As we get ready to enter a new year, let’s talk a bit about another key element of your project management methodology: the underlying competencies required for effective and successful project managers. I recently had a client ask me to name my top 3 competencies for successful project managers. Here’s my list and why I chose them …
1. Effective communication
Poor project communication has long been documented as the #1 reason for project failures. Communication on a typical project spans many dimensions such as formal and informal, within the project team and to the stakeholders, written and verbal, speaking and listening. Good communication skills tend to make all project tasks easier. It takes a good Project Communications Plan to drive consistent and complete project communications in the formal sense. It takes personality, patience and good people skills to maintain the equally-as-important informal piece of project communications and to overcome opportunities for misunderstanding across the project life cycle.
2. Problem solving
Structured problem solving skills and the analytical thinking abilities that must accompany them are essential to successful project managers across the project life cycle. From pre-project activities through execution of project work and on to the controlled close of a completed project, successful project managers are able to assess situations, understand those situations fully and make judgments and decisions regarding the possible solutions to what those situations bring. Problem-solving skills allow the project manager and the project team to effectively deal with issues, risks and to manage changes in ways that make sense for the project. Problem solving also allows the project manager to understand and ultimately meet stakeholder needs.
3. Influencing the organization
Influence skills are a type of informal leadership. In the absence of formal power, effective project managers must still find a way to work with the project team and the other project stakeholders meet the defined project requirements and achieve the project objectives. One aspect of doing this is to lead by example, ‘influencing’ the project team and stakeholders into working together and collaborating effectively. This requires that project managers have the ability to adjust their style to the audience at hand and consistently follow through with their commitments. By systematically applying active encouragement and collaboration, a project manager with little authority and all of the responsibility can successfully complete their project and get everyone to buy into and to contribute to this success.
So, there you have it – my top 3 project manager competencies. I would be very interested in hearing about your top 3 competencies and your rationale for their selection!