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Project Management: Manager Skills and Success

Project manager has several skill requirements. What are some of them? How do these skills, especially the conflict resolution skills, aid a project manager in successfully completing a project? What do you think the outcome of a project would be if the project manager was lacking in any of these skills? Why do you think so?

Project success is defined very differently today than it was twenty years ago. What are some of the driving factors behind this? What role executives have played in this new definition for project success? Which one of the items in today's definition would be the most difficult to achieve? Is this a fair definition of project success? Do project managers would have difficulty achieving this definition of success? Why or why not

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Please see response attached, which is also presented below (extra reading section the end of the response below ONLY). I hope this helps and take care.

RESPONSE:

Hi,

A complex set of numerous questions, indeed. Let's look briefly at each, and I will also provide links for further research.

1. Please help me with these questions project manager has several skill requirements. What are some of them? How do these skills, especially the conflict resolution skills, aid a project manager in successfully completing a project? What do you think the outcome of a project would be if the project manager were lacking in any of these skills? Why do you think so?

Management Skills

Management is a skill that can be learned. Some of the skills a good project manager needs (e.g., coaching, mentoring, communication skills, assert yourself, listen to others, and conflict resolution skills, inspire, transform and motivate, etc.). If these skills are lacking, it will impact the project negatively, as teamwork is essential for project success (demanding excellent communication and managing conflict across and between team players). In other words, it helps to manage resources, time, money and scope (see more below on each) (http://management.about.com/od/managementskills/).

It is important for a project manager to be a leader. The literature suggested that leaders exhibited these transformational characteristics:

· Sharing the vision
· Building a learning environment
· Being a positive role model
· Recognizing individual abilities/values
· Reinforcing self-confidence/independence
· Supporting their employees
· Driving out fear
· Encouraging participation/self-expression
· Fostering continuous improvement
· Fostering initiative and responsibility
· Encouraging persistence
· Emphasizing intrinsic outcomes
· Advocating shared leadership
(http://management.about.com/cs/generalmanagement/a/mgt_tips03.htm)

Using these skills above, the Project Manager must then manage the project:

A successful Project Manager must simultaneously manage the four basic elements of a project: resources, time, money, and most importantly, scope. All these elements are interrelated. Each must be managed effectively. All must be managed together if the project, and the project manager, is to be a success.

· Resources: People, equipment, material
· Time: Task durations, dependencies, critical path
· Money: Costs, contingencies, profit
· Scope: Project size, goals, requirements
(See full article online at http://management.about.com/cs/projectmanagement/a/PM101.htm or click on the following links, and notice how people skills are involved in each).

Part 1: Overview
Part 2: Manage Resources
Part 3: Manage Time
Part 4: Manage Money

2. Project success is defined very differently today than it was twenty years ago. What are some of the driving factors behind this? What role executives have played in this new definition for project success? Which one of the items in today's definition would be the most difficult to achieve? Is this a fair definition of project success? (Yes, I think so) Do project managers would have difficulty achieving this definition of success? Why or why not? (Some do, but mostly those managers who are stuck in their old ways, but people skills can be learned (training, etc.), such as inspiring, transforming, and motivating others, etc.).

After an extensive on-line search, unfortunately, I have not been able to locate one specific definition of project success, though, so you might have to refer to your lecture notes and text for this. However, there is a move toward project success being about the ability to manage people effectively and good leadership qualities. It is not difficult with the right kind of training, as people skills and leadership skills can be learned. However, some people have a somewhat difficult time shifting gears (e.g. from autocratic to transformative techniques). See several definitions of success at http://www.4pm.com/articles/projplan.html, that could perhaps be applied to project success.

Let's look at two example of how applying people skills leads to project success:

EXAMPLE 1:

I'm going to tell you a little story about steel magnate Charles Schwab ... and see if you can tell what made him a well-respected, highly effective, and very rich business leader who started as a day laborer and worked his way to the very top:

While passing through his steel mill one day, Charles came across some of his employees smoking. Directly over their heads was a sign that read "NO SMOKING."

