Seven Ways to Succeed as a Project Manager

Seven Ways to Succeed as a Project Manager

Seven Ways to Succeed as a Project Manager

Becoming a successful project manager requires a unique blend of skills, adaptability, and strategic thinking.

Whether you've been managing projects for years, recently gotten into the profession, or have simply been assigned, on the fly, to manage a project, it helps to be cognizant of these seven ways to increase your chances of success.

1. Learn to Use Project Management Tools Effectively

A wide variety of project management software tools exist today. You'll need at least rudimentary knowledge of available software tools, or possibly an intermediary to advance your understanding of them. The current crop of project management tools can be of such enormous aid that they can mean the difference between a project's success or failure.

2. Be Able to Effectively Give and Receive Criticism

Giving constructive criticism is not necessarily easy. A fine line exists between upsetting a team member's day and offering useful feedback that will help both the team member and the project. As the saying goes, "it's easy to avoid criticism: say nothing, do nothing, and be nothing." If you are going to move mountains, you will have to accept some slings and arrows. In short, the ability to receive criticism is crucial for project managers.

3. Be Receptive to New Procedures

You don't know everything, and thank goodness! Team members, other project managers, and those who initially authorize the project can provide valuable input, including new directions and innovative procedures. Be forthcoming with them, because you might find a way to slash $120,000 and three months off your project cost.

4. Manage Your Time Well

If you personally are not organized, dawdle on low-level issues, and find yourself falling behind on deadlines, how are you going to manage your project, direct your project team, and achieve the desired outcome on time and on budget?

5. Be Effective at Conducting Meetings

Meetings are a necessary evil during the run of completing projects, with the exception of solo projects. Periodic meetings are vital for keeping project staff informed and for updating superiors on the progress being made on the project. Take the time to read up on the fundamentals of meetings so that you can conduct them in a succinct, enjoyable manner. With a little effort, almost any project manager can become an effective meeting manager.

6. Hone Your Decision-Making Skills

As a project manager, you won't have the luxury of sitting on the fence for long in relation to issues crucial to the success of your project. Moreover, your staff looks to you for yes, no, left, and right decisions. Trusting yourself is a vital component in effective project management. If you waffle here and there, you are giving the signal that you are not truly in command. As with other aspects of project management, decision-making is a skill that can be learned. However, the chances are high that you already have the decision-making capability that you need. That's why you were chosen to manage this project to begin with, and why you've been able to achieve what you have in your career up to this point.

7. Maintain a Sense of Humor

Situations are going to go wrong, things will happen out of the blue, the weird and the wonderful surely will pass your way. You have to maintain a sense of humor so that you don't incur damage to your health, to your team, to your organization, and to the project itself.

Sometimes, the best response to forestalling a breakdown is to simply let out a good laugh. Take a walk, stretch, renew yourself, and then come back and figure out what you are going to tackle next. The late General Colin Powell, in his book My American Journey, remarked that in most circumstances, "Things will look better in the morning."

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Jeff Davidson

Work-Life Balance Expert

Jeff Davidson is "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" and the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit or call 919-932-1996 for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars.

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