Project Manager – What makes a normal manager into a good project manager?

The project manager is the person responsible for projects from beginning to end.

The basic mechanics of becoming a project manager can be learned and implemented by almost anyone.  But what makes a normal manager into a good project manager?

Actions allow a strong leader to gain the respect of the project team.  Involvement of the team and organization in decision making is a principle action that gives the project manager respect.

Allowing ideas to “bubble up” from all corners of the organization is an important mechanism for the project manager to utilize.  Good ideas often come from those on the “front line” of business every day.

The project manager’s authority and responsibility for the big picture will not be negatively affected by delegating daily tactical decisions.  Team members that have enthusiastic ownership of their ideas will be invested in making it work.

One of the surest ways to secure employee loyalty is recognizing people for their contributions.  Recognition and awards are not necessarily monetary. Sometimes, simple public recognition is enough.

In developing the mission statement, a good project manager will include the team members and others in the process.  Then, having stake in their mission statement, they will follow it.

Organizational success relies in part in having a solid and workable mission statement.  A good mission statement can serve as a basis for decision making.  The mission statement should include all tactical decisions.

A good project manager is a strategic thinker.  The manager needs to be able to maintain a view of the organization’s future, five or ten years down the road.  If the organization sees the manager as lacking direction, the manager could find themselves undermined.

A good manager fights for the team and they know it.  People know that the decisions made by the manager are well thought out and are in the best interest of the organization.

A good project manager is highly selective when building the “culture” the organization.  People hired should “fit” the collective personality of the organization.

Finally, the “good” project manager will spend the extra time to collect the information necessary to show how valuable the project is to the company. This can take any number of forms such as cost savings, cost avoidance, improved process, improved productivity, and so on. Then the project manager makes sure everyone knows about it, from top to bottom. It is vital that the people feel they are important and are making a contribution to the overall success of the company.

Finally, the good project manager has the understanding that the most important thing and most valuable asset is the people.  This manager treats the organization with respect and dignity, and keeps them involved in the project’s progression.

The duties of a good project manager:

1. Business justification: every project should lead to a worthwhile return on investment.

2. Defined roles and responsibilities: everybody working on the project needs to understand the nature of their involvement.

3. Manage by exception: project sponsors should avoid getting too bogged down in the day-to-day running of projects and instead allow the project manager to concentrate on this area.

4. Manage by stages: break the project up into smaller chunks, or stages.

5. Focus on products: it is vital that clients and customers think carefully about the products, or deliverables, they require, before the project begins.

6. Learn from experience: don’t risk making the same mistakes on every project; consider why certain aspects went well or badly, then incorporate the lessons learned into your approach to your next project.

7. Tailor to suit the environment: whatever project management methodology or framework you favor, it must be tailored to suit the needs of your project.

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