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5 signs that you have a great project manager Hint: They manage well and people like them

by Colin Ellis (CIO) – Link to original Article.  

When I ask CIOs or senior managers to name two great project managers, most struggle to do so. That’s worrying when you consider that, according to Gartner, almost $4 trillion is spent on projects around the world.

Of course becoming a great project manager doesn’t happen overnight. They don’t just wake up, point at themselves in the mirror and say ‘great’ and that’s it.

Similarly it’s not something that can be taught from a textbook in a classroom. As with other leadership roles, developing a great project manager starts with the hiring process.

Forget psychometric testing and requesting copies of method certificates. Instead ask candidates how they bounced back from a failure; how they manage project sponsors; or what original ideas they have to create great teams. Future stars will understand these questions and have their answers ready.

A great project manager needs to have experienced failures and successes in order to learn what it takes to build great cultures that deliver consistently well.

They will benefit from a strong mentor who understands the stresses, strains and challenges of the role and can support them in getting better and better at what they do.

So having hired a good project manager and provided access to the right knowledge to help them grow, here are the five signs that they’re on the path to greatness.

1. They’re well liked

Remember the old saying ‘being respected is important, being liked isn’t’? Rubbish. Maybe it was true 10 years ago, but not anymore. In order to get anyone to do anything for you, you have to be a nice person.

You have to speak to people in a way that they like to be spoken to, be clear about what needs to be achieved, be interested about their lives outside work and display a little vulnerability every now and again to demonstrate that you’re human. A great project manager will do this.

They’ll always start the day with a ‘good morning’, the evening with a ‘good night’ and every question or interaction will be met with a smile and an easy going nature. The project area will be filled with good humour, chocolate biscuits (or fruit) and the table will never thumped.

Remember those projects that you enjoyed? It’s because they were led by nice people who got the job done and who made you feel good about yourself too.

2. They take all the blame and none of the credit

In an ideal world blame wouldn’t exist in our working cultures at all. However, despite my crusade to ensure that projects develop the right cultures in which to deliver, I still see the evil finger of blame pointed like a weather vane in a hurricane.

Great project managers are like umbrellas (I’m going with the full gamut of weather metaphors here). When the criticism is pouring down they ensure that the team is protected from it. They then ensure that the message passed down is presented as an opportunity to improve not a problem to be fixed.

Similarly, when the sun is out and the praise is beaming down, they ensure that the people who do the real work bask in it and are rewarded for it. When they talk about how successful a project has been, they talk about the strengths of the team and the qualities they have shown, never about themselves.

3. They involve everyone in planning

Every great project manager knows that in order for any project to succeed you need a great plan; and every great project manager knows that in order to get a great plan you need to involve everyone in the planning process.

Not everyone obviously, but they take the time identify those people who are impacted and can impact the project they’re leading and get them involved, including the CIO.

They create a productive, enjoyable environment. They want to ensure that they get the most out of the three hours because at the end of it they’ll have a plan that the team has built and believe in. With that, they know that they’re already halfway to delivering a successful project.

4. They put effort into building teams

Designing great teams takes lots of thought and time and is like completing a jigsaw (stay with me on this). Great project managers look at the team picture, lay out the pieces so that they know what they need to put where, then set about creating that picture over time.

Putting any old pieces together doesn’t work, neither does putting pieces together that create a different picture at the end.

A great project manager doesn’t accept the people who are ‘free’ or ‘on the bench’ unless they’re the right people and they’ll negotiate like a used car salesperson for the people that they really need, going to great lengths to recruit people into the vision that they have. Once the team is in place, they never stop leading it, building it, encouraging it, performance managing it and celebrating it.

5. They manage up well

A project manager can’t become great unless someone has their back. They’re prepared to take responsibility for everything concerned with the delivery of a project providing someone above them is doing all they can to support the project and remove roadblocks that may stand in their way.

As I’ve mentioned before, ensuring that this support and accountability is in a place is a project manager’s job and the great ones do this really well.

