Project management can be easy and it can be hard. Depending on the project, its targets, and the environment, a certain project can be made harder or easier in many ways. I cannot claim that I am or always have been a successful project manager, but I have noticed a few traits that repeat with each great project manager I have met.

Understand what the project is about

Projects can be anything. Whether it’s a building, interior design, phone application, or a school project, every project is different. It all starts with having a complete understanding of what you and/or your team are about to do and what’s the target. The targets can be different even though the theme of the project itself might be similar to what you have done before.

That’s why your previous experience can be both good or bad. You might fall into the classic thought of “I know this and I’ve done this before” with not taking enough time to familiarize yourself with a project. Sometimes it’s good to bring a fresh set of eyes and this is were cross-field expertise is a great added value.

Having no experience might then make you overwhelmed and uncertain. That’s ok too. You should go through the start of the project a few times, make sure you understand everything and you are good to go. It’s always good to have someone a little more experienced in the team as you if possible.

Make sure you know your tools

A lot of project managers have their own systems and tools in place. Some project managers can jump around and pick and choose. Understand which kind of a project manager are you. Do you feel more confident in using your methods or are you open to new ones?

Once you have answered this questions, the team should put in place the tools that you use. Don’t worry, if you notice on the way, that something doesn’t work, it’s all right to change it. But everyone needs to be on the same side and understand the tools that you use. Tracking and measuring are a crucial part of any projects.

If the team you are working with, or even yourself, don’t have the proper project management tools in place, you might risk losing a lot of time on efforts that don’t pay off. There’s a million different online tools, apps, and websites you can use, or stick with the old-fashioned notebook and excel, as long as you stick to one or two tools only.

Listen and react

Although project managers are usually leaders in a project and are expected to have an opinion about most of the topics, one of the most important traits is to know how to listen. The more you listen, the better you start understanding the people you work with in a project. You learn more and gather more information every time you listen.

Give the opportunity to talk to everyone and make sure you are listening to them. First of all, it’s rude not to listen but it won’t help you either. When you start listening to your project team members, you start feeling more confident about what you are going to say.

People appreciate honesty, loyalty, and friendships, so try to keep the project team happy. By listening, you start noticing if something is off or needs to be changed. If you listen, but don’t do anything, it creates frustration and not only in the team, but yourself as well.

Wishing you all great and successful projects!

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