Four characteristics of great Project Managers

Project Management 4 min read

Four characteristics of a great Project Manager

Last updated: July 30th, 2018

Successful web design projects don’t just happen. It takes a group of talented and dedicated people to achieve greatness.

First, and foremost, you need an open-minded client with an interesting idea or a problem that needs solved. Next you will need talented Designers to execute the client’s ideas in a creative and useful way. Furthermore, you need Developers to bring that creative vision to life in whatever medium is best.

Even with all this potential, things can go sideways in a hurry. Between client motives, designer gripes, and developer misunderstandings—it’s a wonder anything gets done at all.

And that’s where a Project Manager comes in…

To put it simply, the eventual failure or success of a project hinges on their ability to sort through everyone’s chaotic itinerary. Without their uncommon prowess for juggling all the airborne balls, most web design projects would be dead on arrival.

Being a Project Manager is a lot like being a conductor. You’re the time keeper, the heartbeat, and the glue that allow individuals to perform as one. And the best Project Managers possess four characteristics that keep successful projects together.

1. Personality tamer

On any given project, there might be a dozen personality types swirling about. You’ve no doubt run across one (or all) of these before:

  • Overbearing clients who expect the world
  • Designers who don’t want constraints and expect creative autonomy
  • Developers who demand restrictions and need solitude
  • Onerous leadership with unrealistic expectations

Do these sound familiar? If you’ve dealt with any of these types of people on a project, you already know it can be a lot like herding cats.

The best Project Managers are able to wrangle everyone in and make them feel like they’re heard. When everyone feels supported, solutions to problems will flow with ease.

2. Jack of all trades, master of none

There was a push in the web design industry a few years back for everyone to become specialists, not generalists.

A great Project Manager speaks everyone’s language and serves as the translator that keeps everyone talking.

However, being a generalist is exactly what you need to be a great Project Manager. If you have a working knowledge of each of the disciplines involved, you have a better chance of keeping your project running according to plan.

Having a base knowledge of design helps you ask clients the right questions about tone, mood, and visual objectives. Using that understanding, you can relay said needs back to your design team which improves end deliverable to the client. And having a clear grasp of development and code cycles helps to convey progress or unexpected hurdles to the client.

A great Project Manager speaks everyone’s language and serves as the translator that keeps everyone talking.

3. Scheduling wizard

It’s a fact, clients are always on deadline. And having the ability to produce a solution is one thing. But being able to deliver that solution on time is another entirely.

When schedules change (as they often do), you have to know how to adapt. Scope spiraling out of control? Shorten the phase and hone in on deliverables. Ideas aren’t coming? Add extra weeks to the schedule to allow new concepts to sprout. Great Project Managers are able to maneuver through schedule bumps, hit deadlines, and keep things moving.

Oh, and let’s not forget that the team is probably working on more than one project at a time. Any Project Manager worth their salt needs to become a master at juggling multiple efforts, resources, and schedules at once.

4. Over communicator

Many clients and internal resources might find this characteristic annoying. But there’s no bigger momentum killer than when people don’t know what’s going on. Sure, it might be bothersome for a Project Manager to ask for progress reports and feedback all the time. But trust us—it’s way better than the alternative.

If a client has to ask for information, it’s already too late.

Remember: client perception is everything. If they have to ask what’s happening, they’re already starting to doubt whether you can or cannot deliver. It’s possible they’ve been burnt in the past and are going to be sensitive and on edge about deliverables. Offering frequent status updates gives them a sense of relief that everything is being handled.

Over communicating also prevents people from hiding. Left to their own devices, some of your more introverted team members and clients will retreat to their safety bubble. By providing updates, people are aware that they’re involved and others are relying on them. The fear of letting down the group or being the “one bad cog” will help them focus and get stuff done.

A great Project Manager is worth their weight in gold

If you have a great Project Manager (like we do), hold on to them tightly. Without them, chaos lurks at every corner just waiting to derail your project.

And if you’re one of those lucky people that haven’t experienced any of the turmoil or mayhem associated with web projects yet, be grateful. Chances are you’re already working with a great Project Manager.

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