No one project manager is the right fit for all of your company's projects. Finding ways to determine who best qualifies to oversee each project is difficult— but not impossible. Here are five signs to make your decision easier.
1. They bring direct knowledge and experience
Although not always true, often a project requires directly related experience. When a project manager possesses applicable skills, it increases the likelihood that the project will progress smoothly and goals will be met. Chances are the person is more likely to tackle a project if they possess the skills and knowledge that are specific to the challenges that a project presents. Keep in mind though that direct experience and knowledge should not be the only indication that you selected the right project manager: Consider other factors.
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2. They have confidence in their ability to deliver
Confidence is an under recognized trait of potential. Not to be mistaken for overconfidence or arrogance, confidence is a byproduct of a project manager's combined experience, knowledge, outlook, and interest in a project and its goals. It also indicates that they feel sufficiently prepared to tackle a project. It is important to recognize that a project manager's confidence may wax and wane throughout the lifecycle of the project as obstacles are thrown in the way.
During times of uncertainty, project managers must remember to gather all of the facts and recognize when to seek help to avoid making unnecessary mistakes. People are more apt to believe in your abilities to lead a project if you maintain a level head and focus on the goals of the project and the tasks required to reach those goals.
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3. Other stakeholders have confidence in their project management and leadership abilities
How other stakeholders gauge a project manager's performance on previous or similar projects is essential. If the individual works within your organization, get feedback on their performance from project sponsors and other stakeholders. Look for information about the following:
- Their leadership style
- Their ability to execute and deliver project goals
- How well they handle stress and conflict
- How they manage change and risks
- How personable they are
- If they would recommend the individual for your project
If you hire someone you have never worked with before, ask for references from sponsors or other stakeholders from various roles that can provide insight into the previous questions.
Also assess how others in your organization may receive the new project manager by factoring in what you know about the culture within your organization and the likelihood of team members accepting an external or new project manager.
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4. They are genuinely interested and excited about the project
When a person lacks interest in a project, odds are they may fail to give the related tasks the necessary time, focus, and attention to detail that is required. Interest and excitement in a project are positive indicators that a project manager is genuinely focused on the successful outcome of that project.
Compensation can be a great motivator, however, if an individual lacks a true interest in the project they are more likely to go through the process rather than maintaining a connection between their role and the final deliverables.
Gauge a project manager's interest in the project through non-verbal cues and direct questions like these:
- What types of projects do you enjoy most and why?
- Does this project interest you?
- What interests you about this particular project?
- What do you see as the potential benefit(s) behind this project?
5. They are the consummate professional
Don't assume that all project managers possess the same level of professionalism. Yes, all project managers are held to the same PMI global standards in terms of foundational knowledge and practice, however, not all project managers are the consummate professional.
Similar to the solicited feedback about stakeholder confidence, seek feedback from previous project stakeholders about a project manager's ability to remain professional in difficult situations. This will have significant impact as obstacles arise throughout the lifecycle of the project.
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Moira Alexander is the Founder of PMWorld 360 Magazine and Lead-Her-Ship Group, and a project management and digital workplace columnist for various publications. Moira has 20+ years in business (IS&T) and project management for small to large businesses in the US and Canada. To find out more about Moira, go to www.pmworld360.com and www.leadhershipgroup.com.