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Greetings!

For March 2011, Project Management Tipoffs from Arras People is back in our trusted format after a one-month absence. This time around, we wanted to delve into the detail of the successful project manager. Naturally, we've gone to those who know about what things can enhance the probability of a successful project manager, and we'll even talk to two specific people about their specific views on the matter.

 

Lindsay Scott is tireless for us this month as a contributor, first interviews the venerable Keith Baxter, the risk management guru, author and Managing Director/Founder of De-RISK. Tipoffs Editor Dan Strayer trolls the left side of the Atlantic to speak with Derek Huether PMP, the well-known Critical Path blogger, as we tackle his thoughts on that which a successful project manager has developed. We've asked for your help on the matter as well. Through several social outlets, we've culled together a general view of what factors into the makeup of a successful project manager, tackling the innate (skill set, experience, lessons from success & failure) and the learned (training, education and continuing professional development) and their roles in the development of project greats.

 

Scott double-dips for us this month, reviewing "Relationships Made Easy", a new title from Dr David Fraser on NLP, and we also re-open two regular features: our new series that answers some of the FAQs Arras People deals with regularly; and also get back to our monthly Q&A series.

 

SPECIAL NOTE: Tipoffs is now available in podcast form for all of our audio fans keen on learning the ins and outs on project management, programme management and recruitment in the PPM world. The March podcast is now available. Click here to learn more our podcasts and subscribe to our regular feed, or here to download us on iTunes. For the on-the-go, instantaneous information public, Project Management Tipoffs and Arras People are ready for you.

Would you like to advertise in the next issue of Project Management Tipoffs? We publish on the third Thursday of every month, and would like to have all advertising data (images, click-through links, invoices) taken care of the week before release. Contact us, check our running schedule and our advertising guidelines today.

 

A Profile in PM Success: Keith Baxter

A tremendously successful project manager, Keith Baxter runs both De-RISK and the blog within the risk management company.

Words: Lindsay Scott

To some, Keith Baxter is the founder and Managing Director of De-RISK. To others he is the author of the Fast Track to Success: Risk Management. And to many Tweeters he is @de_risky - "the exciting adventures of a risk management specialist..."

Keith has "survived" the transition from being a Project Manager, to a Programme Manager before specialising in risk management and setting up his own successful consultancy business. We wanted to understand how he did this, what lessons were learned and what he might do differently.


How did you get into Project Management and what were the key events and crossroads in your career?
At University I studied Electronic Engineering and Robotics and was sponsored by the MoD who I naturally joined on graduation. The MoD environment was good on PM process but very poor on execution.

After a couple of years the culture got to me and I moved to a large Defence contractor. I got involved with what was then the largest real-time system development in the World. This was a five-year programme of work that progressed through 4.5 years before collapsing in a heap!

What I noticed was that the extensive PM processes were all focused on progress to date and problems already identified – there was nothing looking ahead and as a consequence, 9/10th of the testing was signed off before the full system test showed that the system design was fundamentally flawed. The project ultimately finished five years late and was promptly mothballed as the threat had changed!Keith Baxter, Managing Director, De-RISK

Over the next few years I dabbled with “state of the art” risk management techniques and observed wildly different degrees of success. Then in the early 1990s, I was lucky enough to be part of a team that developed the ABCD risk management process. Our brief was simple, look at what goes wrong with current risk management techniques, and fix them.

We used ABCD, all over the World while I was with AT Kearney, on all kinds of programmes and businesses. I then I left to set-up De-RISK in 2001 when I realized that the business model was better executed by a SME than a large Management Consultancy.


What was it that convinced you to set-up your own business?
Working in a field as specialized as risk management, clients value your expertise - you are not just another generic PM resource. In AT Kearney we would work with clients on a full-time basis but this didn’t always work well as clients can only take change at a reasonable rate and ABCD can be implemented very quickly which can over-load them. I realized that the business model would be more effective if we could work part-time with clients and, ideally, have two or more clients going at once. Of course this not always possible and therefore day-rates have to be higher and value-based to cover the inevitable down-time. This has worked well now for 10 years and we have never discounted rates, apart for our work with charities that we discount heavily.


