Becoming a Project Manager is easy. All you need is to be born with a specific set of skills that would help you work under pressure with complex activities and many tasks piled up in your to-do list. If you’re not that lucky, you will need to do some work and develop these character traits yourself. It won’t be a piece of cake, but definitely, it will be worth it.
Let say you are at the beginning of your career path, wondering, “What would be helpful while becoming a Project Manager?”. Here are a few skills that could be useful.
To consistently deliver projects to a specific deadline, a PM is required to plan well in advance, anticipate risks, and work efficiently with the team. To cope with these tasks, a person in this role must have high organizational skills.
How to keep the project on track?
- Operate on a to-do list and tick off checkboxes to manage your tasks. Add new jobs right away with a short description with necessary details. Use tools like Asana or Trello if you need extra features like separating tasks for specific stages, setting a due date, or having nice background wallpaper.
- Note everything that potentially could be important. It will take the responsibility of remembering everything off your shoulders. You can find out how here.
- Project management software is a must. In most cases, projects are just too big to manage the whole team’s work. Using just a to-do list like these described in No.1 could be not enough. Software like Jira or Monday has plenty of features that can improve your ability to organize work for your team members. You can keep an eye on the roadmap, assign the appropriate tasks, and even check what is left to do to finish your activities.
- Always show up on time at meetings. Don’t waste your team’s or client’s time. It is too precious to burn it so quickly.
Good communication is one of the essential skills, both in professional and personal life. And it’s also one of the areas that limps the most in day-to-day work. But, keep in mind that communication can be developed constantly like any skill, both verbal and written.
The people you will work with are different, and this is a very positive aspect. However, it is worth considering that everyone has another character, talks in a different way, reacts differently. As a person who is in the center of information flow, the Project Manager must learn how to talk to each of its members to ensure that everyone will understand the tasks, objectives, project assumptions, decisions, etc.
It is important to remember that communication is not only about talking. Listening is equally relevant or even more critical. Remember to be entirely focused on your interlocutor and the topic under discussion. Only this way will you engage in a conversation and give it the expected value or result. In my case, I find the use of paraphrases most helpful in active listening. An essential function of this stylistic device is to make sure that the message was received correctly. As I wrote earlier, everyone expresses themselves a little differently. Translating someone’s statement into your own language will help you understand the topic more efficiently and make you believe that you mean the same thing or show that you are talking about two different things. In addition, the interlocutor is assured that you have conveyed what you mean and that the statement has not been omitted. The skill of listening will help you understand others better. As a result, you will avoid misunderstandings, meetings will run more smoothly, you will improve your work culture, and you will find it easier to work together daily.
Who, what, and when should be taken care of. Prioritization is, in my opinion, one of the fundamental skills of every PM. I know from my example that it is not the most effortless skill to master – especially considering the complexity of some of the projects – but when the decisions regarding the order of activities become smooth, the team organization of the team’s work gains a lot.
Eisenhower Matrix is a great help in ordering the tasks according to their importance and the people who should take care of them.
If I were to describe a Project Manager’s profession, these words would be enough – problem-solving. Of course, there are many other, less complex elements such as preparing documentation, conducting meetings with clients, or planning duties. But everything sooner or later comes down to removing obstacles standing in the way of developers, designers or any other person involved in the team.
So if you encounter a problem during the scheme – and this is more than confident – try to focus more on solving it than on the problem itself. Remember that you are not alone. You have a whole team of specialists with you, probably outstanding ones. If you can’t find a solution on your own, take advantage of their knowledge and experience. Have a brainstorming session, and you will surely come up with the right idea. Don’t give up too early. Sometimes the solution comes when you least expect it.
5. Last but not least. Making decisions.
It is significant for people with short work experience. Because of little self-confidence, some of you might feel paralyzed by the fear of making the wrong decision. It is understandable. Consult your ideas, solutions, or concepts with more experienced colleagues on more critical matters. With the smaller ones, try to make decisions on your own. In case of failure, consequences probably won’t be as dire as you might think. You have the right to be wrong. In a chance of success, you build up your confidence and improve your ability to make decisions. It will help you become an independent Project Manager, which will be an immense added value for your team and the whole company in the long term.
Don’t hesitate, act. It is better to make a wrong decision and have a lesson than doing nothing and being stuck in the same place with the same issue all the time.
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Advice for beginners in project management
The responsibilities of a good Project Manager are popular traits known to all people. But having them at the right level is no longer so easy to achieve. Of course, I am not talking about people who have had certain predispositions and opportunities to develop them since childhood. However, if becoming a PM was so difficult, there would be a handful of us, yet looking at the job market and the pace of technical development, it is safe to say that it is by constantly developing these and being aware of what to look out for that you can be a good Project Manager. It is always worth listening to older colleagues’ advice and experiences, and it is possible that they faced the same challenges, so if you can learn from their stories, it is worth doing.