The year was 1988; the up and coming actor was Tom Cruise. His occupation, bartender. The setting, “Cocktails & Dreams” New York’s hottest club scene.
Wait, don’t stop reading! I admit, I may have chosen the wrong overly jubilant couch-jumping actor to write about this week, but I do have a point. Tom Cruise was a master at juggling multiple items and requests, keeping orders and needs moving, all while being highly nimble and agile to catch the impending spilled drink or broken glass.
Call it what you will but flair bartenders and jugglers are very much like well-oiled and efficient project managers. They have a set of items that need to be juggled in a certain manner or pattern with a consistent pace and power behind them. If one of these elements fails, it could have detrimental results. Broken bottles, stray flames, flailing razor sharp knives or a project that is out of scope, over budget or worse… behind schedule.
So the question arises. What does it take to be a professional juggler and efficient project manager? I have outlined my “Top Shelf” selection of high quality elements one should posses as an efficient project manager below.
Cue the drum roll please….
10. Vision- Every good project manager needs to have a clear vision of what he/she wants the project to be and what the end result should produce. Documenting this vision not only enables the project manager to have a clear goal in mind, but sets the standard for every member of the project delivery team.
9. Superior Communication Skills- As history has proven time and time again, all good leaders are for the most part good communicators. As a project leader, a project manager needs to be able to communicate direction, priority, and necessity in a manner that is engaging, easily understood, and efficient.
8. Being Honest- First and foremost, a project manager needs to be upfront and honest with the rest of their project management peers including executive level team members. This honesty needs to come in the form of daily reports, a willingness to work after hours and an always-on attitude that is feeding the latest information to the members of the project team. This will ensure that everyone involved can be as proactive or reactive as possible.
7. Being Flexible- No, I am not talking about being the most limber person in the group. I am taking about possessing the ability to hear all sides of a story or problem, taking on a task that is unassigned or working several problems at once with the end goal always in mind.
6. Diverse Skill Set- A project manager needs to know a little about a lot and a lot about a little. We have all heard this before. The best project manager you can have is one who you would choose as your “Life Line” on the hit show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.”
5. Passionate- No I am not talking about a sappy love story here, rather about a quality one needs to posses as the leader of a team. We all tend to lose steam as we move through a project lifecycle, so it is important to have someone that possesses a passion for whatever your team is producing. From a drink at the bar to a new global website…without passion there truly is no punch!
4. Air Traffic Controller- Although highly intriguing, a project manager does not have to work for the FAA directing commercial air traffic. But they do need to posses some of the same qualities. Being able to step back and view the complete picture from time to time is a great skill. Having the ability to see the elements of the project on each other’s “radars” is a great way to delegate tasks and create milestones with the ultimate goal in plain sight.
3. Tech Savvy- In this day in age a project manager should be fairly tech savvy. I would be content with saying pocket protectors are still optional. But you get my point. Welcoming technology into the project management process is a must for a smooth and organized project.
2. People Person- Just like the flair bartenders and jugglers of the world, a project manager must have the ability to engage with his/her team and the client. Without being able to speak professionally or casually, a project manager may find it very hard to talk about scope drift or budget overage when the time arises.
1. Problem Solver- An efficient project manager should be capable of solving any and all problems, either with the help of their colleagues, outside resources or pure and natural reasoning.
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