What pushed your career from middling to successful?
I think that specializing in risk management was the key decision. There are a lot of people working in project management and unless you can distinguish yourself by delivering a high-profile project on time budget and meeting all key objectives, it’s very difficult to stand out. Specialising transformed my career in AT Kearney and I believe has been the main reason for De-RISK’s success.


What words of advice would you give to those in project management or people looking to switch careers into it?
Try to specialize, as I said earlier – but this can be taken much further. As many people know, managing a project is not all about the “sexy stuff”. There is a lot of administrative stuff such as doing accounts and reporting that some people like and some do it only because they have to. I was definitely in the latter category – I hated all the business reporting that large corporations require and it was this that finally drove me from being a programme manager to consulting. But you don’t have to take the consulting route. If you don’t like the admin side of project management then delegate to someone who does and then you can concentrate on the “sexy stuff”.

Lindsay Scott is a Director of Arras People. To read more of her work on project management at How to Manage a Camel, click here.
 

A Profile in PM Success: Derek Huether

Derek Huether runs a successful blog, The Critical Path. He is a personification of successful project management

Words: Dan Strayer

Derek Huether has a lot of things going for him that make him a legitimate success story in the field of project management. He’s man behind one of the most popular project management blogs in the world; the man synonymous with the Critical Path; a certified PMP®; a proud signatory of the Agile Manifesto; and someone with a platform of achievement and social media awareness that has made him one of the most respected project managers in the competitive Greater Washington D.C. area.

Our recent discussion with Derek bore out an intriguing revelation: those “oh so crucial” soft skills had manifested themselves before project management had ever entered his mind as a career possibility.


How exactly did you end up in project management? Tell us about an event, development or crossroads in your working life that sparked your move to project management?
The single critical event that took me down my path was dealing with a stakeholder on my inaugural project. I wasn’t officially wearing a PM hat at the time. Rather, I was the QA Manager for a small application development company. The president of the company saw I was having success with the internal people I interacted with. None of the peoples could deal with this one particular stakeholder. The project was in jeopardy. How bad was this stakeholder? Let’s say you don’t have agreement on the initial design of an application screen. The one piece of feedback you get is “I don’t like that”. Your response is, “Could you please be more specific?” The stakeholder response is “I don’t know. I know that I don’t like what I see but I’ll know what I like when I see it.” Sounds a little like the American comic strip (Dilbert) written and drawn by Scott Adams. Unfortunately it was the reality. I needed to find a way to move the project forward. I really engaged the stakeholder and got to the root of why she was being so difficult. Once we developed a better relationship, my team was able to turn the project around and got it deployed to production. I was hooked.


Derek Huether, author and renowned blogger.Which person stood out for you in your career – a mentor or champion and what kind of difference did they make to you in your career?
Now that I think about it, that’s a very enlightening question. When I was what you could define as a “Traditional” Project Manager, I had nobody. No mentor; no champion. Those who were my superiors played by much different rules than the teams. It really frustrated me that I felt nobody was looking out for me or willing to help me, unless I was willing to buy their time. Counter that with when I started engaging the Agile community, I had people coming out of the woodwork to offer me guidance and support. I could list several who just stepped up. It’s probably why I’m such a proponent for Agile teams and servant-leadership.


IMMEDIATE FOLLOW UP: Your company president saw that you could manage stakeholders early on, and saw fit to latch onto that skill to handle a problematic stakeholder. Perhaps inadvertently, the Big Kahuna had become something of a leading force for your path to project manager.
You may be correct about my former company president. He knew I could get along and talk to just about anyone. This one stakeholder had such horrible communication skills. I think of it like the Life cereal commercials from the early 70's. There was this little boy named Mikey. Remember him? The difference is Mikey hated everything and I seemed to love everything. Perhaps that's what he saw in me. I don't know if I can stress this enough: project management isn't about controlling things. It's about how you interact with people.


