Essential Project Manager skills according to our Sr. Project Manager
Being a Project Manager is not an easy task.
As we go about our day in the office, we notice our Project Managers being involved in every minute part of the company. From development to designing to marketing, a Project Manager’s team is a diverse and interesting group to follow around.
But today we shadowed our Sr Project Manager Hagar Khairy to see just what it takes to pull off her job. We learned a lot but we mostly learned the crucial Project Manager skills to have.
“The true talent of the Project Manager lies surprisingly, not in their knowledge, but in their nature.” -Hagar Khairy, Sr Project Manager, Code95
Critical Thinking is #1
As she follows up on her projects in progress, Hagar provides the answers. According to her, a great Project Manager is one that offers multiple solutions to any problem that arises. The Project Manager skills may vary, but this one remains the most crucial.
“Hagar, how does one develop their critical thinking skill?”
“Putting yourself in the shoes of every party involved in the project: the client, stakeholder, sales, website or mobile app user or even the developer setting up the project is great practise for coming up with the appropriate solutions at the right time.
The Project Manager must have the knowledge it takes to take up those roles, assume their personalities then find a solution that fits everyone.”
Coming up with a solution for each problem is simply not enough to guide a smooth project to completion. Coming up with a solution that works for everyone is tough, but it is the key to a truly successful Project Manager.
Listening with passion!
Most people think leadership is about taking command of any situation and giving out orders. But Hagar believes a true leader is one that listens.
“When you listen to a client describing their project, it brings you closer to their vision. When you fully understand the client’s needs, you execute them in the way they pictured it. It is a matter of feeling the client’s passion and translating it to a reality. It gives you the confidence to deliver their project knowing that you are on the same page.”
“What constitutes a good listener in your opinion?”
“Asking questions is always the simplest way to collect the information you need. That also plays into finding solutions for any issue. Collecting information, analyzing that information then making a decision is how you find the right solution.”
Hagar’s passion inspired us to view Project Management more than just graphs and tables. Sure, being analytical is an excellent and important Project Manager skill, but passion and understanding stands out a little more. It makes us believe that Project Management, most of all, is a process of caring and empathizing with the client as well as their project.
Leading smoothly through listening is a pivotal skill of the Project Manager skills.
Communicating properly every time.
The Project Manager deals with different stakeholders on the client’s team and on their own. Needless to say, each party has their own language of communication with their own way of doing things. So one of the essential Project Management skills is definitely learning to communicate well.
Communicating, whether verbally or physically, with all these diverse personalities requires a bit of knowledge, a bit of understanding and a lot of patience.
“Patience, patience and patience.” -Nuha Heneidy, Project Manager, Code95
Because the Project Manager is responsible for the entire project, there’s a lot at stake and that makes each word they utter count.
“What about communication?”
“Obviously, every word is accounted for. The Project Manager needs to speak informatively not haphazardly. They should know when to speak and when to stop too.
Communication also involves presentation. A good Project Manager needs to learn how to present their point of view or their work in a way that suits the client. The documentation and reporting delivered to the client is a substantial part of the relationship. That’s why it really needs to impress them and get the point across most of all.”
Keeping an open mind!
Before Hagar was a Project Manager, she was a Code95 Administrator. This allowed her a lot of insight into the company’s departments’ ins and outs. Hagar’s knowledge stems from her time spent observing developers, designers, testers and business analysts.
As a content writer, I always look to Hagar for answers. Putting myself in the client’s shoes, I would also seek her advice as if she were part of my team. Because she follows the motto, “we are not selling, we are helping to buy”.
“I try to incorporate my technical and business knowledge into the solutions I present to the clients I meet. So, I start to view their project from a business development angle. I basically brainstorm with the clients all the ways they can expand and grow their business. Then comes the technical angle, where we break down what is needed and how to best execute it.
The idea is for the client to walk in the door and find a team that has their back. We like to think with the client and inspire new ways of thinking.”
There are so many options out there for a client looking to expand their business online. Hagar helps the client select the path best suited for them and discover fresh perspectives. That is another one of the most important Project Manager skills; thinking outside the box and getting creative with their ideas.
Detailing every step along the way.
Quality, timeline and cost.
As long as a plan is set, these triangle sides are to be kept in check for the duration of the project. The skilled Project Manager takes care of any issues influencing any of these project elements.
Any upset in any of these lines impacts the entire project and jeopardizes the rest of the progress. That’s why maintaining the quality, thoroughly planning the timeline while keeping the triangle in check is key.
“The Project Manager needs to be organized. Planning every detail is crucial. That means accurate predictions, utilizing resources and regular follow ups.”
To sum up…
“Hagar, what advice would you give to future Project Managers?”
“Practice. Practice. Practice. Nothing helps grow the Project Manager from amateur to expert than live practice. Dealing with clients on a daily basis, handling developers, creating solutions on the fly. These are all situations a Project Manager needs to go through a lot to learn.”
Hagar has spent almost 6 years being an indispensable Code95 Project Manager. As we spend more and more time observing her, we learn more and more each time. Today, we learned about the essential Project Management skills needed for filling that Sr Project Manager seat.
What do you think are the most crucial Project Manager skills?