What are you good at? At what do you excel? What areas are project team members frequently complementing you on? Do you get positive customer feedback in a particular area on a regular basis?
For me it’s communication. I once had a business analyst tell me that of all the project managers he’s ever worked with, he received by far the most email from me. He said he felt that he was included on all communications and always knew the latest status and where things stood on my projects. That made me feel good because I consider communication to be the #1 responsibility of the project manager. If you’re doing that right, then that’s half the battle.
Capitalize and accommodate
Everyone has his or her own strengths and weaknesses. No one is strong in everything. Think about those job interviews – you’re asked about your strengths and weaknesses. You know you have some weaknesses – you may even have a huge glaring weakness that you certainly can’t tell them about, but you have to tell them something during the interview because even they know that no one is perfect. But seriously, in order to be successful we absolutely must know our strengths and weaknesses – both in order to capitalize on our strengths and accommodate for our weaknesses. We have to find our niche – what we excel at – and run with it.
Like I said, for me it’s communication. I’m also pretty good at organizing, but I’m best served having a strong business analyst along side me on a technical project who can serve as that person to document the customer need well and ensure that we continue that process as the skilled technical team takes over and creates technical specs from functional requirements. I’m technical – I used to be a developer and an application development manager and have led developers on projects for years as well as being able to estimate development efforts with the best of them – but I’m best left to coordinate, communicate, assign and delegate and leave the detailed documentation to the skilled project team resources.
Why projects fail
More projects fail than succeed. I’ve always stated that more than 50% of all projects fail. A recent number I saw in a Project Management Institute LinkedIn group study showed that approximately 76% of all projects fail to some degree. That number is huge. Some just will fail because they’re poorly defined or never should have happened. Some will fail because funding will run out. Others will fail because of senior management or the customer brings it crashing to the ground because of ever-changing requirements. It’s hard to say what will cause a project to fail until you’re in the middle of it.
Project manager failure points
We must also admit that many projects will fail because the project manager was not equipped to handle the project. Either they didn’t understand what their limitations were, couldn’t communicate with their team or manage the customer well, or weren’t good leaders or decision makers, or we’re very organized. It could be one of a hundred things.
The key for a project manager is to understand how they think and work professionally and what they’re good at and what they must admit that they are not good at. Most importantly, they must recognize those weaknesses and filter those responsibilities to the team whenever possible. Then, and only then, will they give their projects and team members their greatest chance at overall project success.
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