Requirements profile of a project manager
Technical tasks versus management tasks
On the one hand, due to the novelty and complexity of project tasks, it is often impossible to say directly which technical discipline is the "most important". On the other hand, technical qualifications tend to focus on the technical contribution without paying attention to the actual management tasks. In addition, the project manager may be overburdened by the constant involvement of the project team, which takes him away from his technical work.
The importance of a project manager's leadership experience and quality increases roughly in proportion to the size of the project and the project team. The longer and more complex a project is, and the more project members and material resources it involves, the more important leadership tasks become in relation to the technical tasks that the project manager has to perform.
Basic knowledge of business administration - and in some projects also of contract law - as well as knowledge of basic working methods are indispensable. Added to this are social skills. Today, it is no longer enough to master planning tools in order to carry out successful project work. A project manager must be able to demonstrate technical, methodological, organisational and social competence. Social skills are primarily learned through social interaction. A project manager can develop very well in the area of social competences by obtaining feedback, critical self-reflection and consistent learning. For competence building and development, the project manager should seek support.
There are various checklists that show the requirements depending on the industry and type of project. In general, the project manager should have the following:
2. Professional / life experience
5. Independent, entrepreneurial thinking
6. Courage to take calculated risks
7. Strategic, forward-looking thinking and action
8. Ability to learn (learning from mistakes and successes, learning from others)
9. Ability to analyse (e.g., see through complex interrelationships in the area of costs / finances)
11. Ability to set and follow priorities
12. Ability to work in a team
13. Leadership skills (e.g., ability to delegate, ability to make decisions)
14. Awareness of power
15. Comprehensive thinking (cross-project, cross-company)
16. Customer orientation
The essential course towards project success is set with the formulation of goals, taking into account all stakeholders and consistent project planning. Nevertheless, unforeseen and complex situations arise again and again that the project manager has to cope with. To do this, he needs the ability to think in a holistic, networked way and the willingness to ensure smooth, motivated cooperation between employees from different disciplines.
- the task: proactive, committed, motivated and solution-oriented
- the team: fair, appreciative and helpful
- themselves: open and self-controlled
- the company: loyal and responsible
For example, in the sense of openness, "open" can mean that the person sees new things as exciting and challenging, has a positive basic attitude and assumes good will or actively approaches others and builds trust.
This is probably still not an adequate description of the term openness, but it gives a good opportunity for personal orientation and active self-development.
He must appear as a leader and thereby have a positive, motivating effect on his project team and turn his team members into supporters. The client, business partners and customers must be able to recognize his competence and pleasant charisma and take his project, his tasks and, not least, him as a person seriously.
Everything that is conducive to this must be observed and worked on. The foundation for success is the competence, confident appearance and self-confidence of the project manager. His communication skills and body language - facial expressions and gestures - are the stairway to the top for him and his project. His pleasant, well-groomed appearance, his good manners and etiquette are the railing that gives him support.
Requirements for project managers
If there is an over-fulfilment of certain requirement types, the candidate is overqualified and better suited for a more demanding position. If there is an under-fulfilment, further training measures can help to achieve an alignment of the requirement and ability profile. However, requirement types and levels must be assigned to specific activities in order to be meaningful. Therefore, the matrix is a very individual and subjective matter, depending on the characteristics of the vacancy, the applicant, the responsible recruiter, the company and other factors. It should not contain too many criteria to ensure a quick overview. One option is for all project stakeholders who will be dealing with the project manager to draw up the requirements profile together. This increases acceptance for the new colleague. The disadvantage is that too many opinions may lead to a bloated, watered-down result, true to the saying of Sir Alec Issigonis (designer of the famous British car model Mini): "A camel is a horse designed by a committee."
The requirements outlined below as examples are sorted in descending order of importance for this project. Other projects may have different requirements and rankings.
Requirements for international project managers
- Individual and social competence
- Professional international competence
- Intercultural competence
Individual and social competence
Professional international competence
The project manager in demand here is a versatile, inquisitive and cosmopolitan person who also gathers and develops knowledge and experience in areas that have nothing to do with project-related challenges, such as controlling project cost development, managing project processes and technical know-how to deliver the project's performance.
As shown here, a project manager has a wide range of responsibilities, which places almost superhuman demands on his knowledge and experience. But knowledge of all these necessary skills is only one side of the coin. The successful project manager is one who has an unquenchable thirst for constant and continuous improvement. The other side of the coin is a personal thirst for knowledge, coupled with a healthy dose of eagerness to learn.
Conclusion: Simple in theory - challenging in practice
- Show what you already know and what experience you have already gained (personal status quo).
- Look at what knowledge and experience you ideally need to bring to the table in order to realise a successful project (personal target status).
- Identify deviations, set your priorities and close the gaps.
- Enjoy your successes in your development as a project manager and note that small steps also lead to the goal.