Project management is not for the faint of heart; it requires a strong PM (Project Manager) that is versatile and able to wear many hats at once.  Because the PM position is multi-faceted, it is difficult to find a single person who embodies all the attributes that make for an exceptional leader.  Consequently, when hiring, PMOs (Project Management Offices) often focus on the mechanical aspects of the position while neglecting to consider the PM characteristics that may be more indicative of a successful candidate.  If your PMO is guilty of this oversight, taking into consideration the following attributes may help you select an effective PM during your next round of hiring.

Effective Communication Skills

Being a good communicator is one, if not the most, important attributes of an effective project manager.  PMs interact with executives, teams, stakeholders and clients and must clearly articulate key information such as project goals, expectations, performance issues, responsibilities, progress and challenges.  A project manager bridges the gap between the team and clients and must be able to effectively communicate; otherwise, the project may be compromised or doomed for failure.  

Passion

Projects can be daunting or drag on relentlessly, negatively affecting morale.  A good PM must have the ability to motivate and boost team spirit to maximize performance, but it is nearly impossible for a PM to do this if they are not passionate about their work.  A good, enthusiastic attitude has a way of rubbing off on others. A project manager that stays optimistic and conveys passion will generate the same energy from team members, effectively giving them a morale boost. 

Tech Savviness

Project management software has become essential to planning and accomplishing project goals, necessitating the need for project managers to have a sound technological understanding of how these systems and tools operate.  Foundational knowledge of theory and technical applications will help PMs support their teams, troubleshoot issues, and implement strategic initiatives.

Conveys a Common Vision

Most people have heard the phrase “they can’t see the forest through the trees”.  This can sometimes be the case in projects where team members are too involved in the day-to-day details to envision the project as a whole.   An effective project manager can articulate a vision and empower others to buy into it. When a team works toward a common goal, they will be substantially more efficient and have greater successful outcomes.

Sharp Negotiation Skills

Most things in life are not black and white, making negotiating in the gray a common occurrence.  Conflicts regularly arise, and a project manager must be able to diplomatically negotiate to ensure that situations do not escalate, and that harmony is maintained.

Direction and Delegation

Leadership is about finding the right approach, and it is imperative that PMs find a balance between direction and delegation.  We have all had a micromanaging, too hands-on boss or coworker who seemingly got under everyone’s skin or who halted progress at every turn.  An excellent project manager knows how much, is too much and strikes the right balance between being hands-on, directing and delegating.  

Cool Under Pressure

Projects are full of unanticipated twists, turns, and setbacks that can become stressful when deadlines are looming.  A project manager must maintain his or her cool even in the direst circumstances to ensure that the team stays grounded, morale remains high, and that communication does not break down.

Problem Solver

No matter how much effort is put into planning a project, issues will always rise.  PMs must be able to confidently provide solutions to any problem that occurs and to put into place mechanisms to ensure that it does not happen again.  Good decision-making skills are a must have for any prospective management professional.

Empathetic

When someone invests in you, you invest in them.  Project management is not just about projects – it’s also about people.  Empathetic leaders put themselves in the shoes of others to gain an understanding of their needs.  They recognize the importance of caring for team members as well as being grateful for their contributions.  By empathizing with the team, personnel will feel understood and more personally invested in the project.