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Episode 237: The Top 10 Things Every Project Manager Should Know and Do (Free)

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Episode 237: The Top 10 Things Every Project Manager Should Know and Do (Free)Any complex project that a company undertakes has a better chance of achieving its goal, vision and the desired results if team executing the project employs both the science and art of project management.

The science you can learn and apply, because there are many courses, books, tools, techniques and software packages out there that help you understand how to manage your project from a methodological perspective. Learning the art of project management on the other hand is a different story, because it takes experience to know what you need to do, when you need to do it and how much of it to apply to a given situation.

Luckily for us, there are a lot of experienced project managers out there who are willing to share their experience and Vijayalakshmi Muthukrishnan, PMP (http://in.linkedin.com/pub/vijayalakshmi-muthukrishnan/12/49a/575) is one of them. She has worked as a project manager in both the USA and India. In support of the projects in her company she created a presentation of the 10 things that every PM should know & do. We review each item in her presentation and you will not only hear her explain why each of them is crucial as a PM skill, but more importantly she includes her suggestions, tips, tricks and steps on how to apply them properly.

All that remains to do for you is... well.. do them!

Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. 

Podcast Introduction

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to Episode #237. This is The Project Management Podcast™ at www.pm-podcast.com and I am Cornelius Fichtner. Nice to have you with us.

Any complex project that a company undertakes has a much better chance of achieving its goal, vision and the desired result if the team executing the project employs both the science and the art of project management.

The science, well, you can learn and apply that because there are many courses, books, tools, techniques and software packages out there that help you understand how to manage your project from a methodological perspective. Learning the arts of project management on the other hand is a different story because it takes experience to know what you need to do, when you need to do it and how much of it you have to apply in a given situation.

Luckily for us, there are a lot of experience project managers out there who are willing to share their experience. And Vijayalakshmi Muthukrishnan, PMP is one of them. She has worked as a project manager in both the USA and India. In support of the projects in her company, she created a presentation of the 10 things that every project manager should know and do. We review each item in her presentation and you will not only hear her explain why each of them is crucial as a project management skill but more importantly, she includes her suggestions, tips, tricks and steps on how to apply them properly.

And by the way, you will be able to find a PDF article about these 10 things written by her on our websites. All that reminds for you to do now is well do them.

And now, here are the top of the PM pops. Enjoy the interview.

Podcast Interview

Female voice: The Project Management Podcast’s feature Interview: Today with Vijayalakshmi Muthukrishnan, Project Manager at Hewlett-Packard.

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello Vijayalakshmi and welcome to the Project Management Podcast!

Vijayalakshmi Muthukrishnan: Very good morning, Cornelius and thank you for having me in this Project Management Podcast interview.

Cornelius Fichtner: Oh, you’re more than welcome and thank you very much being available this late in the evening for you. So we want to talk about the top 10 things that a project manager must know. Why did you create this presentation and article? What was the reason behind it?

Vijayalakshmi Muthukrishnan: Well, there is a famous saying that when you stop learning, you stop growing. That is very true. I always like to grow in my career and try to keep myself updated as much as I can. And as you know, PMI also encourages continuous learning. I recently renewed PMP® certification and as part of that renewal process, I underwent few trainings. I went through many learning materials, which was very useful and informative. That information made me deep dive into the topics which I already knew about project management. This entire learning process made me create this article.

Cornelius Fichtner: And how long have you been a project manager yourself and what type of projects do you work on?

Vijayalakshmi Muthukrishnan: I am playing a role of a project manager for the past 4 years. Initially, I was project manager handling development projects at Detroit, Michigan and I was playing that role for 2 years and then I was back to India. Since then, I’m playing a role of a transformation manager. As a transformation manager, I am involved in transitional for multiple applications into my organization which are currently being supported by various teams incumbency.

Cornelius Fichtner: What city do you live in in India?

Vijayalakshmi Muthukrishnan: I live in Chennai.

Cornelius Fichtner: Okay, yes! And how did you come up with this top 10 list? What made you select these 10 items?

Vijayalakshmi Muthukrishnan: You know well Cornelius as you know, every project manager has to deal with different targets, different environments and last but not least, different kinds of people. Therefore, only the know-how and do-how technique will transform any project manager into an excellent project manager.

If you see, there is not one specific quality that makes an excellent project manager but there are collections of qualities that needs to be balanced to meet the needs of the projects. So also, there is no specific order to these qualities. All play an important role.

In this article, I have come up with top 10 qualities that are required for successful project manager based on my perspective and my experience.

Cornelius Fichtner: Okay, well let’s go through them. We have 10 of them to look at and the first one is “A project manager inspires a shared vision.” What do you mean by that?

Vijayalakshmi Muthukrishnan: Yeah, sure we can explain that. If you think: What makes one team more productive than another and what does that pulls a team together enabling the members to work together more effectively?

So the answer is very simple like any good partnership. The key for a successful team work is having a shared vision of mutually creating an image of the future. So there is a famous quote: “Vision without action is a daydream and action without vision is nightmare.” So here I’m talking about the later part of the quote.

As an effective project leader, we should have a clear vision of where to go and should have the ability to articulate it. Only then the team understands on what needs to be achieved and how it can be achieved at a high level. It is easy to get confused vision with goal.

Vision is a big picture like it gives overall aim of the project whereas goal on the other hand is more specific. It is measurable and time bound. So there are multiple ways to achieve a goal and we need to choose to best one based on our experience and stick with it. So setting appropriate goal in the beginning will allow us to have a smoother sail down the road and have a successful delivery. To summarize I would say when team members share a similar vision, they feel vested to deliver their best.

Cornelius Fichtner: Alright. Number 2 on your list: “A project manager has to be a good communicator.”

Vijayalakshmi Muthukrishnan: Yes. This is very important skill I would say for any project manager for the growth in their career. If you see most of the manager’s time is spent in communicating and attending meetings. When communication is used very frequently, we cannot afford to do it poorly. That is the main thing.

We manager, we handle different kinds of people, different kinds of projects and we interact with people at all levels. If you see each project is different and each person is different so we need to ensure the approach that we have has to vary in order to get the best of the person in any given situation.

For example for some people in the team, we need to just tell them the task and the deadline and they’ll just deliver it. But for some people, we need to do a regular followup. For some person, unless and until we begin to the issue, they’ll not talk. They’ll be very reluctant.

So the key is that to be a great project manager, we should instinctively know how to balance any kind of situation and should do whatever it takes to get the job done and deliver the project successfully. So the manager is in general any manager is expected to be a effective communicator, presenter, facilitator and leader. You see all of them require communication to be the key area here and it is one of the best skills to climb up the corporate ladder.

I would like to share a few tips to be a good communicator:

  • The first one is, we should make regular interactions with the team. We should speak to our team members.
  • And the second part is we should increase our listening abilities so that way, we will be able to gather the complete teams’ thought and we will be able to incorporate them.
  • Point 3 is we should master the art of writing emails. We should master the verbal and non-verbal communication skills.
  • The fourth one is we should be proactive in communication. That is very essential for any success of the project.
  • And last but not the least, we should keep the communications positive.

To summarize, the art of communication is the language of leadership.

Cornelius Fichtner: Very nice. Number 3 on your list is that “A project manager has to be strong on project management fundamentals.” What do you mean by that?

Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete PDF transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

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