Some project managers just seem to have what it takes to be successful at what they do, effectively and efficiently delivering projects over and over again. Yet other project managers seem to struggle to achieve the same success. Of course, the type of project you are involved in has an impact as does the particular business area or industry. An industry which is constantly at the cutting edge of technology may reasonably expect to have less project success stories than an industry that tends to embark on predictable projects of a type they have completed many times before. So we know the type of industry makes a contribution to the likelihood of success or failure but the skill, experience, behaviours and training of the project manager also have an effect. But is it possible to train anyone to become a successful project manager or are certain necessary attributes simply innate and cannot be taught?
What skills are required for a project manager to be truly effect in the role? What behaviours and attitudes do the most successful PMs have that set them apart from those who are less successful? It is, of course, a mixture of training, their experience, and their natural skills but in what proportions? Can good training make up for a lack of experience and natural skills – can training, in fact, effect a change in natural behaviours and attitudes?
With a range of professional training courses and accreditation available from the APM Project Fundamentals Qualification for novice project managers through to the highest level of PM accreditation the APM Registered Project Professional (APM RPP) there is no shortage of training available that seeks to do more than just teach project management techniques and tools. These training course also seek to change behaviours and attitudes and teach new “soft skills” such as people management and communication skills and are delivered in an engaging, practical way using a range of training materials such as podcasts and animated videos such as the one below.
Some of these soft skills come naturally to certain people who instinctively understand how to motivate a project team and how to develop a good working relationship by communicating openly and on a personal level. It may not be possible to completely change someone’s innate personality but the right training and role models in the workplace can help develop traits in a PM to make them much more effective at managing projects and the people involved on the projects.
The most successful project managers are good at:
- planning and managing a project
- monitoring and controlling risk and change
- staying focused on the project goals
- understanding the detailed tasks required
They are also natural optimists with great communication skills who are able to motivate a team to ensure the project is delivered at the right cost, within deadline and that it actually delivers on the anticipated business benefits.
In summary, a project manager requires time to develop experience, along with technical competence in PM techniques and tools; and soft project management skills such as confidence, optimism, motivational abilities and effective communication. Some project managers may start their career already with these soft skills but good project management training will help those less fortunate to learn how to develop these soft skills.