What event/development could you point to that pushed your PPM expertise from middling to successful? What did you learn about yourself professionally at that moment?
That event came when I was hired as the Manager of Software Engineering for a rapidly growing start-up. I was asked to implement Agile Scrum while helping guide the department through an audit (the company was going public). I really had to understand the SDLC and needs of the stakeholders. I needed to figure out how to inspire and empower the teams, while still having a defined process that could pass an audit. That job and the time I spent with that company is where I converted theory into reality. That’s when I started blogging about my experiences.   


What fundamental lesson have you learned in PPM that could only come on the job, as opposed to book or training course could have ever shed light on?
I learned that we manage people, not resources. I learned that if you take care for your team through by listening, being empathetic, by being a steward and empowering them, they will deliver more value than any well managed "resources" ever could.


What elements/skills in the project manager’s toolbox (scheduling, risk, stakeholders, etc.) came easy to you early on? Likewise, what elements have been the most difficult to add, or have been the most interesting to develop?
The easiest skill was stakeholder engagement. I’m big on the soft skills. I try to understand the needs of people and then try to help them. That’s it. Don’t have an ulterior motive. Just help people.

 

The hardest skill for me to develop is using Earned Value Management (EVM). I know some people seem to focus their entire careers around it. I respect that. But, I’ve never been able to appreciate it and I don’t like to use it. Sure, I can find the SPI and CPI and calculate the Earned Value of a (future) deliverable. I can do the math. But, at the end of the day, it’s just an academic exercise to me. I’ve seen too many people manipulate the numbers to get their SPI and CPI closer to 1.0. What value does that offer!?


IMMEDIATE FOLLOW UP: When you talk about manipulating the numbers in EVM, I was reminded of the phrase “juking the stats” in “The Wire”. Politicians, police departments, media conglomerates – the idea is to manipulate the numbers to show you’re putting out quality, climb the career leader (election, re-election, promotion), but the problem persists and rots from the inside. I don’t know that EVM holds THAT much sway, but if it does...ho boy. Doesn’t bode well for the lasting benefits a project is supposed to provide.
EVM is a real thorn in my side. It's an indicator that is so easily manipulated. If a project delivers real value, the EVM is kind of forgotten about. But, if it does NOT deliver value, EVM becomes this crazy game. The EVM was so heavily manipulated (I won't name the program) that when the auditors came in and started asking questions, the CIO and 2 Program Directors retired. I don't believe any of them ever "got it". They merely wanted more money for a program that was not delivering value. They forgot what the goal was. You can't twist the facts forever. But, many out there think they can get to retirement before the S really hits the fan.


What words of advice do you have for those in project management, looking to enter the field after graduation, or switching careers into it?

Know that there will always be a need for project managers. Never stop trying to refine your craft. Never rest on your laurels. Remember that good project managers work for their teams, not the other way around. As Seth Godin once wrote, “Go, give a speech. Go, start a blog. Go, ship that thing that you’ve been hiding. Begin, begin, begin and then improve. Being a novice is way overrated.”

Dan Strayer is the editor of Arras People's Project Management Tipoffs newsletter. To read more of his work on project management at How to Manage a Camel, click here.

 

Modern Views on Characteristics of a Successful Project Manager

Project managers worldwide have forged a series of views on the components of an individual's project management success.

Words: Dan Strayer

When you want to create a serious dialogue on a matter concerning like-minded individuals both internal and external to your company, you’ll often do well to tap into the knowledge, expertise and experience of those external resources. Provided there are no competitive conflicts of interest, that is.

None of that here. As we try to find out the key elements that the successful project manager has going for themselves, we’ve used social media platforms to gather input. After soliciting input externally on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, the dialogue is an enlightened one - the contributors did their part, creating a solid atmosphere of discussion with worldwide know-how, vigour & first-hand testimony on PM success.

There were three particular questions we sought answers for to better understand PM Success:

  1. What job skills came easiest to you?
  2. What skills did you have to work at the most?
  3. What do you think makes a successful project manager?
  4. What on-the-job lessons have you learned that no book or classroom could ever teach you?


Delegating Tasks
Project managers have to keep the big picture in mind, mostly ensuring the tasks be left to a bought-in collection of project team members. The elements force the good project managers to be hands off, but only to an extent - after all, if a team member needs help and possibly even mentoring, the PM would do well to wear that hat when necessary. But how do you walk that fine line in delegating roles: can you truly strike a good balance between being attached to your team’s needs while maintaining a healthy distance to stay in tune with the big picture?

