Beyond a doubt, one of the keys to success for any project is having an efficient project manager, who knows how to lead a team across the finish line. Not only do they execute projects within scope, they also hold themselves accountable and view themselves as strategic business partners fully vested in organizational success.
Sounds like music to your ears, right? Of course in an age where companies face critical skills gaps and competition is fierce for leaders with both technical skills to get the job done and soft skills to manage a team of individual personalities, it’s easier to dream about a great project manager than to find one. Additionally, as more workers choose to navigate off on their own to work independently, identifying the right list of characteristics and understanding how to navigate on-demand knowledge technologies will be key for any VP looking to find a rockstar project manager for their business.
What to Look For
Project management is a specific type of leadership position and being a standout project manager requires a unique set of skills. In an ideal world, your project manager would have some combination of the following key qualities.
To optimize the execution of a project with several moving parts, it’s crucial to delegate tasks to the right people. A rockstar project manager is an amazing judge of team members’ skills, strengths, and weaknesses. He/she reads people well and almost instinctively knows which tasks to delegate to whom and knows who is hungry to learn something new and who is more comfortable working to improve a process that has been implemented many times before.
Managing a team, especially when the team is new to you, requires excellent communication skills. The success of a team may well hinge on the project manager’s ability to navigate different personalities and quickly form strong relationships with stakeholders across the organization. Forming these relationships depends on clearly communicating goals, expectations, criticism and feedback. Additionally, pioneering project managers know when and how to communicate the team’s accomplishments to the higher-ups. They give credit where credit is due and as a result, elevate the entire team.
No project goes perfectly smooth from start to finish and many projects plow new ground. It’s important to find an enterprising project manager who can solve problems and who even enjoys the challenges that problems present. Keep in mind, though, that you will be disappointed if you expect your project manager to have all the answers. The true sign of a problem-solving savant is knowing how to create a network of experts to brainstorm issues and use their mastery to handle things effectively.
Make no mistake: If your project manager has to spend the majority of his/her time putting out fires and refereeing disputes among colleagues, he/she’s going to have a tough time getting your project completed on time. Do what you can to make their job easier. Set them up for success by allowing them the authority to harness the energy and power of their team. Often the same qualities that lead to conflict within a team are the same qualities that make magic happen.
5. Team Player
Finally, a top-tier project manager will be a superstar at showing up, and that doesn’t mean just being on time and appearing where he/she says they’re going to appear. It also means — and crucially — being present and focusing on what matters. Great project managers are team players. They recognize that team members take their cues from them about how to behave with colleagues, investors, c-suite leadership, etc. They set the stage for every member of the team to be successful and they share in their team members’ successes. Simply speaking, top-notch project managers own their team’s successes, along with their failures. They see themselves as part of the team, not above it.
How to Find One
It may not be easy to recognize an individual with the above characteristics without spending significant time working with him/her. But there are some steps VPs can take to increase their odds of finding that diamond in the rough:
- Sign up for an on-demand knowledge talent platform
- Post a project for users to bid on
- Create a detailed project description.
- Screen candidates and interview your top 3–5.
- Select the best candidate
- Rate and review your experience and conduct another project with the same expert or choose another one.
If you are looking for a project manager to execute on a series of project-based work, for which it doesn’t make sense to go through a drawn out hiring process, tapping into the incredible on-demand resources available can get you where you want to be. Some of the best project managers out there are available on demand.
Explore your options on Catalant’s on-demand workforce management system. All you need to get started is a good description of your project, a timeline and a computer.