Managing a project involves a lot of moving parts. Being a project manager means that you have to deal with not only people, but tools and applications and, sometimes, external suppliers as well. Project managers are often well-admired in companies for their special kind of focus and drive but, most of all, their ability to produce the desired results by leading their teams through coaching and mentorship. More often than not, the success or failure of a project relies heavily on the resilience of the project manager.
The secrets of successful project managers are not a clear-cut list. Ask any project manager for project manager secrets, and they’ll each give you a different list every time. The truth in master project management is that it depends on a lot of things – the industry you’re in, the resources that are available to you, and the people you’re working with, among others. We will look into the most common secrets of successful project managers, and hopefully, you’ll be able to apply them in your next project.
The time to stop admiring successful project managers has come. We’re happy to share the 10 secrets of successful project managers to help you master the art of project management. Once you have these down pat, you will not only be a success story, but you can also mentor other future project managers by sharing what you know.
It’s time to get organized and prepared for success. If you’re looking for a guidebook to becoming the best project manager that you can become, we’ve got your back. Read on and take notes. Here we go:
1. Successful project managers are also strong leaders
It’s one thing to be able to instill fear in people, but it’s a whole other thing entirely to be able to lead, inspire and motivate a team. One of the secrets of successful project managers is being a strong leader for their team. Managing a project is never easy because you’re not only dealing with people, or your own people, for that matter. Having the presence and abilities of a leader can do a lot in ensuring the success of a project.
Leadership skills are strengths and abilities that project managers possess and demonstrate to guide their team as they work to complete projects. They can be made up of soft, hard, and technical skills and may incorporate being able to delegate tasks, manage risks and communicate effectively with everyone involved in the project.
Being a good communicator is one of the secrets of successful project managers, and it means more than the ability to choose the right words or appear convincing to the team, stakeholders, and clients. Good communication is open, secure, and trustworthy. This means being able to listen to all sides, weighing every point and argument, and using the information gathered to make sound decisions. To be a good communicator also means being able to observe non-verbal cues, pick out nuances, and put people at ease.
Part of the job of an effective communicator is finding the right tools for the job. You can have the desire to reach out and relate to the people you work with, but successful project managers also recognize that tools can also help bridge any gap. You might have someone in the team who prefers video conferencing or instant messaging, or you might have a team member who’s working remotely, so you need to choose a communication tool that will allow you and your team to be able to do it all.
3. Successful project managers are capable of strategic thinking
Another one of the secrets of successful project managers is the capability to think strategically, which means being able to anticipate potential challenges and opportunities. Anyone can act after an obstacle or problem becomes known, but it takes a lot of dedication and focus to cultivate the skill of foresight and thinking outside of the box. Only those who are aware of and using the project manager's secrets will be able to plan for possible failure and effectively avoid them will see their project triumph.
If you want to master project management, always leave a little room for error in your plans. Make allowances and create contingency plans. This way, your team will not be grappling for a solution in the middle of a crisis, looking around for help. Create workflows for your team to follow for certain scenarios, and if time allows it, conduct tests to see if the contingency plans you drew up are actually up to the task.
4. They are proactive when it comes to problem-solving
Successful project managers are proactive problem solvers and are able to quickly find solutions to any issues that arise. This type of resourcefulness comes from being able to think on their toes, so to speak. This comes hand in hand with point number 3, which has to do with strategic thinking. The key to being an advantageous problem solver is the capacity to see a problem developing before it becomes a full-blown hindrance to the success of your project.
Conduct risk assessments at the beginning of each project and conduct a SWOT analysis of your team members. Allow for changes to be made at the last minute to staffing or even task assignments if needed. Always ask yourself, “what if?” to try to picture what issues may come to light. Then, you and your team will be able to come up with solutions and ways to troubleshoot the situation.
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5. Successful project managers have organizational skills to master project management
Being highly organized and able to keep track of multiple tasks and deadlines all at the same time are some of the hallmarks of successful project managers. Assigning tasks and setting deadlines can be easy enough for some, but what if you have a lot of them going on all at once? The secrets of successful project managers also comprise overseeing the progress during the project’s entire lifespan, unfazed. You need to be able to manage the completion of tasks and guarantee your team’s understanding of task dependencies and project deadlines for timely deliveries.
The acquisition and use of a tool that can help you better manage your team, their tasks, and projects, if you want to be well-organized. Visualize your projects, align your resources, drive efficiency, maximize productivity, and plan every minute detail of the whole venture by acquiring for your team a robust and dependable project planning and project management software.
6. Adaptability is another one of the project manager secrets
They are able to adapt to changes and unexpected challenges in the project that can otherwise derail the team’s efforts. While other people might panic and scarper for a workaround, a successful project manager already has everything from the good, bad, and ugly all planned for. Even if one of their resources should be cut off, they would not be deterred. The work will still continue, deadlines will be met, and the output will still be of great quality.