Instead of pointing to the sign and saying "Can't you read? Are you blind?," he walked over to the men, handed each a cigar, and said,

"I'd appreciate it, boys, if you will smoke these on the outside." They knew they were caught. Still, they admired him for saying nothing directly about it, giving them a small gift, and most importantly, showing them respect.

Did he get his point across? Absolutely. But he didn't have to criticize, belittle, or patronize his employees to do so.
It's one of the most profound examples of assertive leadership in business...one that revealed a secret to Schwab's contemporary, Dale Carnegie, that now, years later, you will benefit from ? maybe even profit from ? once you put it to work for you. (Excerpted from http://www.nightingale.com/t_5Essential_People_Skills_Dale_Carnegie.asp?source=INTGOOGAD77&gclid=CPbGv83d0YICFTeVJAodvidKIQ).

EXAMPLE 2: Marine Project's

DEFINITION OF PROJECT SUCCESS

A higher degree of success is likely where:
· at issue is a tangible asset or community prize.
· consistent communications on issues of concern are achieved.
· appropriate forms of communication are used to deal with different aspects of the community (formal v informal / politicians v users).
· (when a community is deeply divided) leadership on developing management is from outside the community as such leadership is difficult to categorize or make synonymous with any political elements within the community.

In fact, a manager's most important, and most difficult, job is to manage people. You must lead, motivate, inspire, and encourage them. Sometimes you will have to hire, fire, discipline or evaluate employees. The articles below and links provide information of the best ways to handle these people management issues. You must learn to manage conflict effectively, communicate, coach and lead.

However, in addition to people managements (e.g., resource management), as mentioned above, the project manager must also manage Time: Task durations, dependencies, critical path and Money: Costs, contingencies, profit and Scope Project size, goals, requirements through the application of essential project management skills. However, people skills are also used in doing this.

Subtopics

Employee Motivation (12) Manage Yourself (6)

Motivating employees http://management.about.com/od/trainingsites/a/LunchandLearn.htm

Executives would be encouraging and modeling appropriate behavior to others through providing a vision and motivating employee to embrace the project visions and mission, for example.

· Sharing the vision
· Building a learning environment
· Being a positive role model
· Recognizing individual abilities/values
· Reinforcing self-confidence/independence
· Supporting their employees
· Driving out fear
· Encouraging participation/self-expression
· Fostering continuous improvement
· Fostering initiative and responsibility
· Encouraging persistence
· Emphasizing intrinsic outcomes
· Advocating shared leadership
(http://management.about.com/cs/generalmanagement/a/mgt_tips03.htm)

Some leadership tips (PLEASE SEE ATTACHED RESPONSE FOR LINKS)
#L1 Fix The Problem, Not The Blame.
#L2 Tell People What You Want, Not How To Do It.
#L3 Manage the function, not the paperwork.
#L4 Don't DO Anything.
#L5 You never have to make up for a good start.
#L6 Get out of your office.
#L7 Lead by example.
#L8 Delegate the easy stuff.
#L9 Don't get caught up in looking good.
#L10 Quality is just conformance to requirements.
#L11 Learn from the mistakes of others.
#L12 Set S.M.A.R.T.

EXAMPLE 3: Article: Applying Project management skills (notice as you read the following project, the number of times people skills are mentioned (e.g., communicate, etc.):

Key Principles Towards Effective Management of Coastal and Marine Resources

The new paradigm?: Is the new paradigm that there is no new paradigm as there appears to be no new models for the way we approach the management of the coastal and marine environment but there are emergent principles for our work and factors for success based on our experiences to date which are likely to make the application of these models more effective?
[NOTE: The above paragraph was put forward by some participants at the workshop, it was not debated and is included here for completeness. Since the workshop we have had strong representation from 23 of the 33 participants that they do not agree with the first part of the statement and that paradigm ...

Solution Summary

This solution identifies several project manager skill requirements and explains how these skills relate to success. It also explores the impact of not having these essential skills. The definition of project success is explored through historical changes and examples, and if project managers can meet the expectations set out by new definitions.

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