What sets the best Project Managers apart?

What sets the best Project Managers apart?

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Project Managers need to have a strong blend of technical intelligence (IQ), emotional intelligence (EQ), and work ethic (WQ).  This article details some of the soft skills and traits a Project Manager must possess to set him/ herself apart.

1. Understand scope

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One of the best skills a Project Manager (PM) could have is the ability to understand, and communicate scope. 

Scope refers to: What is being delivered, and the work required to deliver it.

Scope drives schedule, and budget, so it’s critical to nail down scope, to create realistic expectations. The better you understand the scope, the better you’ll see the Project risks. Don’t cut corners here. 

Understanding scope starts with asking the right questions and validating all assumptions. Begin with the end in mind to clarify the purpose of the project. Ask ‘the 5 Ws’ – Who, What, Where, When, and Why?

2. Communicate tactfully

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As you communicate scope and hold others accountable, it is important to communicate tactfully and gracefully. Ensure you’re communicating the constraints and carrying stakeholders along, verbally, and in writing. 

You’ll need to be firm when stakeholders suggest work that is out of scope. You’ll need to redirect your team when they veer in the wrong direction. 

In these situations, It’s not only about what you’re saying, but also how you’re saying it.

90% of the project manager’s time is spent communicating so ensure you’re utilizing the right communication tools & techniques, such as visualization, stating facts, wrap-ups/summaries, and asking open-ended questions. 

Be kind, show empathy and utilize collaboration language over negotiation language.

Also, choose the right context – evaluate if something is best communicated in a meeting, a work board or an instant message/ chat.

3. Stakeholder Management

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Know your project stakeholders, and their interests. A Stakeholder is anyone who is impacted by your project. 

PMs will have multiple stakeholders across technical and business teams. You will need to understand the lingo of both teams, so you can be the bridge between them.

Additionally, some stakeholders may have unique needs or impediments that require more time to manage. Spend the time to learn about your stakeholders so you will be able to communicate in the language that they understand, to get the desired response or buy-in. 

A good tip for quick wins is to engage people in their areas of interest.

About the Author

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Shaun Six is a Mentor at SkillHat, and VP of Project Management at RedEyeApps. He oversees Project delivery teams implementing engineering drawing & collaborating software.

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