You have project managers, and then you have good project managers. Employers searching for quality project managers look for certain criteria that separates good project managers from those who simply wear the title well. This criteria can vary depending on the type and size of the organization, but there are basic characteristics employers look for in general and what potential candidate should possess if they want the job.
Exemplary organizational skills are a must. Project managers are often tasked with managing multiple projects at a time, organizing and managing project staff, maintaining project budgets, developing work plans and project scopes, keeping projects within budget, meeting all milestones and deliverable deadlines, addressing and handling project issues or setbacks, as well as meeting client needs.
A good project manager is also a good communicator. Projects typically involve weekly project meetings, weekly status meetings with the client and a weekly status report to the project team and client. If a project manager is overseeing 4 projects, he has to coordinate 12 formal points of communication. Some project managers may also include a project kick-off meeting with his staff and the client to formally start off the project. Timely and thorough communication is crucial to a project’s success, and it’s the one quality clients remember. If a project manager exercises exemplary communication skills, he will receive glowing recommendations; if he doesn’t, future projects may go to someone else.
A good project manager is a master negotiator. Clients are notorious for changing a project’s scope at a moment’s notice. A project manager must be able to present a revised scope of work that clearly outlines the amount of additional work required as well as the cost, especially if the work is outside of the original scope. The project manager can offer to implement the project in phases which will help keep the project on schedule. A project manager must also be capable of holding his ground and not let a client badger him into doing excessive additional work.
A project manager who exudes confidence is one that client’s will remember long after a project is completed. If a team member or client senses weakness or insecurity in a project manager, he won’t be one for long. To a staff member or a client, a weak backbone equals incompetence. Project managers must take charge and not be afraid to make unpopular decisions. They must be ready to have their staff’s back in times when issues arise, they must be willing to fight to make sure their clients’ needs are met and they must be ready to take issues to upper/executive management if necessary.
Good project managers listen to their staff and their clients. They don’t rely on their own understanding of a project. They seek feedback from their staff and clients throughout the project to catch any impending issues before they become a problem, to see if there is a need to modify the project scope or to see if there should be a change in project direction altogether.