Thursday, April 24, 2014

What are the traits of the best project managers?

By Dave Burstein, P.E.

We asked this question a few years ago at a seminar attended by 40 project managers from public works agencies.  These are the top 10 responses, listed with the most common responses first:

  1. Follows through
    • On their commitments
    • On others’ commitments
  1. Good listener
  2. Proactive
  3. Nails every aspect of job
  4. Leads by example
  5. Good communicator
  6. Backs decisions of team members
  7. Organized
  8. Handles multiple priorities well
  9. Technically proficient

Last month, at a joint webinar presented by PSMJ and Deltek, we asked the same question of 600 people from architectural and engineering firms throughout North America.  Here are the top 10 responses, listed in order:

  1. Good communicator
  2. Organized
  3. Leadership
  4. Client focused
  5. Plan and budget well
  6. Strong financial performance
  7. People skills
  8. Deals with issues proactively
  9. Multi-task
  10. Well-rounded admin and technical proficiency

The two lists are remarkably similar.  Interestingly, technical proficiency was in 10th place on both lists.  Yet when firms promote technical people to become project managers, technical proficiency is often their number one consideration.  If you are a project manager, how do you stack up in these other important traits?  If you manage project managers, are you giving these traits adequate consideration when you decide to make someone a PM?

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