Not just a PRINCE

A frog on the side of a cup Valuable as it may be, a PRINCE2 qualification is not the only thing you'll need if you're going to succeed in project management. Melanie Franklin, CEO, Maven Training, and some of the specialist trainers, who work with her, share their thoughts on the qualities and skills that project managers need.

Confidence

Melanie says project managers need to get a thrill from being out of their comfort zones and will have the confidence to get involved in other areas of their organisations.

'Project management is a fantastic stepping stone into other areas of your organisation,' she says. 'You'll need to put yourself forward and get involved and be able to share your plans and ideas through networking, presentations and workshops. If you have confidence and the ability to listen and persuade you’ll find project management extremely challenging and rewarding.'

For people who like a fast-paced environment which comes with a definite deadline, project management is the ideal career. 'Creating something that did not exist before is extremely satisfying,' Melanie says. 'But it's also about being able to work in a team so you get through the tough times together.'

Honesty

Graham Shreeve, one of Maven Training's full time trainers, advises a holistic view. 'PRINCE2 is the icing on the cake but don't forget about the ingredients and recipe,' he says. 'The ability to lead means being strong, open, honest and true. These qualities, along with a genuine desire to communicate, and the ability to listen, are paramount in leading projects to successful outcomes.'

Discipline

Louise Blyth believes that anyone can be a successful project manager as long as they are disciplined. 'I think you need a clear mind and be able to understand problems. It's important that you don't blame the messenger when people tell you things are going wrong; you need to be a good listener and have the ear of your senior managers.'

Another key trait, Louise says, is that you're not a 'yes' person. 'If you can see that something won't work and you have information to back that up you must tell the relevant people. The wrong decisions can easily destroy projects'.

Calm under pressure

Neil Johnson says that in order to thrive in a project driven environment, managers must be able to communicate effectively and cope with stressful situations. 'It's important that project managers are calm and organised. They need to have a clear head and not get swamped by the challenges they face. They must also be able to demonstrate leadership skills and get people through difficulties.'

Ability to delegate

Richard Rose's advice to project managers is to not get too involved in the detail. 'Many project managers just can't delegate because they have to be involved,' he says, 'but they need to learn to trust the controls which are in place to make sure everyone delivers what is expected of them.'

'They must also be good time managers,' Richard says, 'and be able to lead from the front. They need to influence others and to be able to make decisions.'

December 2007