"In developing a common vision, (my strengths are) making the project sensible and achievable and helping the team discover how to be as effective as possible," says Craig Brown, a project & programme management professional and business analyst based in Australia and widely known for his Better Projects blog posts. "How do I get this done? I am a systems thinker and start at the biggest possible context. I try to speak to the sponsor and clients as equals - or partners - in a venture. And, I feel and act like I have an obligation to the team to enable them to succeed. The more I work at this, the more I focus on pushing all decisions out to other people and become a facilitator. Which is counter intuitive because my early success was built on making decisions."

Certified PMP & blogger Robert Kelly agrees with Brown’s assessment.

"It’s a tight rope we walk," says the North Carolina-based Kelly. "Do too much and you lose reason for a project team; get bogged down, and you end up micromanaging things. Facilitate too much and you may become too disconnected to see underlying problems and team could also perceive your delegation as laziness."

Gurprriet Siingh-Joy, Head of Organisation Capability & Innovation for Welspun Group in Mumbai, responded via Twitter with a similar mind for managing the balance and uplifting the team.

"Enable, don’t police. Support people to meet time and cost instead of just telling them they’re behind," he wrote.


People Management & Soft Skills
Are you a people person? If so, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you’d make a great project manager. But figuratively speaking, you've got an unimpeded shot at the eight-ball.

The Twitter respondents especially pointed to relationship management as a crucial element of the successful PM. Nirmal Singh, chair for PMI UK's M&N events, responded when asked about what makes a project successful: "Someone who builds relationships very quickly and can show empathy with both clients and the project team."

Gurprriet Siingh-Joy seconds the notion, telling us that project managers have "to be assertive and manage relationships (while having a) quick response time (and an) ability to identify and monitor key indicators of project success."

With the variety of people and roles involved in a project’s delivery, the project manager’s ability to effectively balance the personalities, needs, desires and buy-in on the project’s benefits is an invaluable gift in the arsenal.

Jesus "Jesse" Armenta, a longtime consultant in senior project management services based in California, said he gets a sense of triumph through getting team members on board with the goals of the project. Some project managers refer to this concept as "buy in".

"Enrolling your team members on a project is vital to the success or outcome," Armenta wrote. "Managing projects is somewhat of a 'organized juggling act' per se and witnessing the positive impact it has on your team, even with its challenges, is very empowering."

Paul Slater of Muschcado Consulting and the Mushcado blog feels that peaks and valleys in project morale go with the territory.

"I’d say (the most important things are) the ability to look beyond the pain and grief of the day-to-day and focus on what MUST be done," he wrote us through Twitter.

To piggyback off of Siingh-Joy’s earlier point about supporting team members, Dr. Ed Wallington stressed to us that the project manager becomes just as successful through good listening skills as they do through handing out orders or responsibilities.

"Project management is listening, listening some more, (then) asking why, asking why again, confirming strategy alignment, and then delivering," says the renowned Programme, Project and Business Development Manager, APM member and blogger.

The ability to develop good relationships tailored for each project stakeholder falls into an invaluable bag of resources known more widely as "soft skills". Slater swears by their importance as a good indicator of a project manager’s being deemed "successful".

"I have to say, it’s the so called ‘soft skills’ of working with people and understanding what makes each individual within a project team and client organisation tick that is a winner each time," he told us in the comments section of our How to Manage a Camel blog post.

Terence Burke, a Liverpool-based freelance project manager, backed up that sentiment. "I agree with Paul. It's all well and good being well-qualified, well-experienced and even technically gifted, but if your ‘soft skills’ are lacking then you’re in trouble. These are too often overlooked, yet without them there the one thing really needed to ensure a successful project, good communication, fails from the start."

Mark Krigsman, a Boston-based CEO of Asuret, Inc. and blogger at IT Project Failure on ZDNet, may have said it best of all in one tweet: "Great project managers possess excellent judgment and the wisdom of experience."


