10 Things That All Great Project Managers Do

By Dennis McCafferty  |  Posted 06-13-2014 Email Print this article Print

The numbers are not kind: An estimated one-half of IT projects fail, according to industry research. And the bigger they are, the harder they fall—about two of five tech projects budgeted at $15 million or more fail, and 17 percent go so badly, that they threaten to put their organization out of business. Among the challenges commonly cited are a lack of resources, inadequate staffing, confusing and shifting requirements, and the poor design and use of tech. And when a major IT project falls short of requirements, exceeds its budget or misses deadlines, guess who ultimately takes the blame? Yes, it's the CIO. Because even if you delegate the formal role of "project manager" to an employee, you're the one who remains primarily accountable. With this in mind, consider these 10 qualities of a great project manager. They address everything from leadership presence to attention to detail to empathy toward project team members. They were compiled from a number of online reports, including those from 20|20 Business Insight and 99u.com. For more about the 20/20 Business Insight qualities, click here.  For the 99u recommendations, click here.

  • They Seek Clarity From Start to Finish

    Ambiguous marching orders or confusion lead directly to mistakes, repeated processes and blown deadlines and budgets.
    They Seek Clarity From Start to Finish
  • They Don't "Ask for Permission" to Assert Authority

    They give directives because they know how to get the job done. They don't resort to wishy-washy qualifiers such as "The higher-ups told us to do this …."
    They Don't
  • They Edit Information as It's Presented

    Because there's always "noise" in workplace conversations, they immediately know which facts are important to the project and which aren't.
    They Edit Information as It's Presented
  • They Re-Evaluate on the Fly

    Frequent market and logistical shifts demand the constant adjustment of the game plan. While due diligence is necessary, paralysis through over-analysis will drag down a project.
    They Re-Evaluate on the Fly
  • They Craft Conversations for their Audience

    They know the goals and pain points of every team member and stakeholder. That's because they're great listeners first, and skilled speakers second.
    They Craft Conversations for their Audience
  • They Stick to Regular Communications Schedules

    This doesn't mean incessant meetings. It speaks to knowing when each project cycle merits productive exchanges.
    They Stick to Regular Communications Schedules
  • They Put the Right People in the Right Positions

    Like a great football coach, they design their play book according to the distinct talents of their players, as opposed to forcing round pegs into square holes.
    They Put the Right People in the Right Positions
  • They Exude Integrity

    Because without it, they recognize that they have no credibility and, thus, will earn no real commitment from their project teams.
    They Exude Integrity
  • They Maintain Composure

    They realize that team members will judge them by how they lead through adversity much more so than during the good times.
    They Maintain Composure
  • They Respect Work-Life Balance

    Sure, deadlines and budgets matter, as does exceeding stakeholders' expectations. But this can't come at the expense of driving team members into the ground and burning them out. Great project managers think long-term.
    They Respect Work-Life Balance
Dennis McCafferty is a freelance writer for Baseline Magazine.


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Thanks for your registration, follow us on our social networks to keep up-to-date