04.12.23 - Makeway Culture
Project Manager Q&A: Valuable Skills
Call them project managers, account managers, communication captains, or wizards of workflow. Whatever you call them, you’ll recognize their masterful communication, meticulous organization, and superb teamwork.
The project manager (“PM”) role is absolutely critical in an age of distributed teams and tight deadlines. They herd designers, developers, copywriters, and sometimes cats, to make sure projects stay on time, within budget, and up to snuff.
In our third installment of the Employee Q&A Series, a trio of Makeway project managers shares what skills are needed to be effective in the role.
Here’s what we asked:
What is one of the most valuable skills you have that has helped you succeed in your position? How has this skill been helpful to you?
Morgan Willie, Project Manager
Having a flexible yet clear communication style has helped me succeed.
As a project manager, being able to translate client requests into action items for our team is super important. To do that, you have to be an active listener and able to think simultaneously about the small details in addition to the larger project scope.
I am still learning every day about how to best communicate tasks to our devs, understanding how they like to work, and how they like to receive information.
“You have to be an active listener and able to think simultaneously about the small details in addition to the larger project scope.” – Morgan
Danielle Brooks, Project Manager
I’ve always been a little bit of a nerd for organization. I was definitely ‘that kid’ with color-coded highlighters for my planner. But this passion for being organized has served me well in project management.
I believe having next-level organizational abilities is a must for success as a PM. I’m talking ‘Marie Kondo’ levels of organization. You need to be able to take a mountain of information (scopes, emails, meeting notes, slack chats, the client’s wants, needs, your team’s skills and availability, assets, content, links, feedback), decipher what’s actually important and organize it all into a tidy manageable project with a realistic timeline, clear deliverables, and actionable tasks.
Not only do you need to be able to get organized, but you need to be able to stay organized. Projects often change and fluctuate as they progress, which requires flexibility and constant attention to detail.
Being able to bring order to chaos is an invaluable skill that every great PM needs.
“Being able to bring order to chaos is an invaluable skill that every great PM needs.” – Danielle
Andy Hellmuth, Project Manager
Asking ‘why?’ is such a critical part of being a PM.
Your job is to facilitate information between groups of people—whether that’s your internal team and a client, or between different groups within your company. But it’s not enough to just accept information without cross-referencing and stress testing it. You need to do your due diligence before you communicate or commit to something so there is no confusion or possibility of incorrect assumptions.
Why does a client want a design change? Why is a coworker asking for an extension on a due date? Understanding the why then allows you to make the necessary decisions on what steps you need to take next.
Once you understand that as PM, then you are truly able to serve your company and the client effectively.
It can be daunting to ensure every little detail is being thought of while also working toward a deadline that’s six months away. But therein lies the excitement of being a PM!
“Asking ‘why?’ is such a critical part of being a PM. It’s not enough to just accept information without cross-referencing and stress testing it.” – Andy
If you’re trying to figure out what to study in school, where to start out your career, or whether a change to PM makes sense, then these veterans have, hopefully, given you a better idea of what to expect in the role.
Check out our careers page if you’re looking for an internship or a new position. Or, if you’re interested in connecting directly, just reach out to [email protected].
And be sure to check out our previous installments of the Employee Q&A Series:
Developer Q&A: What I Wish I Knew
Designer Q&A: Creative Mindset