Training & Education
You'll likely have noticed up to this point that our respondents haven’t delved much into the matter of training, certification and education. With good reason: in spite of the recent certification boom, especially with PRINCE2 in the UK, the hiring mentality amongst organisations with project management departments revolved on the basis of real-life experience coming first, and CPD/education coming later in life, whether in conjunction with work or simply as a mature student. Yet today’s marketplace sees degrees in project management now more widely available than ever, not to mention a wealth of certifications and the growing desire of employers requiring them as a crucial box tick in hiring practices.

In spite of this, practicing PMs that responded didn't talk much about the crucial role training plays. Moreover, just because companies are recognising certifications more widely, it hasn’t necessarily forged a hiring climate shift to a "Education followed by Experience" mentality - especially that experience which allows you to show off those soft skills.

One interesting take that addressed this came from Peter Taylor.

"My observation over the years has been that the ‘technicians’ do not succeed as well as the ‘relationship orientated’ project managers," says the renowned author of The Lazy Project Manager and veteran of the field. "If everything stays on plan and on track, no problem, but when that doesn't happen, then those who have invested in the ‘people side’ and built good relationships with the key players are far more likely to keep the project going and deliver to the satisfaction of the majority."

This is not to put training matters out to pasture - far from it. The goal instead is to give project management training and CPD a more proper perspective: some form of it is important in the grander scheme of things, particularly in getting a CV noticed. But in terms of application in a job sense, it seems that some qualifications are viewed as the ticket to PM employment, rather than, say, a helpful addendum to your professional development.

You'll also notice the fourth question from the beginning of this article: it was about the experience of being a project manager and the inherent lessons you could learn from it as opposed to a training/educational mechanism. Granted, that means there's some pre-disposition against training, but don't blame us for offering the bait: the fish eats what looks good! Here are two particularly intriguing responses to the question...

Robert Kelly: "I don’t think books or classes can truly teach you about ethics in project management. In a world where vendor selection, budget management, change requests and escalations are the norm; it is too easy to come across a friend at a vendor or to be in a situation where you may have to escalate a Sr. Mgr in the firm. This comes down to integrity, leadership, and sometimes positioning that you learn through the years of being exposed to these various scenarios."

Clare Hancock: "One skill that you can only really learn on the job is saying 'No' while making people believe you have actually said 'Yes'. Managing and stopping scope creep is one of the most important factors in a successfully managed project."

Classrooms can only teach you so much about everyday life skills, and project management is not immune.


Failure
One attention-getter that may surprise you is the notion of how big a role failure can play in the greater scheme of a successful project manager’s development. Whether said failure happened to you personally or has been charted and studied in your company’s Organisational Process Assets collection, the wealth of lessons available from failure can pay dividends for your future PM success.

And as Taylor learned, much of failure in project management is rooted in poor planning.

"The most I’ve learnt was from a project that went badly wrong and showed me everything that no textbook ever talked about (at least at that time)," he says. "By experiencing the pain of the 'dark side' of project troubles, I was able to realize the benefit of effort up front."
 

The Inner Entrepreneur
In conclusion, ambition and spirit seem to be another key component in project management success. Kelly, for one, is a big proponent for the existence of an entrepreneurial spirit within the project manager.

"Successful PMs need an entrepreneurial spirit about them," he says. "We speak about lessons learned, templates, etc so much but this is far from a repeatable profession. You need to understand the concepts, approach, framework of project management but you need to have the inner entrepreneur about you...ability to cast the vision, manage competing resources, flexibility that comes with change, etc."

"After all, most projects are tackling a new process...a new tech and we are often working in an environment of ‘you don’t know what you don’t know.’ I can teach you how to use MS Project, build a WBS, etc."

It’s a sentiment that Hancock, a London-based Product Architect and veteran technical project manager, backed up in our LinkedIn discussion.

"I like the entrepreneur analogy. You really have to own what you are doing to get the best result possible," she says. "Anyone can administrate project plan spreadsheets but creating a great product needs that proactive spirit, even if the product isn’t yours. Make others believe in what you are all delivering and how well you are going to deliver it."

Dan Strayer is the editor of Arras People’s Project Management Tipoffs newsletter. To read more of his work on project management at How to Manage a Camel, click here.

