In spite of a growing project management presence, “accidental” project managers are still the norm, not the exception. Many companies continue to treat projects in a fairly unstructured manner and, as a result, do little to invest in their project managers. Many project managers have little authority or power in their role, and rhe majority of individuals who manage projects typcially do so while juggling other responsibilities. So, why are organizations remiss in supporting the project management role?
Many organizations do not know how to describe a good project manager. It’s true that a first-rate project managers sounds like a fantastical being-proficient at planning and problem-solving; adept at budgeting; an accomplished negotiator and master influencer who is able to lead, motivate, and communicate. Oh, and a first-rate project manager remains calm during the heigh of the storm. in other words, this is someone who must be able to handle it all. So many requirements, so few candidates. Organizations must be willing to define project manager requirements and invest in the project manager role to realize business success.
Project managers come in all shapes and sizes, with varying levels of training, experience education, and background. Some comme with professional project managment credentials, others do not. Some have spent their entire professional careers managing projects, while others havbe strong ambitions to become project managers. And there are many candidates who fall in between these extremes. The challenge for every organization is to know what you want in a project manager before you search for one.
Do not over-emphasize technical requirements when selecting project manager candidates. Limiting your search to individuals who have strong technical abilities, but lack professional decorum and interpersonal skills is not likely to produce optimum results when managing projects. Hiring project managers who are proficient in technical application of project management practice, but lack patience, tolerance, and understanding are not likely to attain great success. A project manager who can get the job done but leaves a trail of injured spirits in his or her path is a less-than-ideal candidate for any organization.
So, stop looking at the labels and credentials. Be brave and look for the Four E’s:
Enthusiasm: A successful project manager must really want to do the job. He or she must get intense enjoyment from leading a project. If a project manager is not enthusiastic about the project, it’s really hard for other team members to get on board.
Endurance: Project management requires high level of staying power. In the beginning, everything is unclear – the project goal, the project schedule, the project team, roles and responsibilities. A successsful project manager must endure all stages of project management, from project definition through project execution to project closure. Getting through one phase will enable you to reach the next.
Earnest: Project managers must be sincere and serious in intention. Sincerity will enable project managers to establish a strong coalition among team members, while keeping focused on getting the job done. A team’s ability to work together will get it through the tough spots.
Efficient: Project managers who work productively with minium wasted effort and with limited resources will always succeed. The best project managers will keep an eye on the target and establish a direct route to get there.
Lisa DiTullio & Associates