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7 tips to becoming a better project manager

Number 7 sign screwed to wall

Allan ThomsonWhat can project managers do to improve their skills and capabilities and – in turn – the performance of project teams?

  1. Have a best practice mindset
    To be truly effective, you need to know your chosen project management method – such as PRINCE2
    ® – in depth. Having that helps create confidence within the rest of the project team.
  2. Openness, honesty and transparency
    You need to be open, honest and transparent with the project team and also appreciate when they have to make hard decisions. There needs to be a two-way street approach that’s set by the project manager and you need to talk in terms of “we” rather than “I”, especially when reporting upwards.
  3. Facilitate collaboration between the teams
    The project manager has to become more a facilitator than leader; creating an environment which allows people to engage with each other, address issues, offer solutions and acting on lessons learned to make managing projects more effective.
  4. Develop emotional intelligence with colleagues
    People have to enjoy working on projects with you and that needs emotional intelligence; understanding how people on your team are going to function and interact with each other. Certain people have characteristics that need an individual approach to get the best response. That will make them feel more comfortable and you’ll get the best contribution out of them.
  5. Cultivate excellent stakeholder engagement skills
    You have to engage your stakeholders because they can’t be “managed”. It might be a chat over coffee or, conversely, a full-blown boardroom presentation. Speak to them in the way they want and you’ll get what you need from them.
  6. Be highly organized and always “on the ball”
    Spot the gaps in performance, attempt to predict problems before they appear and have a plan in place to address them. Also it’s important to give the team responsibility: if you think something is going wrong, give them tips about how to monitor the situation and incorporate their thoughts into building a solution.
  7. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
    If you don’t have these as a project manager, you’re in the wrong job. It’s about using rich communication channels which means face-to-face communications rather than email to solve problems.

To understand more about your own skills, including interpersonal skills – and skills gaps – get a 360-degree evaluation done: consider the feedback from others and put an improvement plan in place. Repeat your 360 evaluation every quarter and discuss training and development with your line manager or work on self-education.

Monitoring yourself and developing these skills is a constant challenge and it’s necessary to be honest with yourself to improve continually as a project manager.

Read more AXELOS blog posts from Allan Thomson

The challenges facing Project Managers

The imperative of closing the agile “adoption gap”

What project metrics are most effective when measuring true project progress?

Implementing a risk strategy within your organization

What are the Traits of the Perfect Project Manager?

Current rating: 5 (4 ratings)


30 Oct 2017 Carl K
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Great points! Easier said than done but I 100% agree.
21 Nov 2019 Paul Andrews
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Great article! Transparency and honesty are really important when it comes to communicating with your project team. Also, two-way communication is key because it will certainly help in avoiding confusion and setbacks, thus creating a healthy work environment.

Paul, HUSH Project Management & Consulting
11 Jul 2020 Lisa Smart
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Another thing that might help is using a good project management tool, for example kanbantool.com . Of course, you will still need to work on your project management skills, but from my experience, a good tool can make a lot of things easier.
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