For project manager, read consultant!

The emphasis for many project managers within organisations is to further develop and build on their project management skills. This usually means attending a project management course, such as our two day Perfect Project event or maybe PRINCE2 or ITIL or equivalent. These are really good programmes and they will certainly help develop their project management skills.

However; and it is a big however, project managers tell me they sometimes struggle to manage clients. They struggle to really understand their needs; they struggle to work in partnership with them.

Well here is a possible solution. I have suggested many times that project managers should develop consultancy skills alongside their project skills. This often raises a few eyebrows. When however I explain my thinking, nods appear! So why do I suggest the need for consultancy skills and what do I mean?

Project managers have to formally contract with a client (internally or externally).They need to establish exactly what they are delivering. There is therefore a requirement for the project manager to have good diagnostic skills. This means asking difficult questions; what is the problem? How often does it occur? What are the causes and what is the impact of the problem? Is it worthwhile solving? Subtle follow up skills are required; following up from initial answers and of course listening.

Building relationships with the client is essential; add to the mix the fact that many projects involve change, dealing with and managing conflict, negotiating and influencing, sharing a vision (with the client), and you can see that the job of a project manager is all embracing; project skills and consulting skills.

As one project manager said; “it’s all very well to delivering the project however if we have alienated the client then its only half the job done.”

So if your organisation is running a consultancy skills event, book yourself onto it. If not, contact me!

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