Wednesday 2 February 2022

Characteristics of a good project manager


For all my time working on projects, I have been able to see a decent number of project managers and different work styles. All these were different people, with individual characteristics and characters, working in different companies with different corporate cultures, some of them were from other countries. Some were, in my opinion, too rigid, others too soft, but all the project managers who were respected and whose contribution to the project was noticeable had some common distinctive features or, rather, principles of work that characterize them. Below, I would like to consider them in more detail.

Focus on the goals of the project and the final result

Quite clogged with various references to the place and out of place is the characteristic "Focus on the result". By this characteristic, I understand that the project manager must see the goals of the project and the final result, what exactly should happen in the end. Why is this important? On long-term projects, there are usually enough changes so that some actions from the plan become meaningless or suboptimal. When the project manager sees the end result, he can discard unnecessary or optimize suboptimal work. Also, it is important to see the goals of the project. For example, the production of a shovel in order to dig up a plot of land makes sense until the plot is dug up, so even after producing a shovel, it may turn out that the project for its production is a failure, because during the project someone else has already dug up the site.

Establishing normal relations with the team This is a very important character trait, the ability to establish normal relations with the project team. Different project managers do this in different ways. Someone behaves casually and informally, with jokes and friendly teasing, the other quite formally, but each of the good project managers I saw found a common language with the team, the project team respected them. This is very important. No matter what style you choose, healthy, normal and professional team relationships are important.

Competent communication

Each of the project managers discussed in this article paid great attention to communications. They planned communications in advance, documented them, took as much time as necessary to make sure that all the information they transmitted reached the addressee and he understood it exactly as they intended. In general, what they differed in was the variety of approaches to communications and means of communication and the choice of them as the most effective for each specific case. A discussion is needed – we will arrange a meeting, a long conversation with another country – let's use Skype, approval of fundamental decisions – weekly meeting of the steering committee, etc.


All competent project managers plan their actions, this is a fact. You can do a simple, short project without planning, but you can't complete a complex project without a project plan. Planning in the performance of a competent project manager is the search for a certain balance. They do not try to plan totally the entire project, and at the same time, the blocks of work are exactly the size that they would be manageable. Moreover, not only works are planned, but also communications, resources, risks, procurement, in general, almost all aspects of the project.

Risk Management

A good project manager should manage risk. For some, this is a more formal process with questionnaires, brainstorming, weekly meetings and the like, for others, less formal. In risk management, much depends on the project, on the degree of its certainty, complexity and duration. In any case, risk management should be justified. None of the described project managers devoted too much time to risks, at the same time, none of them abandoned risk management in the middle of the project (a common situation), but brought it to an end.

Change management Each of the project managers

I described managed the changes. Uncontrolled changes are the main problem of inexperienced project managers. The more experienced they become, the more resistant they are to requests for change. However, really effective project managers are able to distinguish the necessary changes from those that can be avoided and, accordingly, are able to convince the customer either not to make changes, or to make them later, in the next release / in the next phase of the project.

Quality control

A good project manager always controls the quality. In this case, the concept of quality and variety is often confused. The product may be of low grade, but the product should not be allowed to be of poor quality. In IT, this is solved by careful planning of the architecture of development / improvements / integration, as well as various types of testing (unit, integration, regression testing). All the project managers I write about paid a lot of attention to testing, prescribing and coordinating first the approach to testing, then test scenarios and performing tests with the recording of results.

All of the project managers I described tried to prevent problems from occurring , not to solve them. That makes more sense. Actually, that's why they've always had a lot of work, but few rushes.

The next thing that is remarkable about good project managers is constant monitoring. This does not mean that they run from employee to employee, constantly call contractors and partners and ask how the work is progressing. This means that the project manager develops a control system and then uses it. Everything is simple, for example, employees are monitored by meetings on the status of the project weekly, partners and contractors, a report on the status of the project every two weeks, and in addition, tasks are monitored on a critical path along which the periodicity of reporting changes. Of course, in this case, I gave an example, only to show that in constant control the systematic approach is important and a good project manager has it.

And finally, each of them used the experience of other people. Some of them, working for large consulting companies, called colleagues and consulted with them, others looked for lessons learned in corporate knowledge bases or, sometimes, simply arranged with strangers with the necessary experience to meet to share knowledge. By the way, many, even strangers, make contact and share their knowledge, i.e. do not hesitate to ask

successful projects for you!

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