Project Manager and Team Roles [video blog]

by Jennifer Bridges, PMP (formerly, Jennifer Whitt)

Many times, the most difficult thing a project manager must do is determine who’s on first. With so many people on a team, knowing the delineation between the roles of project manager and all the team members can be confusing. In many environments, individuals wear multiple hats, such as the project manager who doubles as the business analyst, or fills a technical role.  In our experience with project management, we’ve observed key trends between project managers and team players and want to share those trends that define great team leaders and exceptional team players, acknowledging that both roles are equally critical. Later, we will also identify some project management pitfalls that entrap the project manager and impact project success.

What really makes a project manager a great team leader?  The exceptional team leader is applying best practices. Companies often look to hire project management professionals with that attribute: they have devoted time to actually study and learn best practices. That may mean joining The Project Management Institute (PMI), an organization that manages and maintains best practices, or perhaps becoming familiar with PRINCE2 best practices. , or perhaps working with your own organization to develop their own. In any event, an exceptional team leader takes the time and has the discipline and focus to actually learn and keep current on best practices.

Training is also a trademark of project managers who are great team leaders – they are investing time, money, and energy in staying up-to-date with their professional development. It doesn’t matter if it’s online training, self-paced downloadables, webinars or traditional course room lectures; there are countless options for project management training.

A third trend is conference attendance. There are project management conferences all over the world, nationally and locally. Conferences give project managers the opportunity to share ideas with peers and learn from thought leaders/researchers that are bringing new insights to the field of best practices.

A fourth trend is using project management software. There are still many large consultancies that conduct corporate assessments, even on Fortune 500 companies, without using any type of project management software, despite all the different choices available today. I know of a large, profitable, global insurance company whose team members as of today are still using paper to track task activities on a project. It can be done, but an exceptional team leader will go the distance to evaluate project management software and make recommendations to the team and company to implement.

An exceptional team leader also uses project management templates. By bringing together a core set of templates for the team and project, time is saved and greater efficiency and project effectiveness becomes possible. Consistency in using templates will actually begin to mature not only your project but the organization as well.

If you found these tips from Jennifer Whitt, PMP of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in her self-paced, downloadable courses at PDUs2Go.com.

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