FAQ of the Month

FAQ of the MonthArras People & Project Management Tipoffs this month welcome you back to a feature that reveals more about some of the Frequently Asked Questions we've answered recently.

This section is here to help you realise where to get help with your most basic and far-reaching questions alike. With just a little search, you can use the Arras People website to get ahead in your hunt for gainful PPM employment and advice. From time to time, we'll go beyond FAQs with this running feature as well - we're also happy to point you towards the tidbits of information you can do with, be it a handout, a testimonial, or reasons as to why a candidate can turn to Arras People. The main idea is to channel your reguarly-asked inquiries into sections of the website that are set up to deal with them in a convenient fashion.

This month's Frequently Asked Question:


Image by sarbathory and re-used with permission.

Book Review - Relationships Made Easy

Relationships Made EasyAuthor: Dr David Fraser
Publisher: HotHive Books
Size: 288 pages

Reviewed by Lindsay Scott

Before I give you the lowdown on this remarkable book here is the background on how I came to review it in the first place. I met David Fraser through Twitter (@drdavidfraser) and I guess we connected up because David is a Programme Manager. I noticed from his information that he had written a book so I asked for a copy to review it. I specifically asked for the book because the title suggests that it focuses on a softer skill area which is important in project management – relationships. I received the book (excellent cover rave theme circa 1990s with the smileys) and put it to one side for a few weeks; I must confess I saw the letters NLP on the back and it put me off.

Now I don’t know how many people also feel the same about those letters – NLP – but if it is any of these reasons; “relative disinterest in the science of how our minds work, the perception that it can be used to manipulate, its jargon” it sounds like you are in a similar mind to me. However this book is not NLP heavy, if anything it is practical and applied psychology, and who can deny that learning about well structured psychological ideas and practical approaches are a waste of time – not only in our day to day lives but more specifically in our roles of project management practitioners?

So if you’re uninterested in understanding more about yourself and your relationships with others you’re probably dead and would have no use for a book like this. If you are interested, read on.

Fraser’s approach in this book is based on sincerity and a real passion for helping others unlock their potential. Throughout the book there are references to David’s own life – where new approaches or new ways of thinking about relationships have made a real difference to his life. Is this a self-help book? Of course it is – in  the sense that there are lots of practical exercises you can undertake to firstly understand your own psychology. However, it is also a help others book, too – Step 1 and arguably the most important is Attention to Others.

The book features 12 steps – more than anything these steps give some semblance of order for the reader;

"We start with behaviours and attitudes, then move onto skills to do with thinking styles, communication and personality, proceeding after that to work with more deeply-held things such as values, beliefs and our sense of identity."

At the beginning of each Step there is a before and after page which gives you an indication of what or how you will change if you undertake some or all of the practical elements of the Step. For example, Step 2 Attitude; before you may blame others (take responsibility), treat failures of communication as someone else's problem (see the effect of your communication as something you control), be stuck in problems (be solution oriented) and so on.

Each step includes the NLP theory, however David is deft at changing the language to easily understood layman psychology so you don’t get hung up on jargon. Within each Step there are real life examples (which do well at giving the text further context) and “steps to take” (the practical bits for you to try out).

Once I started reading I must admit I couldn’t put it down, mainly because it is simply fascinating stuff. As I was reading, various people were popping into my head, and snippets of conversations I’d had were coming back to me; it was almost a “Eureka!” moment because all the Steps made total sense. I say “almost” a “Eureka!” moment, because this book has a lot in it. It is not a book that is read just once, understood, put into practice straightaway and never picked up again.

On my first read-through, the genuine takeaways for me were two-fold. One: the “systems for thinking”, which is the Visual, Auditory, Kinaesthetic, Audio-Digital preferences we have and the book explores how we can detect what other people’s preferences are and how we can use this understanding to better our interaction with them. I read it and immediately over dinner that night learnt something new about someone I’ve known for 11 years. The second area that stuck in my mind straightaway was something many of us think we have an understanding of already – body language or, more accurately, non-verbal communication. If you think arms folded just means being defensive, I reckon you will enjoy Step 6 very much.

