Well Handled Project Termination

• Project knowledge

Note: Numbers in parentheses represent the percentage of project managers whose response was included in this cluster.

Note: Numbers in parentheses represent the percentage of project managers whose response was included in this cluster.

"keeps the project goals in perspective," was also identified as significant.

While successful project managers were viewed as good problem solvers, what really differentiated them from their so-so counterparts was their problem finding ability. Because of their exceptional communication skills, goal clarity and planning, effective project managers were aware of issues before they became problems. Problem finding gave them greater degrees of freedom, enabling them to avoid being seriously sidetracked by problems caused by unforeseen events.

The important team building skills involved developing empathetic relationships with other members of the project team. Being sensitive to the needs of others, motivating people, and building a strong sense of team spirit were identified as essential for effectively managing a project. "The best project managers use a lot of 'we' statements in describing the project," wrote one computer programmer. Being clear about the project's objectives and subsequently breaking down the project into its component parts (e.g., schedules) helped project participants to understand their interdependencies and the need for teamwork.

Several different attributes and behaviors were catalogued under leadership skills. These included setting a good example, seeing the big picture, being enthusiastic, having a positive outlook, taking initiative, and trusting people. Having a vision is closely related to goal clarity (which was included as an organizational skill). The leadership component of this competency was best expressed by one financial analyst as "the ability to see the forest through the trees."

Since, as is often lamented, the only constant in managing a project is change, successful project managers require coping or stress-management skills. Respondents indicated that both flexibility and creativity were involved in effectively dealing (or coping) with change, as were patience and persistence. What project managers experience are generally high levels of stress. How well they handle stress ("grace under pressure") significantly affects their eventual success or failure.

The final cluster of skills was labeled technological. Successful project managers were seen as having relevant experience or knowledge about the technology required by the project. Seldom, however, were effective project managers seen as technological "experts." Indeed, expertise was often felt to be detrimental because it decreased flexibility and the willing ness to consider alternative perspectives. Project managers do need to be sufficiently well versed in the technology to be able to ask the right questions because, as one senior military officer pointed out, "you've got to be able to know when people are blowing smoke at you."

Skills and Problems: Fundamentally Interconnected

It has been argued in the literature that project managers require certain skills in order to be effective. It has also been argued that project managers need to be able to handle certain problems in order to be effective. The results of this study suggest that these two perspectives are not contradictory but are fundamentally compatible. When the set of required skills is considered side-by-side with the set of critical problems project managers face, the complementary nature of these two perspectives is evident. This is illustrated in Table 3.

Without arguing which comes first, it is clear that either (a) project managers require certain skills in order to deal effectively with the factors most likely to create problems for them in managing the project, or (b) because certain problems are most likely to confront project managers, they require particular skills in order to handle them.

While this one-on-one matching in Table 3 obviously oversimplifies the dynamic nature of project management, it does have an inherent logical appeal. Since communication breakdowns are likely to create project management problems, effective project managers need to cultivate their communications (persuading and listening) skills. Project managers with good organizational skills are likely to be more effective at planning and subsequently allocating resources. Unless project managers are able to build strong project teams they are likely to be plagued by Problems caused by poorly committed team members and interdepartmental conflict. Project goals are likely to be more easily understood when the project manager's leadership is consistent. Interpersonal conflicts wi'l likely diminish when project managers set clear standards of performance and demonstrate their trust lr>, and respect for, others. The inevitable changes which accompany any project will be less problematic when not only coped with calmly, but also when handled with flexibility and creativity. Finally, problems

Tibie 3 Skllls<->Problems: Interconnected in Project Management


Breakdowns in communications


Insufficient planning

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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