This question is not easy to answer. There is countless literature that deals with the topic and has already created everything from competence profiles to standards. However, before we devote ourselves to the actual question, it is first necessary to clarify why good project manager is important at all.
By definition, a project is a temporary effort aimed at creating a unique product or service. The task of the project manager is the planning, organization and control of these projects. There are fundamental differences in the nature of projects. While projects in production or product development are often characterized by very stringent planning, in management consulting they tend to be somewhat unstructured.
When it comes to the question of what a project manager should be able to do, these standards no longer focus on purely technical or methodical skills. Rather, they divide a project manager’s skills into different categories. According to the industry leaders, good project managers need not only technical project management know-how, but also leadership skills and knowledge of strategy and business management. But what do these points mean and how important are they?
Technical project management
Technical project management is the knowledge, skills, and behaviours required to perform the project manager role. They are the foundation that a project manager must master to be successful. In our increasingly complex and competitive world, technical project management is the foundation, but no more than the foundation. Possessing various other qualities is becoming increasingly important as a project manager.
One of those qualities is leadership. It describes the ability to lead, motivate and direct. Behind this are various soft skills, such as negotiation skills, communication, problem-solving skills and other interpersonal skills. This development is not surprising considering that project management means more than just numbers, spreadsheets and charts. Therefore, our team classifies this characteristic as the most important success criterion for a project manager in our internal survey.
Strategy and Business Management
One more important quality is strategy and business management. A good project manager not only has to master the basics of project management and also be a leader, but he also has a good understanding of the strategy and the business model of the project or the customer. He can classify events in the project accordingly and keep an eye on the big picture. This knowledge or ability is often referred to as domain expertise and is the third building block of a good project manager.
Clear planning and organizational skills include, for example, the definition of goals and the specification of the necessary steps so that the project can be completed on time and within budget. Does your project manager work in a structured way? Can he give clear instructions and does he communicate transparently? How does he organize his everyday work? Does he use software applications to plan his tasks in a structured and efficient manner?
The right amount of social skills and strong communication skills also show which of your team members would be suitable for the post of project manager. After all, a project manager has to adapt to the other employees, create acceptance for the project, offer constructive criticism and issue clear work orders.
A good project manager focuses entirely on his team and the goals of his project. However, the constellation of the team can change from order to order, so a high degree of flexibility and willingness to change is also required of project managers. Managing conflicts also requires good flexibility. There are different ways to manage conflicts in the workplace. Managers, on the other hand, are the constants in the company and therefore also the point of contact in possible crises.
A project manager should also have entrepreneurial skills. He must keep an eye on the existing budget and develop suitable strategies to use it optimally. He must also be able to identify and avoid possible risks at an early stage.
There are quite a few requirements that your employee must meet if you are considering them for a project manager position. Technical skills are not enough – as a manager, you have to assess whether your colleague has the overall package that a good project manager needs. Do you already have the perfect team leader in mind, but know from experience that they struggle with a self-confident leadership strategy? Do not worry. To a certain extent, it is possible to learn the aforementioned skills. It is important that these not only convey the methodological knowledge and the necessary tools, but also the necessary practical experience.
Specialist knowledge and methodological competence naturally form the basis for successfully managing projects in the business environment. However, a good project manager is primarily characterized by management skills and leadership qualities. There are various points to consider if someone wants to improve their project management skills. This includes a certain composure and a certain degree of self-confidence. This implies that a good project manager has already gained a lot of experience and is therefore routine. With the right amount of communication, he rounds off his profile. Of course, this complete package is not simply put into your cradle. Therefore, a good project manager needs to continuously work with all employees to become a little bit better every day through internal training and further education as well as certifications.