Are you a leader who knows how to communicate with team members and efficiently organize projects? Then, becoming a project manager is an apt career path for you. You may be wondering how to become a project manager. This blog will provide you with knowledge on skills and traits to become a project manager. However, before knowing how to become a project manager, let us understand what a project is and who is a project manager.
What is a Project?
A project is a temporary undertaking dedicated to developing a product or a service within a stipulated time using a certain amount of resources, decided in advance. Every project follows a plan that is targeted toward achieving maximum benefits. Resources are then allocated to a project for its successful completion.
Who is a Project Manager?
Project manager – a designation that communicates importance, responsibility, and success. It is a job role in various industries, including manufacturing, construction, information technology (IT), oil and gas, energy, utilities, and others. Attaining a project manager’s level is a goal post for many professionals, and the ambition usually begins from their early days on a project team.
A project team needs to be shown direction, supervised, and provided with solutions for problems to ensure a minimum hindrance in completing their tasks. This is where a project manager comes into the picture.
What Does a Project Manager Do?
The project manager is in charge of the day-to-day management of the project and must be knowledgeable about the six aspects of project management: scope, schedule, finance, risk, quality, and resources. Project manager responsibilities typically include the following:
- Planning what work needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and who will do it
- Examining and managing the risks associated with a specific project
- Ensuring that the work is done to the appropriate standard, motivating the project team co-ordinating work done by different people
- Ensuring that the project runs on time and within budget, dealing with project changes as needed ensuring that the project delivers the expected outcomes and benefits
Not everyone can handle the responsibility of being a project manager. Apart from having a strong sense of organization and ownership, they should be ready to take accountability for the success and failure of the project. The project manager plays a key role in the project’s planning and implementation, including cost budgeting, resource allocation, risk management, client or external stakeholder management, etc. Roadmaps for project managers visualize a timeline of project objectives, tasks, and assignments.
Purpose of Hiring a Project Manager
Irrespective of the domain, project managers are essential in almost all organizations. They are accountable for maintaining the projects in an organized manner in the company. Also, responsible for responsibilities to all the team members and ensuring that the project progresses smoothly.
Key Skills and Competencies of a Project Manager
To become a project manager, they must possess various organizational strategies that could be used for various projects. These skills are considered to be important skills to have a booming career in project management.
To become a project manager, you should perform on the following skills and abilities.
Ability to Devise Strong Strategy:
Strategic thinking is an important trait of a project manager. One of the key aspects of project management is to develop a strong strategy that analyses the present situation of an organization and formulates an effective plan in line with it. In addition, a project manager should be able to build real-world knowledge about the business scenario and customer expectations and produce a strategy to achieve deliverables.
A project manager must communicate crisply and clearly at all levels within their team. They represent the organization to stakeholders and are the key link between the team and the organization. Objectives and process workflows should be communicated clearly to the team, and results and other vital information should be to the stakeholders. Effective communication may also comprise elements of persuasiveness and negotiation, depending on the situation.
Competency to Lead:
A project manager should have a good rapport with their team and know every member individually. They should be able to identify the key strengths and weaknesses of everyone in the team and work towards getting the best out of them. Being approachable is key so that team members can signal issues and hindrances without hesitation or fear.
Once every team member’s strengths and weaknesses are identified, it becomes easier to delegate tasks according to an individual’s potential. For example, a client wants a logo to be developed within a few hours. Project manager John Adams can get it done by either Richard or Nancy. Richard is extremely creative, and he designs the best logos. Nancy, on the other hand, is reasonably good and gets the work done extremely fast. In this situation, John delegates the work to Nancy, as getting the logo ready within a short time is the key task at the moment. But he also asks Richard to help her with his creative capabilities. This way, John gets the best out of both and completes the work within the required timeframe.
Keep Calm in Difficult Times:
A project is planned to deliver the product or service on time and within budget. However, not all projects run as planned. Unforeseen obstacles crop up, which may lead to difficult situations for the team. In these situations, the project manager must stay calm and not freak out. If they do, the team members will lose interest in the project. The project manager needs to explain to the key stakeholders why the situation occurred and the plan of action to correct it. They should be able to win the trust of stakeholders and senior managers with exemplary problem-solving and communication skills.
Quick Learner and Teacher:
A project manager must thoroughly understand the subject they are dealing with. It is essential to be a quick learner and absorb new knowledge related to the focus areas of the project as well as for professional development through project management certifications such as Online PMP Training Course and PRINCE2 Training. In addition to this trait, a project manager should look out for the team’s development. Regular meetings should be conducted to ensure everyone is in line with the latest best practices to ensure consistency in the output.
A project manager should be an excellent organizer, with complete control over the implementation of the project – from documentation ranging from emails, reviews, memos, change reports, risks documentation, and specialist documents, to conducting meetings, scheduling, and managing resources and communication. The project output can be affected significantly if they miss out on any of the abovementioned points.
Have Cultural Awareness:
There are essentially two aspects of an organization – formal and informal. The formal aspect deals with strategy, planning, project, product, output, and relevant documentation. The informal part deals with the different cultures that already exist, and managers often overlook them. A good manager should be well aware of the cultural diversity within their team, and any actions taken should reflect this awareness. This will be helpful for the manager to maintain a good rapport with team members and get work done with ease.
