PM team analysis: Checklist for great project managers

Great PMs bring order to chaos.

What’s the difference between a so-so project manager and a great project manager? Great PMs consistently juggle the needs of many stakeholders—external clients, internal team members… and you as their boss.

If you’re not detail-oriented as an agency owner, you need someone to fill-in for your weaknesses. And if you are detail-oriented, you probably still need a PM—because you shouldn’t be responsible for every client detail yourself.

I’ve identified seven major practices that make someone a great project managers. If you find a PM who can do all seven—and they’re a great fit for your culture—hang onto them!

#1. Great project managers create order from chaos. This includes creating new systems, and persuading their coworkers to follow them.

#2. Great project managers balance Warmth & Competence. Their job is to get things done (Competence), but they also need to make their stakeholders feel appreciated (Warmth).

#3. Great project managers take time to manage stakeholder expectations. No one likes negative surprises. Plus, it’s a great way to highlight strategically free services.

#4. Great project managers are constantly juggling the “Iron Triangle” of project management—scope, timeline, and budget. They help their stakeholders understand the trade-offs between Good, Fast, and Cheap. (More on this via Tech Republic)

#5. Great project managers use pre-kickoff surveys. In the survey, a PM asks questions like how each stakeholder defines success, how much time each week the stakeholder plans to commit to the project, and how things went when the stakeholder did similar projects before. This gives the PM an opportunity to reconcile any differences, before it’s too late.

#6. Great project managers always do debriefs after every project. They answer three questions: what worked, what didn’t work, and what to do differently next time. And then they learn from that the next time they do similar work.

#7. Great project managers practice self-care. Being a PM is stressful; great PMs have a system to de-stress and put things into perspective.

Question: What great-PM qualities would you add to the list?

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