It's near impossible to plan for everything and to redesign a project while the work is being completed, but it can be done. Foresight is always better than hindsight. If you’re having trouble coming up with possible scenarios for failure, get your team together and ask for their input. You can also use your experiences and insight to draft plans for solutions to various potential disasters. This will not only make the list longer and better but bond the team as well.
7. Successful project managers pay attention to detail
They pay attention to details and ensure that all aspects of the project are well-planned and executed. Nothing is left to chance – just one more of the secrets of successful project managers. From the project plan to picking out the members of the team to compromising on the timelines and agreeing on the project goals, successful project managers always take every minor and major detail into account before setting off.
It’s important to keep track of everything from work hours, tasks and workloads, and productivity. If you have a sizable team, assigning cluster leaders could help. Distribute the smaller jobs to the leaders, and assign a day in the week when they will have to report to you. Make certain that no stone is left unturned thus, nothing is missed. A dip in the motivation, some light bickering, or one missed task deadline, and you should be there to oversee the recovery.
8. Project manager secrets involve an efficient risk management
Successful project managers are able to identify and mitigate project risks. Risk management is the process of identifying, analyzing, and adequately responding to any risk that may come up during the entire life cycle of any given project. This will help keep the project on track in terms of deadlines and output quality, as well as goals for productivity, efficiency, and overall success. Any good project manager knows risk management should be part of every project planning process for maximum outcome control.
A risk assessment usually covers a project’s timeline, budget, and team performance. This part of the project plan helps in coming up with a risk response plan in the event that an identified potential risk becomes an actual risk. If you’re heading a big team, you have the option to assign a risk to a team member. Doing this will help you keep an eye out for everything, including risks, either positive or negative. After a risk is identified, you can then move on to the next part of the plan, which is responding to it. Two agile tools that you can use for risk management plans are Gantt charts and Kanban boards. You can see the bigger picture to easily prioritize risks, keep them from becoming full-blown issues and monitor tasks and project progress in real time.
9. To master project management, master negotiation
Successful project managers possess strong negotiation skills and are able to negotiate effectively with stakeholders and vendors. Negotiations are a part of every professional’s life, but for project managers, the ability to negotiate productively on behalf of the team is crucial. Through skillful negotiations, a project manager can set the foundation for a triumphant project. Compelling negotiation skills enable project managers to establish solid relationships with stakeholders and clients while creating a more positive and fruitful working environment. Negotiating can also come in handy when dealing with conflicts in the workplace.
To help in honing your negotiation skills, remember the 5 key elements of negotiation skills:
Communication – Use words that are easy to understand, a neutral tone, and be concise when communicating at the bargaining table. Doing this will guarantee that you will walk away with your desired results
Emotional intelligence – Successful project managers acknowledge that emotions play a role in negotiations, whether that’s to be taken as a negative or positive. Knowing how to read emotions and non-verbal cues can help a lot in understanding and managing your emotions as well as those of the other party’s
Planning ahead – Plan for the results that you want and what your boundaries are
Creating value – Shift the attention from what one party can get from the project. Instead, focus on what everyone can get from a victorious project
Strategy – Also, part of the secrets of successful project managers is knowing what works and what doesn’t beforehand makes for a great strategy when negotiating. Whether it’s better pay, work hours, or timetable, highlighting the benefits as part of your strategy aids in ensuring you get what you want
10. Successful project managers go through continuous learning
They are always looking to improve their skills and knowledge through continuous learning and professional development. Project manager secrets also consist of leadership and management training to allow them to further hone their skills. Any good leader, such as successful project managers, incorporates constant learning in their lives through the use of onsite and online training courses, checks and balances done by higher-ups, and consistent Quality Assurance assessments.
The same is also necessary for regular employees. Knowledge is power, as they say, and managers can pass the power on to their teams by sharing what they know. Instituting a Knowledge Base for everyone in the company to access when needed will empower the workforce to read up, seek out unending knowledge and improve themselves. Ascertain that the information is always up-to-date and that all of the staff know they can approach you or anyone in Management if they have questions or something is not clear to them.
A project manager wears many hats - coach, liaison officer, negotiator, team leader, mediator, task delegator, deadline supervisor, and more but a successful project manager does not bat an eyelid at having to serve more than one purpose for the team. It's because they are well aware of the secrets of success and apply all that they know into their daily professional lives.
The most important secret of all is to understand and practice what a truly successful project manager looks and sounds like. All of your traits and skills should be used not only to lead your team to win. They must also be used to lead, inspire and motivate anyone and everyone you come across.
An excellent project manager is someone who is able to see the project through from its conception to its completion while assisting the team, stakeholders and everyone else involved in the project. He is able to elaborate a solid project plan, lead his team competently, anticipate events, and keep cool under pressure.
The essential skills of successful project managers include having the following skills: