How Project Managers Can Gain an Edge in the Competitive Market Stellenbosch Business School Skip to main content
Project management is universally accepted as a scarce skill, and proficient project managers are in high demand.

“Operations keeps the lights on, strategy provides a light at the end of the tunnel, but project management is the train engine that moves the organisation forward.” – Joy Gumz.

Companies are searching for project management experts knowledgeable in essential business disciplines, including strategy, finance, operations management, and marketing. As a highly skilled project manager, you will provide a unique value proposition by bridging the gap between a company’s project management and business management.

As such, maintaining a competitive advantage or edge is strongly linked to your project management skills. The role is rarely straightforward and is unique to the industry, business, and team you manage, making versatility and adaptability critical.

With competent project managers so sought after, how can you become a more competitive one within the project management market?

Here are 5 top tips for becoming an effective project manager:


Tip 1: Take the Micro Out of Micromanagement

Most office workers are entirely productive for less than three of the eight or more hours they spend at work each day. According to research, one of the most common causes of this lack of concentrated production is micromanagement. Constant monitoring and corrections stifle productivity, and the uncertainty of a manager’s acceptance of an autonomous decision makes employees less likely to act without first getting approval, even on minor concerns.

When a project is allocated to their team, project managers have a propensity to be highly cautious. This may appear rational at first glance, but it often has a totally different motivational and relational underpinning. You undervalue the capabilities of resources or put yourself in a stressful scenario to exhibit your project management skills.

This leads to persistent micromanagement, in which project managers bug and monitor people and their work, keeping a close eye on their team until the project is finished.


Tip 2: Step Back, Reassess and Redirect

Deadlines are set in a variety of methods, some of which are artificial and others real. Many project managers use an agile method, in which the various aspects of the project are mapped out and defined at the start, but priorities may shift over time.

It’s critical to discern which deadlines or priorities are real and adapt to the needs of the project as needed.

In some circumstances and industries, reassessing priorities on a regular basis and modifying work delivery becomes necessary.


Tip 3: Beat The Clock

A great project manager’s main priority is time management.

It’s important to maintain a balance between being productive during working hours and hobbies or leisure activities after hours. A skilled project manager ensures that team members can maintain this work-life balance.

When employees are less stressed, they are more likely to get along, resulting in a happier workplace overall. Staff turnover is lower in companies with a positive work environment. Because acquiring and training new personnel is costly and time-consuming, keeping your current employees can only benefit your company’s productivity.

With that in mind, one of the most significant advantages of effective time management in the workplace is increased productivity.


Tip 4: Effective and Efficient Communication is Key

The capacity to communicate effectively with stakeholders and the team can aid in the timely and cost-effective completion of a project. A competent project manager must not only be able to communicate with the person in front of them successfully but be a skilled listener as well, especially with regard to conflict resolution.

A project manager will nearly always confront challenges in any project, no matter how big or minor. As a project manager, it is critical that you maintain emotional control and do not respond rashly in these situations.

Instead, understanding your team, their pressure points, and recognising what each individual can contribute, both practically and personally, as well as their specific strengths, is vital. It would also benefit you to thoroughly understand human psychology to mediate – or prevent – disagreements between parties.


Tip 5: Stay On Top of Technology

New platforms and software are introduced to the market every day, and technology is constantly evolving.

Curiosity and knowledge of new project management ideas are unquestionably competitive advantages for project managers. The ability to recognise and capitalise on new ideas can help the project, you and the organisation succeed.


Need More Top Tips?

Traditionally, project management has been associated with the construction, engineering and energy sectors. Now, newer industries such as IT management, health care management, financial services and research also employ project managers – the scope and the need for highly skilled and adaptable project managers is expanding. This is why we recommend you enrol for the MBA project management programme at Stellenbosch Business School. Here, you not only hone your skills but learn to develop a strategic value chain aimed at giving your organisation the edge over competitors.

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