Secrets of Successful Project Managers

Ever wondered what separates the great project managers from the rest of the pack? We all would love to learn the ingredients to the secret sauce. Wonder no longer – here are the secrets of successful project managers.

Be Prepared

There are multiple disciplines that all come down to “be prepared.” Whether its managing risks, or contingency planning, or using approaches like Agile or Kanban, the successful project managers emphasize preparedness and responsiveness. The crucial role of a project manager is to create a project plan capable of withstanding the rigors and challenges of getting to successful delivery.

Successful project managers know that truly being prepared requires work. It isn’t just about prediction! We all know the Black Swan phenomenon – real tail risk isn’t predictable, and you can’t ever really build a risk management plan that can account for every possible risk. The way to be prepared is to build robust project plans, with multiple pathways, that can absorb problems without getting derailed.

Soft Skills Are A Must

Managing people requires people skills. Knowing how to motivate, delegate, negotiate, and when to play good cop or bad cop aren’t things you learn when studying project management, but they’re important. You might be able to plan a project to perfection, but its called project management for a reason. Starting with building the project team, getting to successful delivery requires people skills as much as it requires knowing the tools of the trade.

Successful project managers invest time and effort in building relationships with their team, and acquiring soft skills. Networking, motivating, negotiating, and delegating effectively are core skills for a project manager in today’s business climate.


Market In House

The silo mentality prevalent in the workplace sometimes is a challenge to resource allocation. Harold in the warehouse does not necessarily know which projects are crucial. Surprisingly, Stephanie in accounting may not either! Projects don’t succeed without the resources they need. If you’re going to get to delivery successfully, you’re going to need to market your project within the company, too. Selling people within the company on the need for your project will open up doors – both for resources, and for networking. Both are crucial for maximizing the project’s chances of success.

Successful project managers “play the game.” Meet for coffee with colleagues with access to key resources. Take part in the social life of the office. Develop relationships with people, and create connections across departments in the company.

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Leading From The Front Lines

Leaders lead. Leading means giving people something to follow. Project managers are leaders, and set the example for the project team. We’ve all had managers who didn’t lead – they pointed, they made demands, and were happy to pass the buck when possible. Armchair quarterbacks don’t inspire, and they create a toxic work environment that is its own greatest threat to success.

Successful project managers get involved, taking an active role in the day to day work of the project. They lead by example, setting the bar for everyone on the team. The best way to create a motivated team is to lead that team – and the successful project manager is a leader.