following:

Team selection & team building expertise
Disciplined insistence upon PM essentials
Facilitation & consensus building
Leadership by example
Mentoring
Communications
Organization
Inter-personal skills

Some traits of a good Project Manager:

Involve all stakeholders from the initial phase of the project
Keep track of the tipple constant
Can identify opportunity from potential risks.
Has project relevant technical / domain knowledge
Leadership by example
Plan for contingency and keep track on watch list
Showcase team performance and implement rewards / recognitions system
Set up a effective communication channel
Has excellent negotiation skills and seek for win-win solution

However all the above depends on the type of organization he is working.

I totally agree. A lot goes into becoming a good project manager.

Editors’ note: on June 8, a few commenters’ names were lost due to human error. We deeply apologize.

A project manager must be able to boost team morale, esprit de corps. Then make sure there's no Parkinson's Law, no "student syndrome." Also, help team members to balance life and work to get both a healthy run project and healthy body. :)

Editors’ note: on June 8, a few commenters’ names were lost due to human error. We deeply apologize.

Change is inevitable, and any project will have changes. Project managers should anticipate, be prepared, accommodate and live with the changes.

Editors’ note: on June 8, a few commenters’ names were lost due to human error. We deeply apologize.

This is what makes a good project manager:

- Excellent communication skills
- Being proactive
- Listening skills

Editors’ note: on June 8, a few commenters’ names were lost due to human error. We deeply apologize.

A good project must have the strong leadership skills and people management.
Another contributing factor could be the skills of the project managers to build cohesive and effective teams that enabled team members to perform their tasks.

I think these awards were given based on the symptoms of good project management or the outcomes of it, which is logical and rational I must say. But, what made these projects succeed is the real characteristics of a good PM. The award winners might have good sponsorship support, lucky to face less risks, understanding and cooperative stakeholders, but all these are external factors, what about the project manager him/herself, what makes him/her a good or a great one.

From my humble experience, and since most of the PM work depends mostly on soft skills, leadership and communications, I could say that one of the greatest attributes of a great PM is patience, Yes, because ultimately you are dealing with all types of people, and many people are hard!

Good Article on Project Manager

Good Project Managers must have not only good managerial skills but good leadership skills are needed. This includes communication, interpersonal and motivational skills. Leading skills also need passion and ability to work with all levels and types of people.

I believe successful Project Managers are
1. Wide minded with wide thought process irrespective of senior or junior
2. Dynamic in nature i.e ready to accept changes
3. Good by heart and
4. Good in communication across the managerial levels

I think a good project manager is someone with a never say die attitude, who is able to engage with every level of stakeholders, good strategic and business skills.

I concur with Ken Farnes's June 12, 2010 12:17 AM view.
A PM's best asset is his business management skills and competencies in an uncertain environment. Because a project is unique, you will all understand with me that how he integrates business with his environment matters. Understanding the stakeholders involved in the project and making sure he understands each of their requirements.

I agree with the characteristics that contribute to being a successful project manager. Certainly great leadership skills, the ability to keep teams motivated to complete projects and keeping the customers happy are of vital importance too.

The management of the people is very important. The Project Manager should have this skill or gift for to conduce a team with different ideas.

Nice post. Strongly agree that a successful project manager impacts success, directly to his engagements, and indirectly to the entire society.

I believe the project manager should: Understand the value in it to be able to juggle with the classic project management constraints; build a cohesive team; understand the value of information to clear up and navigate large strings of communication channels; display an attitude of respect toward the client delivering what was requested on time, within quality and within budget terms.

I think you missed one of the most important points - a good project manager is FIRST a good (business) manager and exhibits good (business) management skills and competencies in an uncertain environment.

Their domain of expertise just happens to be in the project management disciplines and not in HR or Finance or another business or technical discipline, which by the way, they may also be skilled at. The "higher" you go in managing projects, the more important the business skills are.

When things go badly, how can you be sure that the project plan is at fault and not the execution of the plan?

I think a good project manager has good management and interpersonal skills. These skills are very important to the success of any project.

Project managers also need to be flexible and have a willingness to adapt.

I think IT project management is a different kind of project management compared to others. Here, the team is most important and the toughest to handle. Hence it is challenging to tackle the constraints right away. A project is finished under the budget and before time within the scope, and quality always creates a jubilant mood in the IT sector.

I do not believe that delivery within scope and budget is necessarily a prerequisite for a good project manager. As an example, I have witnessed an organization that utilizes one of their best as a troubleshooter who is tasked with being inserted into troubled programs and projects in order to complete the task with minimal damage to all stakeholders.

This person is able to perform miracles with the client, the customer and the organization; is capable of tackling the most difficult of tasks on any project anywhere on the planet; and is one of the best in the business. This person, however, is never associated with a project that is delivered within scope, budget or stakeholder objectives.

It is valid if the project manager is fortunate enough to be involved from the very concept and remains until the bitter end, however, this is not usually the case in many projects.

Roger Chou identified some of the major reasons for the success of the project managers and their selection for awards. Another contributing factor might be the skills of the project managers to build cohesive and effective teams that enabled team members to perform their tasks.

Great project managers are always characterized by how well they manage changes within a project life cycle. A project will never be able to meet all the three constraints, as stakeholder needs and wants are have their own influence.

Thanks for the words of encouragement and recognizing the contribution PMs make in our world.

Very nice post.

I think that a good project manager is not only someone who manages the project within budget and with respect to the deadline, quality required and objectives, but someone who masters people management as well.

Depending on the cultural environment, it’s vital to know how to manage your team and build the right vision that allows the project success and the achievement of the objectives.

Great voice on PM

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