What Makes a Good Project Manager?


At a company that values relationships over the bottom line and that believes how we work is as important as the work itself, project management is as much an exercise in human empathy as it is an exercise in managing time and resources. Because of the requirements of the work, philosophies of project management tend to focus on efficiency, tooling, and performance as ways to judge the merit of project managers. While Dayspring doesn’t disagree with any of those values, we’ve also developed our own set of ideas around what makes a good project manager in our own company context.

A good project manager prioritizes empathy

Project managers should aim not just to complete a project, but to complete a project that satisfies the client’s needs. A good PM not only listens to a client’s communicated requirements, but also seeks to deeply understand the underlying problem and pain points the client faces. No two projects will be the same; the complexity of real world situations requires a project manager to know their client well enough to step into the client’s shoes and fight for the client’s best interests as if they were their own. 

Similarly, project managers need to remain empathetic towards their team. At Dayspring, we don’t believe in maximizing productivity or stretching our employees for their hours! Rather, we strive for a workplace that prioritizes the relationships we share with each other. We don’t see empathy as an afterthought, but rather as a priority. PMs need to manage deadlines and progress, but they are also responsible for viewing their teammates as humans rather than outputs.

A good project manager takes responsibility for time and budget

Projects have deadlines, and as a digital consulting agency, our clients have dynamic and changing needs. A good project manager takes both of these into account and manages the controllable aspects of a project in order to ensure a smooth delivery. It’s the project manager’s responsibility to make sure a project is completed on time and within budget. They are constantly problem solving and coordinating solutions to complications or delays that might arise.

Project managers take ownership and never hide from communicating bad news. They make both short and long term plans to anticipate potential problems before they arise and to share the right information and resources with the people who need them. A good project manager is directive and collaborative; supporting others in their work and guiding the overall project to ultimately make sure it gets done well. 

A good project manager sees both the forest and the trees

A good project manager keeps track of details and the overarching goal at the same time. At a small consulting company that often works with multiple clients at once, none of our project managers have the luxury of doing project management in isolation. Many double as developers who carry some (if not most) of the technical work as well. The benefits are clear: our project managers hone the ability to see both the forest and the trees—able to understand the bigger picture of what needs to get done, but also able to keep track of the smallest details.

PMs learn to translate a client’s needs and budget into something actionable: taking an overall vision and dividing it up into concrete pieces that can be built and delivered. They take ownership over deliverables and help the client prioritize their budget against particular features as the project evolves. They may get their hands dirty by participating in the work, but if they do, they also make sure never to lose sight of the goal.

A good project manager communicates effectively

At the end of the day, Dayspring strives to do work that serves our clients. A good project manager is able to take an empathetic approach to understanding both their client contact as well as their team. As the go-between, the PM takes on the responsibility of communicating both vision and context of the project to their teammates. 

Likewise, a good PM stays in close communication with the client in order to share status updates, any encountered roadblocks, and subsequent adjustments needed for the timeline of the project. They never shy away from honesty. As necessary, PMs shield their teammates from project requirements such that tasks can be portioned in bite-sized chunks that are actionable in isolation. Communicating workflows, making strategic decisions, and staying organized are all vital components to ensuring a successful project.

How do I find or hire a good project manager?

Hiring and finding the right people is never easy. Our philosophy at Dayspring is to always see people as people, not as outputs of work or skill sets to be leveraged. We recognize that as a digital agency, we have talent and experiences that can help our clients solve problems they are tackling in their work. 

People who seek our professional services may or may not have a team member on their team functioning as a project manager. Great! We love working in collaboration and would love to get in touch. If you need our team to handle the project management for you, schedule a free consultation call with us and we’ll help assess what will best fit your needs.

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