Project management is a very hard role. You might think that all PMs do is oversee the team and what they do, but it's far from the truth! Their main responsibility is to head up product strategy, which will reflect the value it brings to its users.
As a rule, Project Managers are responsible for answering these two questions:
- What user problem does the product solve? 2. How does it do better than its competition? These are the fundamentals of every product: new or existing, and you better not start working on the project with no clear answer to those.
Product Managers have to communicate with a lot of people. Stakeholders, designers, developers, QA engineers, marketing team, sales team, and that's probably not the whole list! What I'm trying to say is that PM's reach is extended to every person involved in the project. This great responsibility comes with the power to help create beautiful products with your team.
As you might have guessed, there are a lot of skills needed to be a good Project Manager. The trick is to be equally good in all of them and achieve a balance between managing a project and managing people because this role involves both.
Being able to communicate your thoughts and ideas to every person involved in the project is the most valuable soft skill. PMs must be good at communication on all levels, and there's no going around it. Empathetic people usually make the best Managers, as they can understand the client's needs, pain points, and problems. As every project is a very crowded place, you will be going through lots of people in one day, and they will have their thoughts and disagreements. You will be the one to judge and find something that will connect the team. Another important part of PM's job is presenting — lots of visual data and interviews that you will process and show to the client and your team.
You don't want the project to turn into a chaotic mess, do you? That's why you have to be good at planning. It's not like you have to be a soothsayer (or do you?), but the ability to know what might happen is quite essential. The product you're working on is like a journey: you try to plan it in detail, but you always try to make a backup plan in case something goes wrong. The same goes for the project: you plan, execute, but you're always on the lookout for setbacks.
The ability to make decisions is crucial to every job, but for you, my friend, it's a necessity! Projects are stuffed with lots of decisions big and small, impactful and not, and you will make the call every time. An important part of making a decision is backing it up with something. Yes, sometimes it will be intuitive, but most of the time you'll have to be able to clearly state your reasons. A big step to becoming a better PM is to be able to ask for more time, not jumping into big decisions. You are aiming for an awesome product and don't want to be in the wrong.
You will lead your team on a journey — and 80% of its success will be on your shoulders. It's not all about giving everyone their tasks for the day, giving feedback afterward, it's about motivating people to do better every day. Driving your team to maximum performance and morale is what having good leadership skills is.
The more people you work with, the more data and emotions go through your head. Everybody will drag the blanket to their side, leaving you to decide who's right and who's wrong. Keeping your cool no matter what is something that will save the project one day. Of all people working with you, you will be the one with a cool head, making all the right decisions.
Sometimes, you will have to choose between changing the course to a completely different one and staying the way everything was. After taking all benefits and risks into account, you are that change will do good, but others are hesitant. You will have to be the first to embrace this change and prove through various data visualizations and tests that it is better to adapt now than later when it will be significantly harder.
You must have heard about Murphy's law? Everything that can go wrong — will. No project will go without its setbacks and mistakes. You will have to be ready to take accountability for those and learn from them. The important thing here is to be sure about your decisions, only then people will follow you anywhere. You have to radiate confidence and good judgment in every word.
The ability to bring a team close together and lead them to success is one of the most important parts of your job as a project manager. Lead them to a common goal, keep the motivation game up, and you will be recognized as a great team builder and leader!
Macro & Micromanagement
You have to know your team from top to bottom, being aware of all of their skills. This will allow you to assign tasks to people who will be able to do them the best. This is what macro managing is. As for micromanagement, it is better to drop it altogether. You won't have to do it if you do the macro right. Besides, it will be quite annoying for your team to have an overseer behind their back all the time, and they will see it as a sign of you not trusting them.
Is that all?
There are countless possibilities to become a better PM, that's for sure. With every day and every project, you will get new skills and new knowledge that you'll apply to your next gigs. Always be on the lookout, and strive to lead every product to success.