Roles of a project manager are characterized by short and unique project cycles. Project managers have to balance different ways of thinking and working in the team and delays among partners. Depending on the challenge they are currently dealing with, project managers slip into a wide variety of roles.
1. Be a Change Manager
Every project brings with it a certain change and changes can trigger fears or resistance in the team. One of the roles of a project manager is therefore that of a change manager. Because even if the employees' fears seem irrational to them, they are real for those affected.
Project managers slip into the role of a change manager, who accompanies the change process and faces fears openly. This ensures more security in the team in the long term: the fear dissolves and is transformed into a spirit of optimism.
2. Team Leader
Project teams usually consist of a mix of participants from different departments with different working methods and ideas about other departments. Project managers have to be true team leaders if they want to form a powerful team out of the group of individuals they are in charge of. A team in which everyone knows their role and responsibilities and supports the team.
It is important to create a sense of togetherness in the group in a short time. This is achieved by project managers involving their teammates in project planning right from the beginning, distributing tasks and working out procedures together.
Whether in team meetings, negotiations with stakeholder or reporting the project status and progress - project managers must understand the importance of good communication. Ultimately, they are the ones who set the tone and, with their verbal presence, also draw the team along.
No matter how much experience and expertise project managers have, if project managers don't know how to dominate conversations and conduct negotiations, they will have a hard time completing the project successfully.
4. Conflict Solver
Anyone who can communicate well is usually also able to deal with conflicting parties. Project managers will have to take up the role of a conflict solver from time to time during the project life cycle. A wide variety of interest groups and stakeholders are usually involved. Conflicts can range from trouble with suppliers, problems with investors, or in the project team itself.
If conflicts remain unresolved, they jeopardize the entire project. A project manager must therefore have the skills of a conflict solver. Good project managers develop a sense for discrepancies in the team over time, recognize conflicts in good time and can defuse them before they become disturbing. They have to step out of their comfort zone on a regular basis.
5. The project manager as a temporary boss
Project managers often have limitted authority. Team members are sometimes only operationally subordinate to the project manager for a certain part of their working hours, while functionally they continue to belong to their home department, from where they may receive instructions. It is extremely important that project managers demonstrate their leadership skills in right from the beginning of the project life cycle.
Project manager have to master the role of a team leader well. It is helpful to know the own values and motives and what manager type you are. If you know how you appear to the outside world, you can also show your team where you want to go, how much personal responsibility you expect from those involved and where the clear boundaries are.
6. Role of a Project Manager as a Strategist
Unforeseen challenges constantly happen. Information and decisions are delayed, budgets are not available, materials are delivered late, machines break down, etc. Good project managers are able to deal with it flexibly. They are no strangers to tactical flair and strategic skill.
Project managers always have to take the role of a strategist and have a “plan B” up their sleeves in the event of unplanned bottlenecks. They know if a solution leads to a dead end and are not afraid to take a different route in order to reach the goal via detours.
7. The Crisis Manager
A role of a project manager is that of a strategist. Project managers are prepared for unforeseeable events and, ideally, can react flexibly to them. However, disasters can strike that require flexible solutions and a great deal of ingenuity and foresight. If a project gets into such trouble that it threatens to fail, responsible people have to take up the role of crisis managers. They must be able to quickly identify the root course, understand how the crisis developed and implement a solution promptly with everyone involved in the project.