The role of the Project Manager

One thing that I’m often asked for is a checklist of all of the activities that a Project Manager needs to perform in a Project. I often reply with a link to the PMBOK and tell them that they can start there and build from it! But in reality, it’s a lot different. The traditional role of the Project Manager would be to organise, control and manage a Project from it’s initiation to it’s completion and successful delivery into the organisation.

I wanted to take a more abstract look at the role of the Project Manager in this blog and focus on two skills that we see in today’s organisations and world. As someone who strongly invests in her team and people, it’s really important for me that one of the key roles and tasks of the Project Manager is to manage and develop their team. I will always try to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to learn something new, try something different or just attempt to work in a different way.

A useful task when you are onboarding your teams is to ask them what they want to achieve and simply: “How can I make you a success?” This can really give insight into any potential development areas that they are looking to work on or where you might be able to develop them during the project. I’ve found these talent discussions really useful in seeing where there could be potential back ups for key resources, how we can mitigate specific resource risks or if there are any knowledge gaps in the team as a whole.

Another key role that I think is drastically underestimated is the role of Expectation Management. I’ve been working for over a decade in projects and it’s still one of the most common fail points for Project Managers. Expectation Management begins on Day 1 of the project and it’s involving every stakeholder, every team member, every person that you’ll be working with. I set out my own expectation management with my team in the following way:

  • Ground rules:
    • Create a list of ground rules of how you want to work in the project and what’s important for you as a team. This could include core working hours, how you’ll handle disagreements or a motto (E.g. Fail fast, learn quicker)
  • Cover your bases:
    • This includes the following areas: Risk Management, Stakeholder Management and ensuring that everyone is clear on what the project is, what you’ll be delivering and any key specifics that are important to know. This could include anything sensitive / useful to know.
  • Reporting:
    • If you are needing to report data/ specs on a regular basis, it can be really useful to set up agreements with the people that are providing your data on what you’ll be needing and when. This could be as simple as: Timesheets need to be submitted and approved by Friday 5pm or all project information needs to be logged back into the central repository before you leave for the day.

When you are creating your list of things that you want to achieve in a project, where do you put Team Development? or do you include other activities that I’ve not listed here? Share your knowledge below or via Twitter to continue the conversation further.

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