Key Characteristics of a Project Manager…An Insider’s View

March 23, 2021

Michele Peri, Sr Project Manager

Project management is key because it brings leadership and direction to projects and teams. As a project manager, I see project management as the center of a wheel, with all the spokes coming in and out of the wheel being all points of contact for a project.

A project manager keeps a pulse point on all aspects of a project while working closely across a business team (in the case of BLEND360, a client team), a project delivery team and any vendors, to help ensure project success. A project manager is the central contact who provides regular status updates, manages change requests and communicates any project issues and impacts.

The key characteristics of a project manager that help ensure satisfaction and success are:

  1. Leadership: To oversee and lead a project to successful completion while leading the team to achieve that goal is imperative to successful project management. It is an effort of coordination of and understanding the project, guiding the team, motivating the team and building a relationship with the client and keeping the project on track.
  2. Communication between and amongst the team can either make or break a project. The lines of communication need to be open, honest, factual and two-way. It helps to establish a team who relies on each other over the course of the project.
  3. Negotiation Skills: To be able to negotiate to resolve issues while maintaining a forward moving project and harmony amongst teams. For example, if the scope changes based on client requests due to further discovery but the timeline cannot shift, the project manager needs to negotiate a solution. This needs to be done with tact and firmness while addressing the client’s request. It may mean modifying current scope, deprioritizing an original task or planning to implement the newest scope change to a phase 1a release.
  4. Integrity: Being honest and true to one’s thoughts and actions helps to facilitate teamwork; when a project manager “walks the talk,” it aids in building trust with the team. A project manager who operates with integrity can build credibility with the client as the team works on projects together.
  5. Risk management: Each project comes with unforeseen delays and/or risks. Effective project managers are able to identify, assess, and manage risk. A process needs to be established and followed to handle the unforeseen issues that arise over the course of a project, which helps to increase the project rate of success while simultaneously managing expectations.
  6. Prioritization of project workstreams and its value is important, as it allows the project team to have visibility into what needs to be completed and why, which ensures project success and client satisfaction. It provides the team with a clear step-by-step plan, while setting expectations for all teams – clear definition of scope and then plan for implementation.
  7. Ability to manage expectations is imperative as it minimizes disappointment and missing deadlines or commitments. Establishing what can be implemented or delivered during a project lifecycle and communicating the course of action enables project success. It sets the tone for the flow of the project.

Although I have called out seven key characteristics, it’s noteworthy to mention five secondary characteristics: ability to delegation, focus on detail oriented, flexible and adaptable and having a sense of humor. These traits complement the primary and add value to project management.

Each of these characteristics on their own do not define a project manager but fusing them together and crisscrossing them summarizes the key traits of a successful project manager who is enthusiastic and passionate about delivering projects on time and within budget.

Personally, I love project management because it has not only allowed me to see a use case morph from an issue, to a concept, to a proposal, to a plan development, to implementation and ultimately go live, but it has allowed me the opportunity to be a part of a group of people from various organizations who come together and work as a team to succeed. Additionally, I have enjoyed mentoring others in project management, as well as improving my skillset and carrying these skills into my everyday life.