Good Decision Maker:
The success or failure of a project depends largely on the decisions taken by the project manager. Every decision should justify the business case, and the manager should ensure that the project is not deviating from its set goals. Sometimes, unforeseen circumstances crop up, due to which the manager may have to make critical decisions without having much time to think. Such situations define how good or bad a manager is. Therefore, it must be ensured that urgent decisions do not compromise the project’s intended outcome.
How to Become A Project Manager?
So, there are primarily two ways you can become a project manager, one is through formal education, and the other one is the self-made project manager. The following are the project manager’s requirements:
- Before getting a project manager degree, the first way you complete a degree is to apply for a project manager job. For this, there are MS degree programs in project management and MBA degrees in project management. According to a recent Burning Glass Labor Insight report, 34 percent of project management job postings preferred or required a graduate degree in addition to requiring PMP certification. So having a degree in project management can make it easier for you to get a job or even advance your career as a project manager.
- In a second way, if you do not want to get a degree but still want to become a project manager, you will have to seek out every opportunity to develop your project manager skills and knowledge. I will mention a few tips to help you learn about project management and become a project manager.
How to Get into Project Management
You can start by reading books, online blogs, or youtube videos, or opt for online courses, which will help you understand project management in detail. To pen down a few, you can refer to the book Project Management Body of Knowledge or PMBOK, which can be easily and largely accessed online or in printed format. This will help you learn the basic framework involved in project management. Other resources you can refer to our PRINCE2 and Scrum. Finally, in-depth training offered directly by the Project Management Institute can be an invaluable source of guidance.
Attend Workshops, Conferences, or Local Networking Events
It will allow you to learn about new industry trends and meet and learn from experienced project managers. The benefits of this would be you will learn the best practices of project management and understand how to tackle problems as a project manager.
Learn From a Mentor
You can learn a lot from them just by watching them. See and learn how they tackle issues and interact with shareholders, team members, and all other project aspects.
Your project management experience demonstrates your ability to lead a group of individuals. In addition, if you have experience managing multiple things in a company or a team, you have a higher chance of getting hired as a project manager.
Improve your Project Management Skills
I have mentioned the skills in the previous section. Now the question is, how to improve these skills? So, most skills will only improve as you practice them. The more you practice, the better you get at communication, mentoring, problem-solving, etc. With these skills, Project Management is efficient instead of a practice area full of unknown variables. The other thing you can do to improve your skills is to watch someone you think has good project management skills, usually your mentor, and learn from their actions and decisions.
Based on the methodology outlined in the Project Management Body of Knowledge or PMBOK, earning project management certification will show employers that you have the skills required to manage the demands of most projects. This will also be helpful for job interviews, as companies need certified people because it gives them assurance concerning quality. Certifications can also be an asset to an individual’s career. So the different certifications in project management are PRINCE2, CAPM, and PMP. All these certifications are globally recognized credentials that impart knowledge of best practices in Project Management.
Ways to Succeed As A Project Manager
They Focus on Customer’s Needs
The single biggest factor of a project manager is to cater to the customer’s needs as they are the nucleus of a business. Therefore, highly successful project managers tend to explore and uncover customer needs. They do it by inquiry or learning about the client’s business.
They Build a Great Team
The team is the biggest asset for a Project manager. Their main motive is to understand each team member’s strengths and motivation. To encourage the team, they are not required to tell them what needs to be done but to coach them to find the right solution and make them decide on their own.
Highly successful Project managers have learned to value and fully leverage the team by delegating anything that can potentially be done by someone else. By delegating, they develop the necessary skill set and save time to focus on other important factors such as customer relationships, communication, leading, and motivating the team. If they don’t attend to these important activities, nobody will, and the project starts to derail.
They Challenge The Status Quo
It’s not enough to turn up for work and assign a project as businesses used to do in the past. Highly successful Project managers are mindful of how they can quickly assign project activities. They challenge the status quo, assign what technologies can be employed, which extra benefits can be delivered, and how the process can improve. In addition, project managers are key in monitoring the team and expecting their members to develop new ideas.
They Have a Strategic Outlook
The most sustainable projects add value in the short and long term. The project must be strategically viable and have the desired effect on the organization’s strategic business objectives.
Achieve Great Relationships with Project Stakeholders
Highly successful Project managers build a great relationship of trust with the project’s stakeholders. By doing so, they focus their attention on those stakeholders who have power and influence on the project. By lending their ears to the stakeholders’ concerns and acting upon their feedback, they get the necessary buy-in and commitment to the project.
They Control Risks and Changes to the Scope
Highly successful managers instill a risk awareness culture into the team by consistently addressing their concerns and providing a solution. They also monitor changes not because they oppose them but because they need to assess their impact on factors such as time, cost, quality, and benefits of a requirement change.
They Deliver on Their Promises
The Project managers successfully set a good example and gained enormous respect for being effective, timely, and reliable. The fastest way to lose credibility is to promise something you cannot keep.
Becoming a project manager is a big jump in anyone’s career, and the job role comes with immense responsibility. Relevant experience, up-to-date skills, domain-specific knowledge, and the willingness to learn to distinguish the best candidates for any project manager vacancy. Although it can be overwhelming at times, the role of a project manager undoubtedly offers a lot of exposure. In addition, with the success of a project, a project manager will gain renown in the organization, which will also add value to their career in the long run.
Know more about project management best practices through Invensis Learning’s essential Project Management certification training on PMP Certification Online Training Course, CAPM Certification Prep Course, PRINCE2, Project Management Fundamentals, P3O, and MSP. We are a trusted training partner for Fortune 500 companies and Government institutions globally.