This is a book that will sit on the bookshelf and be picked up time and time again and it is a book that is well-pitched and perfect for the project management audience (how important is communication again?). We need more focus on the softer skills aspects of what a project practitioner does and this book should be required reading for communications and relationship building.

DO YOU WANT TO REVIEW A BOOK FOR TIPOFFS? Contact us today.

Q&A

“I’d be interested in knowing what key characteristics the new project manager should have going for them when they walk into the job.”  – Ali, Coventry

Mick Hides is a project management consultant for Arras People

Mick Hides of Arras People says: Thanks for your question – the first day in a new role is an exciting time for a project manager although this can be both a positive and negative experience. The characteristics required to make an early good impression depend to a certain degree on the nature of the project. However certain characteristics tend to appear more frequently than others. I have listed, what I feel are the most prominent characteristics (in no particular order):

Expectations - Stepping into an organisation for a new role is a daunting prospect and especially so for Project Managers who will be looked to as a leader. Everyone will have different expectations as to what they expect of you as a new project manager.  From the project sponsor to the team members, each will have their own needs. The project manager must manage these expectations.  This does not mean accepting everyone’s view but rather understand that varying expectations exist.

Communication - This leads us onto communication, arguably one of the key characteristics for a project manager. Projects always involve people at some level and because of this ensuring that everyone has the same perception of what is being undertaken is critical to the success of the project. The first days of a new role a project manager will do well to remember the adage "two ears one mouth". In other words listening to what people are saying will provide significant information in terms of the reality of a project as well as the perceptions created by varying groups.

Leadership - A time will come when the project manager must exhibit leadership. Styles of leadership vary and it is important to consider the two previous characteristics in determining the most appropriate style to use. Get in right and you will quickly establish yourself as a project manager to be respected; get I wrong and you will make life very difficult for yourself.

Confidence - The Project Manager is the focal point of the project and the person to who all turn. A project manager who presents a confident demeanour creates confidence throughout the project. The starting point for this however, is to be confident in your own abilities. If you have been appointed as project manager, then someone (possibly more) believe that you are capable of running the project. As you walk into the office be confident and most people will look to your lead.

In summary understanding the expectations of the stakeholders, employing good communication skills (especially listening), amending your leadership style to suit the circumstances and above all projecting an air of confidence will characterise your project management approach.

How does your experience compare with this? Have I missed anything out? Let me know.

If you would like to put a question to Mick or any of our other project management consultants, contact us and it could end up in a future edition of the Tipoffs Q&A. Also, be sure to check out our Project Management Careers clinic / Project Management Careers Advice pages for more advice related to project management careers.

Got a question for us? Contact us today.

Social Media Roundup

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From Arras People & How to Manage a Camel

 

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Vacancy of the Month

Arras People Project Management Recruitment Vacancies

To see current project management job vacancies from Arras People, please visit the Job Board

Project Management Training

Project Management Training Directory

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PPM Careers Clinics

The Project Management Careers Clinic from Arras People is a 30 minute one-on-one consultation with project management practitioners looking for careers advice.

The careers clinic can be accessed by anyone looking for help and advice in these areas:

  • Facing redundancy
  • Just started looking for a new job
  • Creating a better CV
  • Long term unemployment
  • Looking to get into project management?
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Previous Editions of Tipoffs

Project Management Tipoffs Archive

Project Management Training - February 2011

Arras People launches the PM Training Directory with a variety of contributions from our newest sponsors in this special edition of Tipoffs.


Portfolio Management Guidance - January 2011

With a new guidance ready to discern the best-practice format for portfolio management, Tipoffs takes a look at what the practitioners affected by it have to say.


What Is and What Should Never Be - December 2010

We look back at what was in 2010, what will be in 2011, some of the aspirations for project managers going forward and divide relevance of experience and training.


Benchmarks for 2011 - November 2010

Day rates and salaries are explored for project managers, plus we formally introduce the PM Benchmark Survey 2011 and our hopes for the subsequent report.


Public Sector in Crisis - October 2010

Freezes in the public sector were eminent; did it mean bad tidings for project managers? We offered ways for the public PM to look attractive to the private sector.