The Project Manager Styles & their Impact on the project

Maneesh Dutt, PMP & Nirmallya Kar, IPMA - Level D

In the world of project management, we give lots of emphasis on the processes, tools and techniques. Somewhere down the line we feel that we forget the key person who is making all this happen aka Project Manager. Especially in the knowledge industry which operates in a collaborative and influential environment the soft competencies of the Project Managers plays an important role in the successful completion of the projects. In this article we dwell on the soft competencies of the Project Managers and how it impacts the overall environment and completion of the project.

Referring to the famous Importance-Urgency matrix [1], it is easy to label the project manager styles into the four quadrants.

Every Project Manager has unique style of managing projects or should we say a default attitude in managing projects. This mindset of the project manager is a critical aspect in determining the success or failure of a project. A project lifecycle for simplicity can be divided into three major steps: Feasibility & Initiation Study, Execution and Project Closure. In addition, a project by definition is an endeavor to achieve a goal following some processes, tools and most importantly involving people.

Here below we look at the behavior and attitudes displayed by Project managers as described in the four quadrants:

The effective Project Manager: The effective project manager before anything else is the role model who naturally inspires confidence amongst his team members and at the same time is looked upon as a dependable & valuable resource of the organization by his management. Such a manager is able to generate time not only for the project processes and tools but also for developing and maintaining relationship with all the stakeholders. Moving along the project cycle let’s look at how an Effective PM behaves during the three phases of the Project Lifecycle described above.

Project initiation & Feasibility: The Quadrant 2 Project manager by nature maximizes his time working on important tasks hence it follows that he would invariably do a deep Feasibility study to have complete clarity on the outcome of the project. This PM asks all the right questions at the start of the project not forgetting that he even has a choice of saying “NO” to the project in case the project feasibility points in that direction. The effective PM realizes that by having better vision of the outcome of the project there is a higher probability of achieving it successfully.

Project Execution: The nature of all projects is such that surprises are inevitable even though a good feasibility analysis may have been done. However in the case of an Effective PM these situations are more an exception rather than a rule. During the normal or predictable time periods of the Project the effective PM “responds” to varying project situations focusing on project outcomes and maximizing his opportunities to strengthen the relationship with all the project stakeholders. Though urgent situations would still arise in projects, the Project Manager is much better placed to avoid reactive & impulsive decisions. In fact he would use such situations to develop preventive practices for avoiding such repeat incidents in the future.

Project Closure: The effective Project Manager realizes very much the importance of Project closure phase which is very much a Q2 activity and a fuel for future projects. He takes time to formally explore with the team on what went well and what could have been done better. And last but not the least thanks all the stakeholders for their contribution in achieving the project success. In today’s fast changing environment there are also situations wherein project need to be closed, due to market reasons etc., even before achieving their objectives. The Effective PM realizes that such exceptional situations demand a very effective project closure to bring to surface all suppressed emotions.

Remaining Quadrants descriptions to follow in next issue…