Understand the Project Manager Role


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Project management is both a science and an art. The project manager is both scientist and artist.

The science side is learning how to define, coordinate, and document the work; digging for the true need, not a superficial solution someone wants to put into place; and you have to become comfortable with the tools of project planning.

The art side is developing your judgment and learning how to lead people; you have to pay attention to details but not get wrapped up in them; you have to condition yourself to seek acceptable solutions rather than perfect ones.

Our blog series – “Master Project Management” covers some of the essentials of the art and science of project management. It talks about defining true needs, building a solid team, and performing a financial analysis. It addresses how you can find the right balance points between extremes like “managing everything vs. managing nothing” and “doing work yourself vs. letting the team do everything.” This series will help develop the foundation you need to become a high performing project manager.

Understand the Project Manager Role

In some ways, leading a project is much like leading a department: You need to coordinate the efforts of people with diverse backgrounds and skills in hopes of getting the best overall result. But in other ways, leading a project is very different.

  1. The people you’re bringing together may not know each other.
  2. A project by definition is unique; it has never been done before. The end product and the process for producing it cannot be fully specified in advance; otherwise, you’ll be closed to new learning and opportunities.
  3. Unlike a department head, a project leader may have no direct authority or control over the members of the team.

To boost your ability to effectively lead a project:

Develop process management skills: Learn tools for coordinating the work of many people. Get comfortable dealing with managers on issues of expectations, cost, schedule, and resources.

Build your interpersonal skills: Project management is all about getting things done through other people. Work on written and oral communication skills. Learn how to negotiate and influence. Become a coach and mentor to your project members.

Build a support network: In all likelihood, your project will involve issues that are beyond your own area of expertise. You should educate yourself as much as possible about the work your organization does, but it also helps to make contacts with people from diverse areas of your company—finance, IT, marketing, technical experts.

“Avoid the trap of believing that because you’ve been put ‘in charge’ of a project, you’ve risen above your peers and that friendships no longer matter . . . The interpersonal and behavioral aspects of project life are crucial to success.”

WorkOtter helps you successfully execute your program process strategy for project success. Get a demo of WorkOtter and see how we can make your program management effective.

Next Step: Build a Solid Team

“Project Management: 24 Lessons to Help You Master Any Project” by Gary R. Heerkens is a copyrighted work of McGraw-Hill and McGraw-Hill reserves all rights in and to the Content. ©2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. Purchase the book on Amazon.