Projects are the mechanism by which companies get just about everything done, whether implementing new services, developing and releasing new products, improving internal processes, or impacting customer experience. The people in charge of these projects are project managers, regardless of their official title. If you’re responsible for managing an initiative that has a start and end date, requires liaising with other departments, coordinating the team’s efforts, and delivering results, guess what–you’re running a project and you’re a project manager.
Whether it’s easy to admit or not, project management is a core discipline, and one that not everyone has mastered. So what does it take to be a good non-project manager project manager?
Managing alignment: Everything you do needs to be aligned to your organizational culture, strategy, structure, and internal politics.
Navigating across departments: You must be able to get past organizational silos to engage and inspire cross-functional, geographically-dispersed teams, and help individual project team members understand the context of their work in the bigger picture.
Understanding and maintaining a budget: Cost overruns and cash flow problems are project killers and reflect poorly on the manager in charge. Learning how to accurately estimate and control costs and anticipate shortfalls is essential to ensuring successful project outcomes.
Communicating with purpose. You have to be able to communicate effectively with lots of different people, some of whom may be peers, some of whom may be superiors, and some of whom may be subordinates, and tailor your message accordingly. Also, knowing how to get the information you need to make decisions is crucial to keep a project running smoothly.
Managing conflict: You must learn to not only empower individual voices to raise issues and speak up when challenges present, but also be able to diffuse personality conflicts (that will undoubtedly arise) and your team focused on the shared goal.
Mitigating risk: To effectively mitigate and manage risk, you must know what’s needed to accomplish your goals and you need to gather pertinent information and necessary resources in a timely manner.
Tackling a crucial initiative for your organization can mean the next big step in your career, but it often involves skills that are unfamiliar even to the most technically proficient professional. Walk yourself through each skill and determine whether or not you’ve mastered it. If you haven’t, start looking at options for training.
TwentyEighty Strategy Execution is a global leader in project-focused training, enabling people to close the strategy execution gap and drive higher performance by strengthening relational and technical skills. By combining the best of cutting-edge university research and proven business techniques, we deliver training designed to increase alignment and engagement across teams, business units, or the entire enterprise. Learn more today at strategyex.com. Join the conversation on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.