What can project managers do to improve their skills and capabilities and – in turn – the performance of project teams?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?