Today, it can feel like there is a Project or Program Manager (PM) around every corner. Some have little to no experience, while others are Project Management Professionals (PMP’s) who majored in Project Management and are true subject matter experts. On paper, they can look very similar, but how do you find that one person who will be able to manage implementation of your challenging ‘next big thing’, along with stakeholders, vendors, teams, and competing priorities?
That is where the project management ‘superpowers’, otherwise known as soft skills, come into play. A Project Manager with strong soft skills will have everyone pulling together as one unit in an organization, setting your team up for successful development, growth, and client delivery.
Here’s some of the skills that you should look for and why:
Project Managers with this skill know how to stay in the middle. They don’t play favorites, whether they’re in Information Technology, Project Management Office, or on the business side. Even though they don’t take sides, they should act as a translator, helping all departments understand each other and work together.
A Project Manager without organization is like a boat without a rudder. Their job is to keep everything accessible and stored, so all team members can access information quickly and efficiently. Thinking logically about file structure, communication, and people management across all levels of stakeholders and team members is paramount. An organized Project Manager makes sure nothing languishes. They keep prompts coming in a timely manner, so tasks are not forgotten or take longer than estimated.
Communication is a major skill for keeping all members of a team informed at the appropriate level. When people know what is going on, they are less likely to escalate. A good communicator will present their information in a timely manner, especially in the middle of a project where decisions may need to be made quickly. Top tier Project and Program Managers will be familiar with multiple forms of communication and will know when and where to use them.
One of the most difficult skills throughout any organization or position is transparency. When something goes wrong, it’s natural to want to hide it. A professional Project Manager will encourage team members to keep the team informed of concerns, so everyone can work together to find a satisfactory solution. If the issue impacts the larger project, stakeholders will need to be informed. Through honest communication, Project Managers can build trust between all parties involved. Trust doesn’t mean stakeholders won’t have questions or want to know details, but consistent transparency will make the conversations easier and more productive.
As anyone who has worked on or with a team knows, there will be conflicts. It is the Project Manager’s responsibility to push for resolution. The Project Manager needs to make sure all voices are heard. For example, they won’t let one individual drive the resolution when a quiet team member may have the perfect solution but may be afraid to talk or lacks confidence in their idea. A Project Manager that keeps their head, while all others have lost theirs, is priceless and necessary.
An experienced Project Manager will anticipate where a project may run into problems and work to minimize those chances of occurrence. Skilled Project Managers can pre-empt issues by utilizing their understanding, experience, and knowledge. Identifying issues and addressing them beforehand will save hours, possibly days, of project time, not to mention your budget.
Along with anticipation, proactivity ensures schedules are kept and team members stay busy. Project Manager leaders don’t wait until someone asks them to schedule a meeting for a necessary discussion – they get it on the calendar. Making surer to look ahead and identify things that can be completed ahead of time or in parallel protects the project schedule and time management of all involved. Proactive Project Managers are always looking for ways to implement efficiency in their day to day.
These ‘superpowers’ are hard to teach skills and are often innate, but top tier Project and Program Managers will be able to use them on your next project. Experienced Project or Program managers are invaluable to any organization and should be sought out often….and you’re in luck! Not only does Strive Consulting have a host of qualified Project and Program Managers ready and willing to partner with your organization, we can also help you find your own valuable resource.