1. Political prowess
Excellent project managers have a high degree of political nous. They are great in understanding the political environment they operate in and can form alliances, negotiate and bargain effectively to achieve outcomes. That means they have the personality and persuasive skills to go into a boardroom, quite often with difficult people, and have their voice properly heard.
You’ll also understand the impact government policy and politics has on the wider commercial world and be up-to-date politically.
While not absolutely required, a passion for politics can also be a bonus. You will stay savvy by following Twitter feeds, such as the likes of @PubAffairs, @PRWeekUKnews and @UKparliament, and reading the news religiously.
2. Passion for social good
As a PM in the public or third sector, you will be dealing very closely with matters of great societal importance. Often, you’ll be involved with very vulnerable parts of the community and helping successfully implement projects that will impact the lives of many. You’ll likely work in delicate and highly important fields such as children’s’ social care, adult social care, health, education and environment.
As far as we are concerned, you must be passionate about delivering ‘social good’ outcomes to be a truly impactful PM in the public sector, third sector or for a social good organisation. In return, you’ll have the satisfaction of doing work that truly ‘makes a difference’.
3. Be a change agent
The only constant in the world of public policy and governance is change. At the drop of a hat, budgets might be cut, resources may disappear, people could come and go. The landscape is ever-changing. Excellent project managers instinctively enjoy the thrill and uncertainty that comes with change and are averse to long periods of predictability. Just as importantly, they will encourage confidence in colleagues during these crucial moments.
4. Display empathy
Empathy refers to the awareness of and sensitivity to the experiences, thoughts, and feelings of others. As the purpose of many programmes and projects in the public and third sectors is to help others, an inherent sense of empathy is something a great project manager has.
Empathy also enables you to connect deeply with members of a team to get to the bottom of any problems and issues that may be arising throughout the project’s lifespan. It will also help you to resolve them sensitively and effectively.
5. Practice patience
For a number of reasons, things can move a little slower in the public and third sectors. Budget constraints, reporting practices and the need for scrutiny when it comes to spending tax money can make a PM’s life in the ‘social good’ sector challenging. Then
there can be all those tedious sign-off procedures and other bits of bureaucracy, not to mention the moods and high tensions that can arise when difficult circumstances and times of crisis hit. As they say, patience really is a virtue.
It takes a special breed of project manager to tackle the complex public or third sector environment, but finding the right person for the job will without a doubt be worth it.
It takes a special breed of project manager to tackle to the complex public or third sector environment, but finding the right person for the job will without a doubt be worth it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lee Tobin, Marketing Expert
Lee is a professional storyteller. She uses a storybook approach to emotively communicate your organisation’s core messages to your target audience. She especially loves social media and believes that comms should always be bold.