Something new, every week

[07:00 AM, Monday morning] The alarm goes off, the sun is already awake and another interesting and busy week begins. In fact, as a project manager I hope it is exactly like that. Last week’s challenges are still before my eyes: figuring out how to do Voice over in real time, managing a 30K TEP in just 2 days… Challenges which are about to continue this week as well…

The P in PM is as much about ‘people management‘ as it is about ‘project management’.”

Cornelius Fichtner

WHATs and WHYs

The truth is that something changes with, within and around the people when they become project managers. And in my head the questions start popping up:

  • What’s exactly changes when someone becomes a project manager?
  • Why some people are better project managers than others?
  • What’s the general recipe for success?

We cannot answer all these questions, and honestly, hardly anyone can. However, I will try to suggest some ideas that are of a huge importance to both the new project manager and the experienced one – even to those looking towards more responsible positions.

Let’s start from the skills. There are three main groups of skills to master in order to be successful as a project manager: technical skills, collaboration or ‘working with others’ skills and conceptual skills.

A project manager has skills

Having the right set of skills is crucial for any profession. As far as project management goes, technical skills are the main professional skills to be developed before starting a PM career. So, if you have little experience and are hired at such a position, it’s most likely because of your good technical skills. It is great to have them and they will help you a lot in the beginning – working with a Translation Management System, dozens of CAT tools and other related software. But growing as a project manager will require you to change how you use those skills. Think of them as a tool to help your PM colleagues and subordinates rather than demonstrating competence.

A project manager thinks outside the box

Conceptual skills represent the ability to “see” and predict the outcome of an action, together with the ability to think from a different point of view. These skills become more and more important the higher you climb the company ladder. With your technical skills as the foundation, conceptual skills will take you much further in mastering project management. An abstract look at your daily and mundane tasks can be hard to achieve, but will open a whole world of larger concepts and ideas which keep the company’s “big picture” in focus.

A project manager is a team member

Overall, as a project manager your technical skills should be less and less used over time, and your conceptual skills should be taking over. Collaboration skills however are equally important at all levels. It can be said that they are a kind of a ladder upon which the manager gradually climbs upward. If the ladder is not evenly strong over its entire length, it will inevitably break. And while this time we won’t go into deeper details on the essence of these skills, it is crucial to emphasize one thing. Being good at working with people can compensate for gaps in the other two fundamental skills mentioned above.

Wrap-up, Deliver, Close

[06:00 PM, late afternoon] Time to go home. 42 projects have been successfully delivered, followed by the same number of hearty THANK YOUs from satisfied clients and partners. 156 emails in the Inbox and about 30 phone calls for new and exciting projects. Tomorrow will surely bring more challenges. Being a project manager is a never-ending experience, and that’s why it can never get boring ;)!

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About the author

Denitsa Stefanova
Project Manager

Denitsa Stefanova is a language and culture enthusiast and a project manager at TransGlobe International. She has studied Master’s in Media and Convergence Management in Austria and has obtained Master’s Degree in Translatology in French language. She is passionate about writing, digital marketing and travel. With more than 2 years of experience as a Project Manager, she believes that she is already following her "real mission’’ in life.

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