Becoming an effective project manager is difficult. Yes, there are courses on project management and companies that provide leadership training. But that doesn’t cover all the challenges effective project managers face. It lays a good foundation to start from, but there’s more to it than that.

Also, it’s habits that define how we really are. So, here is a list of habits that define highly effective project managers from our experience.

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1. Highly effective project managers get all stakeholders involved

stakeholders involved

A successful project satisfies the needs and wants of all those affected. To this end, all stakeholders need to communicate their expectations clearly at the onset of a project. Effective project managers know this and get all stakeholders involved as soon as possible.

What’s more, they keep stakeholders involved and updated along the way. Once needs are communicated and structured clearly, effective project managers regularly update stakeholders on progress. This way, if there are any conflicts, reviews can be made to the initial requirements before it’s too late.

2. Highly effective project managers are good communicators

Good communication is a key ingredient for successful projects. Effective project managers master both verbal and nonverbal communication. They know that the way they communicate sets the tone for how the team communicates and for the atmosphere inside a team.

To this end, honesty, transparency, clarity, positive feedback are crucial. All those are important values that shape an effective project manager’s communication style. Also, there is no room for negativity, aggressiveness, shouting or name calling as they negatively impact performance.

3. Highly effective project managers master the art of planning

Highly effective project managers are also planning masters. They can balance the budget, time and workload demands from all the parties involved.

Once they have input from all stakeholders, they break the work into manageable, specific tasks. They also outline deliverables and set clear deadlines for important milestones in the project.

What’s more, effective project managers are familiar with their team members and their work style. They can accurately evaluate each team member’s performance in order to estimate available resources and how long it will actually take to deliver a project.

4. Highly effective project managers create a safe space for the team

This is highly important, especially in creative industries. When people feel scared or unwelcome, they hold back from putting forth their true potential and their actual ideas. This, in turn can impact productivity and performance.

In order to be efficient, team members need a positive environment where they feel welcome and free to contribute. Effective project managers know that it’s important to create a space where people feel safe to share opinions, ideas and possible worries. When people don’t feel threatened in any way, they can open up and make an effort to put in good work.

5. Highly effective project managers allow team members task ownership

Task ownership

Micromanagement generally drains the life and joy out of both project manager and team members. For project managers, it ends up taking up a lot of their time. For team members, micromanagement can deprive them of that sense of meaningfulness and slowly chip away at motivation. Additionally, too many directions generally stifle creativity and personal development.

Highly effective project managers know that, in order to do their best work, people need some degree of control over it. It also makes them feel more motivated and be more engaged at work.

New research into the science of motivation has proved this as well. According to Daniel Pink, author of Drive, in order to be motivated, people need autonomy, a sense of purpose and a sense of being part of something bigger than yourself.

While the second and the third item are harder to provide, autonomy is not. It’s within each project manager’s reach to allow team members to decide how they perform their tasks. Also, effective project managers know how to strike a balance between team and individual needs so things don’t go out of hand.

6. Highly effective project managers have the right tools in place

Once upon a time, all people had when it came to time and project management was their personal agenda. And a rolodex of contacts. That time, however, is long gone. Currently, there is a wide array of project management tools available.

Effective project managers make use of tools that actually make their lives easier. They know it’s important to track progress and that visualizations can make their job simpler. From dedicated task management platforms like Teamweek to shared calendars and file management systems, effective project managers have the right tools in place.

7. Highly effective project managers make sure information gets shared

For a good workflow, all team members need to be kept up to date with recent changes. Effective project managers know that it’s vital for team members to have access to information so they can perform their tasks.

Making sure that all information is clearly communicated and shared can also impact the number of interruptions at work. For example, if a developer has all the specs of a design, he/she won’t need to reach out to a designer that often.

Making sure that information is always shared will also establish a good atmosphere within the team. If people are not up to date with information that involves them, they might feel left out. By communicating all the latest developments, project managers show they value everyone on the team. It also proves that they don’t play favorites, that there are no secrets and it sets the base for transparency and good communication.

8. Highly effective project managers celebrate milestones

Some projects can last a long time – six months to one, two years or maybe even longer. When the outcome is still far down the road, team members can lose sight of the original goal and start to lose motivation. In these cases, keeping team members motivated and engaged is crucial.

Highly effective project managers take time to regularly celebrate important milestones. This works both to refresh motivation and as a an acknowledgment for each participant’s input. Effective project managers know that celebrating milestones shows how each team member contribution and proves that progress is visible.

9. Highly effective project managers master the meetings games

It is said that sitting is the smoking of the 21st century. Along with meetings. It is widely acknowledged that the former can be a waste of time as meetings are called even when it’s not the case.

Effective project managers know the proper way to run a meeting. They know that time is precious and that team members are better off actually working instead of wasting time in meetings without a clear purpose.

When they decide to call a meeting, effective project managers have a clear goal in mind. Additionally, they also prepare an agenda for the meeting. They outline what needs to be discussed and what conclusions need to be reached. Also, during a meeting, they keep things focused and keep them from straying too far off from the topic at hand.

10. Highly effective project managers manage their own stress

Effective project managers are highly self-aware and know that in order to perform well, they need to take care of themselves as well. They take the time out to recharge their batteries. They know the danger of burning out and they know how to care about themselves. It is essential for looking out for other team members.

Additionally, effective project managers don’t let stress get the upper hand and the best of them. Even under pressure, they don’t give in into fatalistic mindsets or don’t make rash decisions. Even if emergencies do come up, they manage them without losing their heads or without making impulse decisions. Yes, changes occur very often. Yes, deadlines can be tight. But they don’t allow stress to overpower them or to burn them out.

Now, back to you. If you know any exceptional project managers, make their day and mention them in the comments below! 🙂

Also, sharing is caring – don’t be afraid to pass this article to someone who would appreciate it. Many thanks in advance!


Laura Sima

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Beautifully simple project planning.
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