If you are looking at taking on a project manager role then you will no doubt be interested in seeing whether you already have the right kind of characteristics to make a good job of it. It is the kind of role which requires a broad range of attributes so let’s check out a few of the main ones.
No matter what other skills and abilities you possess you definitely need to be able to organize your time in order to make the most of them. This means knowing what needs done at all times and then carrying out the relevant tasks in order of priority. This is a difficult skill to learn, as it is something which tends to come naturally to those people who have it. However, by making a real effort to get yourself sorted out you can hopefully improve your organizational abilities. I have found that little things often make a big difference. For example, you could get some trays for putting your outstanding work in, rather than leaving it all in one big heap. You could also think about making a to-do list at the start of the week to guide you through the work which needs done before the week is out.
This isn’t a skill which a lot of us need to use very often in other jobs, which is why it can be one of the most demanding ones to pick up. When you become a project manager you need to get used to having to negotiate with stakeholders, end users and possibly other people as well. Big, complicated projects can have a lot of people interested in them and can also see you need to deal with even more people. If you aren’t used to negotiating then this is definitely something you will want to learn before too long.
Team Leading Skills
You are unlikely to ever get given a piece of project work which doesn’t mean working with a team. This means that it is essential that you can lead other project workers without taking your eye off your other responsibilities. The experience and ability of the team you are given will play a big part in making this part of the role easier or more difficult. However, whatever type of situation you are in you will need to be a strong and fair leader. Your team members will want to see this in everything you do so don’t forget that they are people too and each one needs to be dealt with differently. You might need to give one motivational talks now and then while with others you will need to give them training or start giving them more chances to show their initiative. If you have already led a team you already know this but if you haven’t then it is time to start thinking about how you will lead your project team.
You will probably be in meetings a lot of the time once the project really kick into gear, and you will be running a lot of them too I would imagine. This means that it is important that you know how to control a meeting and how to get what you want from it. This is a skill you will learn with experience and from going to a lot of different meetings, although you can also take courses on it. I enjoyed going to meetings run by other project managers at first, to let me see how they did it. I picked up a lot of good tips this way and it is definitely something I would recommend if you get the chance to do so as well.
Of course, the rest of the abilities and characteristics we have looked at here won’t mean much if you continually make bad decisions. Many of the projects you get given will involve you taking a lot of decisions, and they often won’t be easy ones. For this reason, it is a huge advantage if you have good analytical skills and are comfortable weighing up a large quantity of information. The good news is that these decisions will often be able to be taken without a great deal of time pressure. This means that you can take your time and really make the smartest decision. Sometimes you will see that coming up with a decision and then doing nothing about it for a day or so if a good thing. This way you can come back to it with a fresh approach and see whether it still looks right.