Skip to content

How to become a better project manager

Added to your CPD log

View or edit this activity in your CPD log.

Go to My CPD
Only APM members have access to CPD features Become a member Already added to CPD log

View or edit this activity in your CPD log.

Go to My CPD
Added to your Saved Content Go to my Saved Content
Shutterstock 1233205306

We all want to be good at what we do and despite having the technical knowledge or hands-on experience, there are always ways to improve. Being a good project professional isn’t solely about project delivery, it’s also about building relationships and leading. Here we share some ways that you can become a better project manager with tips from the Assemble You Learning Podcasts:

1. Get people to like you

Sounds like a teenager’s magazine tip, but being liked is something we all want, no matter our age. And getting people to like you isn’t something that’s natural, manipulative or arrogant; it’s a vital skill that can help you lead projects better.

First impressions count and making a good first impression really matters so even if people warm to you gradually, perhaps you want to speed this up:

  • Asking questions is a great way to build rapport and allows people to open up to you.
  • Let people elaborate about themselves and generate pleasant memories with you, they’ll want to see you again.
  • Smile! Whether you’re sitting, standing, arms folded, unfolded – a smile is contagious so when you smile, chances are the person will smile back.
  • Be vulnerable but genuine and share your truth when you can.

2. Really learn to listen

Have you ever caught yourself talking more in a conversation? Do you often think of what you want to say when someone else is talking? Do you actually listen to the people in your team? Your sponsor? Customers? If we’re really honest with ourselves, we can admit that we should work on our listening skills.

  • Asking pertinent questions, occasionally, can show the speaker that you’re listening and not just waiting for your turn to talk.
  • Listen openly and try to help with constructive suggestions rather than listening for and pointing out problems. You don’t always have to agree with the speaker, but avoid being defensive when you’re listening – you’ll miss valuable details.
  • Remember to suspend judgment when you’re listening and watch your body language, an eye roll can impact whoever is the speaker.

3. Make body language your greatest ally

Body language really does matter, think about the speakers you admire, do they stare at the floor, or sit with their arms crossed? Probably not. The way people observe us can make or break our relationship with them. What we’re doing non-verbally, with our expressions or tone, can change the way what we are saying is perceived so here are some techniques to supercharge your non-verbal communication skills:

  • Eye contact is one of the most important parts of good body language, and this doesn’t mean to stare infinitely. Hold eye contact for a few seconds before glancing away and back again. If you have trouble making eye contact, look between the eyes to the nose bridge.
  • On Zoom or Teams? Look into the camera, rather than the screen.
  • Nodding can help you stand out as someone who is engaged with a conversation, and if you’re talking and someone else is nodding, give them some eye contact and nod along!

4. Use plain English and simplicity

It’s a nightmare trying to understand someone who has eaten a thesaurus, whether they’re speaking or writing. Clear writing and speaking can help us understand important information - it helps us avoid misunderstanding and prevents us from causing confusion.

  • Avoid over complex and jargon filled language – chances are people will fall asleep or skim to the important details.
  • Short sentences are the goal because they’re more memorable and easier to read than particular, long and extravagant sentences, filled with unnecessary and pointless adjectives that you cannot keep track of, much like this one.
  • Ask someone to proofread an article or report, or listen in to a presentation if you want practice and feedback.

Learn more about becoming a better project manager on APM Learning's Podcast Library with the new Learning Podcasts.


Join the conversation!

Log in to post a comment, or create an account if you don't have one already.