Managing Projects for over 20 years has taught me a few things about what attributes a good project manager must possess. A good part of my role today is to find and place contract project managers. Great PMs have many traits and you can read tons of articles on what attributes comprise a good PM. After reading and reflecting on several of these article and then looking back over my years of project delivery and hiring PMs, I have compiled these 5 attributes I look for in a great contract project manager:
PM Technical Knowledge:
You must be able to demonstrate that you know a little about most PM methods of management, and a lot about a couple. The ability to articulate project management methodology and the classic structured approach to managing a project instill confidence. That is, a good contract project manager MUST be able to articulate and demonstrate that they understand the mechanics of a structured approach to managing a project. This is important to any client who is purchasing PM expertise to supplement their workforce. The understanding of the mechanics instills the confidence that you can pull them through this project and have many methods to choose from in your toolbox. A PM who cannot debate the pros and cons of Critical Path, Critical Chain, Waterfall, Agile/Scrum is not ready to be put in a contract PM position. Secondly, the PM must be highly skilled in the software tools required to manage a project (MSProject, SharePoint, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.)
Contract project managers are not for the faint of heart and to do this well you have to have confidence in yourself. You have to have the ability to be thrust in a situation and say I can do anything given enough time and information.
Demonstrating consistent personal integrity is your golden ticket. Clients need to trust that you will provide what they are paying for. Respect their time and money by giving 110% during your work day. As well, the ability to provide honest information and feedback in a constructive way demonstrates your intention of integrity.
As a contractor you are often looked upon as an outsider in the beginning. You require the ability to win the confidence of your team who might be initially threatened by your presence. Personality and humor work wonders and are a necessary tool of all contractors.
Having a passion for what you do and doing it well is another attribute that is key for contract PM’s. As a contractor a genuine concern for serving the client and the project and making them successful is key.
Of course, there are other attributes that make up a great contract project managers but these are the top five in my, not so humble, opinion.
Patty Cline is a Senior level Project Manager with 20+ years in project delivery. Patty is currently the BCforward PM Engagement Manager. Patty recruits and hires entry, middle and senior level PMs. Her experience in project delivery spans across many industries including, Healthcare, Education, Government, Insurance and Finance.
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