Hiring Great Project Managers: 7 Qualities of Agency PMs

Hiring Great Project Managers: 7 Qualities for Agency PMs to Have
Written by: Karl Sakas

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! [Last updated: February 2023]

7 things to look for in great project managers

#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?

Book Cover: "Work Less, Earn More" by Karl Sakas

Frustrated with project management?

Struggling to ensure projects are completed on time and under budget?

It’s time to reduce the overwhelm—for you and the rest of the team.

In my Agency PM 101 training, I’ll walk you step-by-step through everything you need to know to successfully tame the chaos of agency life. Start running projects more smoothly, delivering them more profitably, and finishing on time.