Project management might seem like a super power, but it’s actually a combination of good technical skills, good interpersonal skills and a determination to see work through to the end. So what are the skills you should be looking for in a super project manager? There are some common traits that split the most effective project managers – the ones everyone wants to work with – from the rest of the crowd.
Here are our top 5 essential skills for project superheroes.
Skill #1: Telling the Truth
It might not always be easy to hear, but superheroes tell it like it is. Build a reputation for transparency. It’s a key skill in today’s business world, and never more so than on client projects. The good news is it’s easy to implement, especially if you grant clients access to certain views of your project management tools. They’ll be able to see exactly what you see, minus any confidential information you choose to keep within company walls.
Be transparent with billing information. Clients appreciate knowing what they are committed to and what that is going to get them. You’ll increase customer satisfaction ratings by being known as the team who prize honesty and good communication.
Skill #2: Planning like a Boss
While it might look like superheroes in films make up their plans on the spur of the moment, much planning goes into the execution of a major mission. Superheroes like Ant-Man put in their training and planning before going out into the field. And you should do the same. Planning might not be the most exciting super power, but being able to schedule your time on the right tasks is essential to keep momentum.
Resource management is a huge part of planning. Make sure you’ve got the right people involved and that they have enough time to be part of the project. Get good at capacity planning and resource forecasting so you are able to schedule work for everyone in the most efficient way.
Skill #3: Building a Fantastic Team
Superheroes work in teams – think of the Fantastic Four, the Avengers and even the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Teams play to their strengths and work collaboratively to solve problems. The problems on your project are unlikely to involve saving the world, but a solid project team can manage anything the world (or the client) has to throw at it.
Foster working relationships. Help people get to know each other. Build trust in the team and keep morale high by helping people understand their contribution. Value the work they do, and let them know you value them. Find ways to work collaboratively even when your colleagues are remote. Check in often and take action quickly if you find morale starting to struggle.
Conflict in teams is common, even in the best superhero gangs. Learn how to identify conflict and step in if you notice a situation escalating. It’s healthy to manage creative disagreements, but find ways to do this away from your client and key stakeholders, so that you can present a united force when you need to.
Successful teams work effectively together. Think of time spent on working relationships as an investment in the future. You never know when another project might bring you together again. In fact, in professional services organizations it’s common for teams to work together on multiple initiatives over time, often for the same or similar clients. It’s always worth the time to build your team.
Skill #4: Using Automation
Your time is best spend working with people, understanding the situation and removing roadblocks so others can do their best work. But in reality, many project managers spend a disproportionate amount of time on low-value work like administration and updating logs. Smart project managers automate what they can. Get your team to update their own progress, direct into your PSA tool. Set up workflows for repeatable tasks, so everyone knows what they are supposed to do and the work is always done the same way. Follow best practices every time. This is what smart superheroes do too – Iron Man doesn’t have a new way to put his suit on every time; he has honed a best practice, automated technique that works over and over again.
Automating the project management business processes helps streamline work, freeing up your time to do more of the useful stuff, and less checking up on whether people have completed the right steps. It also helps with process compliance. You can reassure clients that the appropriate steps have been carried out, and can provide auditable views to evidence that if necessary.
Skill #5: Reusing Knowledge
Some superheroes choose to work alone, but many draw on the strengths from the team. Even those who prefer to fly solo reuse information. They’ll often have large data banks of knowledge – or big brains – to make future missions easier. They simply call up what they already know about a situation and apply the learning to the current problem. Project management in a professional services firm is no different. The more organizational knowledge you can capture, the easier it is to hit the ground running with your next client engagement. You can switch team members more easily, because the new joiner can quickly get up to speed. And fast onboarding for new projects equates to a higher margin.
The knowledge-enabled professional services organization wins more proposals, spends less time on client onboarding and has higher profit capture. Find smart ways to use your software to save time and record all the things project teams learn about clients during an engagement. It will pay off in the future.
Superhero project managers are well-rounded individuals who can coordinate and support a team. You might be the de facto leader, but each member of the team has their own super powers to bring to the project. Working together, you can manage any project successfully. Resource management is the key to creating a professional team. Find out how to make the most of your crucial project resources in this white paper which covers how to effectively leverage your people to optimize for project success.