6 Habits of Successful Project Managers

Jul 4, 2019 | Project Management

Project managers must be at the top of their game to be successful. While regular managers can afford to relax and take it easy from time to time, project managers must deliver exceptional service 24/7.

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Photographer: Dialects | Source: Unsplash

We hold project managers to a higher standard because their work is easier to measure and review. Regular projects run for one year and even long-term projects run for a period of 2 to 5 years at most. Projects managers must be capable of completing assignments within deadlines and budgets. They should be able to demonstrate positive improvements that their work has accomplished.

To achieve this goal, project managers need to have a set of skills, habits, and attitudes ingrained in their lifestyle. In this blog, we look at 6 crucial habits that project managers must have to be successful in their line of work.

1. Proactive

Regular managers in charge of a company have time and resources on their side. If they fail to capture an opportunity in the market or do not enforce changes on time, it may not make a big difference in their performance evaluation. The organization may not be the most efficient, but the manager can still be forgiven for ‘following the trends’ instead of taking a proactive leadership role.

Project managers do not get the same benefit. They cannot afford to be laid back or relaxed. They must be go-getters and have the ability to take ownership of their work. Not just their own work, project managers must also manage other project members and keep track of how they are completing their tasks.

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Photographer: STIL | Source: Unsplash

This is why being proactive is a quality that is highly desired in project managers. Project management courses are designed to build the habits of questioning and taking action into students. Successful project managers are more involved and always eager to improve.

2. Foresight

Whether you are trying to solicit resources for a project or get a project assigned by your boss at work, you need to have a good level of intuition and foresight. This trait is highly desirable among project managers as it helps in setting goals and objectives.

Foresight is the ability to analyze situations and make forecasts. There are two parts to it. First, the project manager must be able to look at environmental events that can affect the project and understand their impact. Second, the manager must be able to predict the likelihood of these events occurring and take precautions to guard against them.

People and businesses like certainty. A project manager who can forecast the resource requirement and time period to complete the project will make a stronger impact on the investors. A project manager that is unable to give an end date or resource requirement is seen as inexperienced.

Remember, the budget and time that is actually used for completing the project may not be the same as the initial forecast but a good project manager should be able to make a forecast nonetheless.

3. Communication

A project manager must have good social skills and be a people’s person. Project managers often have to work with new people and they cannot be shy or socially inept. A successful project manager is someone who is good at building rapport with people and gets them easily inspired to do their best.

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Photographer: Mimi Thian | Source: Unsplash

Good project managers are not afraid of confrontation when needed. For example, if team members on a project are not pulling their weight, the project leader may need to discipline them. Communicative project members do their best to create a healthy working environment to get the best out of each project member.

Project managers also have to negotiate with external stakeholders that are working on the project. They work with vendors and suppliers to ensure timely delivery of material. They work with investors to present reports on the progress. They also communicate with regulators when the project calls for it.

Simply put, effective project managers are masters of communication and influencing people.

4. Optimism

Optimism should come naturally to a project manager. Someone who cannot look at the bright side or loses their motivation quickly cannot make a good project manager.

Effective project managers look at their failures and setbacks as learning experiences. They view their accomplishments and successes as medals on their collar. They are cognizant of the hurdles that are part of every project and don’t let small problems distract them from completing their goals. They are like a rock standing firm to the current in the river, with eyes set on the prize.

5. Prioritization

Time is one of the most precious resources in a project. Good project managers know that they cannot afford to waste time by delaying critical project milestones. They have the ability to identify critical activities and prioritize them first, followed by secondary and tertiary tasks.

Project activities are always interconnected. The completion of one task forms the basis for the second and the successful completion of the second activity allows work to begin on the third activity.

In order to be an effective manager, you need the ability to identify tasks based on priority. You should also allocate enough resources and consideration to activities that require immediate attention.

6. Observation/Listening

Every project is different and comes with its own unique set of challenges and problems. In order to succeed, the project manager must be willing to listen to others and take input about how things should be done. When other project members see that you are taking their suggestions or feedback into consideration, they will be more likely to reveal important project-related information to you.

Project managers must also have a habit of observation to understand what’s going on and monitor the project more effectively. For example, it is imperative for project managers to take account of inventory and resources at their disposal before they decide on a plan of action.

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