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10 Things To Know About Project Managers

Posted by Ken Lanigan - CEO

I have always been a sales and marketing guy. In my inbound marketing agency, I go in and dazzle the client with the answers to their problems and get the deal signed. After that the work begins and in order to give the client all the bells and whistles that we promised, I go to Karolina. Today it’s Karolina, but in the past, I have always relied on someone like Karolina - that is, a person who brings together all the assembled talent that you have and moulds it together to hit the agreed KPIs. We are talking about a great project manager.


Every company big or small depends on the quality of its leadership. If that leadership has great project management skills, or better still, you have some talented project managers, then you will always have an advantage.

The traditional view of a project manager is based on a stereotype, a stereotype of note taking, setting up meetings and generally doing the work in the background. If you have that in your head when you go to hire a project manager or give someone in your business a new "title" as project manager, then STOP.

So, I wanted to help you out by telling you what a real project manager looks like and why as the person making the hire you need to understand how important that role is.

I have always looked at "project managers" as my equal (the really good ones were probably better than I was at getting things done but they kept it to themselves). In my career, project managers had different titles: in publishing they were "editors", in retail they were the "managers" and in government they are the "civil servants".

What are the requirements to look for in a great project manager? Here's ten things to know:

  1. A great project manager loves going to work.

It’s not just a job for them, its’ a career. They understand the importance of their role to any organisation and are there to help build the company as an integral part of the management structure.

  1. They have a natural ability to lead.

When you have worked with a great project manager you can see how colleagues are drawn to them. They know how to get the best from people without borrowing power and are seen positively throughout the company.

  1. They have the ability to see through the fog.

project_managers_do_not_get_lost_in_fog_and_other_requirements_for_the_role.gifAny project of a decent size has some "foggy" sections, the parts that need to be done at a certain point within the project. For example, if we are creating an integrated inbound marketing strategy for one of our clients, we know that at some stage we will need to look at their SEO, but we first have to take care of their buyer personas, then move on to the next task. A great project manager understands what to take note of, how to approach the project in a step by step process, and how not be distracted by getting lost in the fog.

  1. They have an ability to focus on the job.

When you see a poor project manager in action you see that they get pulled around, reacting without sufficient focus on the core elements of the project. The really good project managers see the big picture and understand how to manage the team towards an agreed timeline and KPIs.

  1. They listen and ask the right questions.

I have been lucky in my time to have worked with some excellent project managers. One thing that always struck me at a meeting with the client or the team actually doing the project is that the project manager asks extremely compelling questions – those that focus directly on the work in progress - and then listens to the answers. The rest of the team might slip into a debate over organic content versus adwords, but the project manager will bring thing back on track and ask whether what you have agreed to do in the project has been done, or when it will be done by. It is only after the meeting that you really see how a great project manager manages the outcomes of any given meeting.

  1. They don’t use information as a stick to beat people with.

When your project manager has information, it is used as a way to get the best out of all involved. It is never used as a way to undermine or isolate any members of the team.

It’s about giving out information to team members at the time that its needed while understanding that their team members know what to do with it. For instance, in turning a brochure-style website into an ROI-based business asset, they will provide the design team and content creator with the relevant guidelines and data needed to make that happen.

  1. They know their stuff.

Your project manager needs to know how to run a project in a style that suits the project.

The project manager can choose from Scrum, Agile, Pert, etc, but it’s important that whatever is decided upon, it’s the right style for that project.

  1. They are good at conflict resolution.

If you have ever worked on a big project with set deadlines, you will have seen that from time to time you will have conflict. A great project manager will be able to resolve these issues while keeping the project moving forward, never being seen as a rival within the team. Egos are all around and you will need someone who can lead.


  1. They know what to do when they face a ‘Houston, we have a problem’ scenario.

Most projects at some stage will hit a snag. It could be a client facing content creation problems, a website not working, or a client not qualifying their leads well enough. What you will need is a project manager who can reach out to a network they have built and get the issue resolved with the minimum of fuss. If you have a good project manager you will never see them "flushed" as everything is under control.

  1. They get promoted.

Where do great project managers go? I can only speak from my own experience and I have found that the really great ones go and do an MDA or a further management course or degree. They then end up in very senior roles within their organisations. The very best move up to CEO and COO positions.

So, to end this little take on project management, the first and most important question to ask is: “Can I really do without a great project manager?" The answer is no, you can’t. I can promise you this: a great project manager is one of the most important hires you will make. I know I always pay over the standard rate for a quality project manager. Why? Because they are worth it.

Project management is just one of our many strengths. Ifyou woul dlike to find out how we can help your business or agency to grow with an effective inbound marketing strategy, book a call with us:



Ken Lanigan - CEO

Ken Lanigan - CEO

Ken is at the heart of operations within Get Focused, with a clear line of sight on delivery.

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