You know they’re doing it well because as a CIO you’re always informed, you never doubt the ability of the team to deliver and your peers speak positively about the project and the way it’s being led.

They do all of this because they are great leaders and respect your position and the challenges that brings.

Great project managers are rare. They’re great because they love what they do and never stop looking for better ways to do it. Do you have any great project managers? If so, what do they do that sets them apart from others? I’d love to hear your views.

Colin Ellis is a project management expert specialising in people and culture not method and task. He has over 20 years experience in the UK, NZ and Australia and his Conscious Project Management approach ensures that people with consistently great behaviours are at the forefront of project delivery. Find out more at his his website or follow him on Twitter @colindellis

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5 Main Responsibilities of a Project Manager

Dinner at a fine restaurant is always an assortment of dishes. Small portions of appetizers, soups and salads whet the palate and subdue the appetite so that a diner enjoys the real star of the show, the main course. Dessert completes the experience. Likewise, while project management entails many small activities, there are a handful of main responsibilities that successful project managers serve up.

The following are the:

5 Main Responsibilities of a Project Manager

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Four Ways to Judge Project Success


Ah, the ubiquitous triple constraint of project management. Every project must be on time, within budget, in scope – and meet quality standards. Adjust one element of the triple constraint and the other elements must shift accordingly. Unfortunately, meeting the triple constraint is often the only measure of project success, when other factors should be considered. These additional success factors should be listed in the Project Charter or other initiation documents. To verify that your project truly has been successful, here are:

Four Ways to Judge a Project Success

Projects that nail the triple constraint are not necessarily a success. Conversely, projects may be deemed successful without satisfying the triple constraint. Ask yourself the following four questions to determine whether or not your project can rightly be judged a success.

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4 Ways to Power Through Tough Projects

4 Ways to Power Through Tough Projects

February 20, 2013 – published on project

Sometimes changes on your projects are totally out of your control. For example, a key manager at a client may move on and his replacement is less than pleased with your company. What can you do to keep your nose to the grindstone and power through these tough times? Use the following four insights to help you move through such changes with your head held high.

It was a great project manager job. I spent the early part of the week at the corporate office catching up on what was going on in the company, meeting with developers and managers on my projects, and going out to lunch with friends. The rest of the week it was important for me to be onsite at our largest client’s office, since we were so integrated into what their company was doing.

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Ten Costs of Poor Quality of Projects


It costs money and time to build a quality solution. You may think that it is cheaper to skip many of the quality management steps, but this is usually not the case. It is important to recognize that there is also a cost to having poor quality. These costs may not be apparent when the project is progressing, but should definitely be taken into account as part of the full life cycle cost of the solution being delivered.

Ten Costs of Poor Quality

Examples of the cost of poor quality include:

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Manage Communication – Eight Steps to Manage Virtual Teams

Most everyone works in a team environment. Generally, the most effective teams are those located together. On the other hand, globalization is driving team staffing in the other direction.  The Internet, faster and more reliable communication, and collaborative tools are allowing people to come together on teams that are no longer co-located. Globalization is pushing work all over the globe, with independent people and teams working anywhere and everywhere. Individual and team training can be done easily through e-classes. These groups are referred to as “virtual” teams. They are real teams but they are referred to as “virtual” because they do not communicate and interact in a traditional face-to-face manner.

Manage Communication
Eight Steps to Manage Virtual Teams

There are some special techniques that can be used to manage these virtual teams.

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6 Steps to Delegate Tasks Effectively

Do you have trouble delegating tasks to people on your team? You shouldn’t. The following is a real-life example of what happens when someone can’t let go of tasks and delegate. I share a few practical reasons why people find it hard, and what you can do to have the confidence you need to delegate. Soon, you will be delegating tasks every chance you get!

“Forget it, I’ll just do it myself…” said Lisa, the technical director of the company where I worked.

Her reaction was always the same. Every time I asked Lisa for clarification about how she wanted something done, she would unpleasantly cut the conversation short and leave me with that response.

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