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Creating Successful Project Managers in Project Management

By Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt
Faculty Member, Transportation and Logistics, American Public University

Project managers (PMs) are considered the real leaders for a project. They manage not only the resources but also the people who comprise the team. Most companies try to spread resources around, and PMs are no different.

ICPM’s Tom Mochal says, “Project management typically accounts for 15% of a project’s effort hours. In other words, if a project is estimated to take 1,000 hours of effort, you should add 150 hours for project management. Some companies allocate 10% of hours to project management, while others allocate up to 20%, but 15% is a reasonable rule of thumb.”

Start a transportation and logistics management degree at American Public University.

What Makes a Project Manager Successful?

Successful PMs use the 15% of their time to build trust and focus on managing people, instead of resources. The key to building trust is asking questions and realizing that no one has 100% of the answers. Sustained trust comes from helping, serving and mentoring others. Project managers do more than lead, they create meaningful purpose and turn it into a powerful source for creative projects.

There is data to support this notion that project managers should focus on people to create productive teams. Profitable project teams successfully complete over 89% of their projects and while half of PMs are certified, 33% of projects fail because of lack of senior management. So it is profitable to investigate the power and ability of the PM to lead successful teams.

My Top 10 Tips for Project Managers

Celebrity therapist and author Maria Peers highlights what a great boss looks like through the eyes of a team member. I’ve added my thoughts on how this can pertain specifically to successful PM endeavors:

  1. Being different is an asset. No two teams will be the same, so the PM should approach each project with an open mind and open expectations.
  2. Rejection is a part of the journey. When it comes to project management, there will be failures, so get ready. Rejection makes you stronger by propelling you forward. Don’t think of rejection as no, but as a redirection toward what you are meant to do.
  3. Constructive criticism is helpful. Criticism is good when constructive; destructive criticism only moves you backward. The key is to know the difference.
  4. We live in a humble society, so it’s hard to tell people to praise themselves. Are you kind, nice, helpful or successful? Those qualities are positive attributes that every PM team needs can relate to. You are responsible for your thoughts and actions.
  5. Confidence breeds confidence. Teams are attracted to people that can make positive contributions to the group. Respect is a team requirement which is received only after you give it.
  6. Emotion wins over logic. PM teams usually focus on the tangible product, so this epiphany can help teams reach consensus by using emotion not logic.
  7. What gets monitored is what gets done. In some ways, instantaneous judgment is a fight or flight reflex. But beyond that, know the importance of being worthy of attention. Performance anxiety grows at the other end of the spectrum and prevents people from interacting for fear of judgment.
  8. Do what you hate first. There are all types of conversations, work products and activities that are not pleasant. Taking time to get them out of the way is important. Over time, it becomes natural to handle the unnatural or unpleasant first.
  9. Know that you are enough. All team members have flaws, and if you concentrate on the flaws you’ll never get anything done.
  10. Feelings are real and should not be swept under the rug, or they will continue to manifest themselves, many times in unfavorable ways. Experience the feeling until it no longer needs to be felt. Most people sidestep this emotion or try to substitute it, which leads to the addiction of it.

This world is full of both challenges/roadblocks and opportunities/superhighways. Project managers who tap into the team’s potential can sidestep the roadblocks and place a team on the superhighway to success. Influence is a two-way street, and successful PMs allow team members to influence business ideas or actions.

About the Author

Dr. Kandis Y. Boyd Wyatt, PMP, is a professor at American Public University and has over 25 years of experience managing projects that specialize in supply chain management. She holds a B.S. in meteorology and an M.S. in meteorology and water resources from Iowa State University, as well as a D.P.A. in public administration from Nova Southeastern University.

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