How to be an Effective Project Manager

Having been an avid watcher of NBC’s The Apprentice since the show’s first season, I had always wondered what kind of Project Manager (PM) I would be if given a spot on the show.

If you haven’t watched the show, I highly recommend you start on January 2, 2017, which is when the latest season will air. 

On The Apprentice, there are two teams that compete each week on various business projects that range from event planning to fundraising projects. Both teams each week select a Project Manager to lead the team.

Warren Buffet, The Apprentice on NBC
Business leaders like Warren Buffet & Steve Ballmer will be serving as advisors to the now Arnold Schwarzenegger hosted primetime show, The Apprentice. Photo: Business Insider

At the end of the week, the team that loses, their PM has to select two other team members to come into the boardroom to see who is fired. One of the most compelling parts about this aspect of the show, is that pretty much 9 times out of 10, the PM is fired.

Why? You ask. Because the PM dictates the organization of the project, as well as has the responsibility to enforce which tasks team members need to complete. 

As you can imagine, the role of a PM is a heavy one. Not for the faint of heart. Not for those who question their ability to lead.

Being a leader is like heading due north in a boat in the fog. Even though one cannot see where north is, you have to have a silent confidence of your ability to reach north and also be able to lead your project team.

This is probably why contestants on The Apprentice are hesitant about volunteering to be Project Manager of a task.

When I was promoted from intern to Project Manager on several marketing projects for the consulting firm I interned for back in college, I had the chance to experience this role. As a result, I was able to see the good, the bad, and the absolute ugly of working on a team.

Any bumps in the roads or setbacks that happen during the completion of the project are expected to handled by the PM. Photo: Res Excellence
Any bumps in the roads or setbacks that happen during the completion of the project are expected to handled by the PM. Photo: Res Excellence

Below I’ve written a few tips that I found helped me greatly to be able to lead my project team effectively towards the completion of a client’s project and achieving client objectives.

Don’t take on everything

Just because you are leading does not mean that you have to do every task. One of the ways to effectively complete tasks on time is to highlight the strengths of your project team and give them tasks accordingly. For instance, perhaps a client needs help with their branding. Perhaps one of your team members has a background or skills in graphic design and can design a website for your client.

Do keep a clear vision

One of the most important aspects of leading a team is knowing the ultimate goal of what your project team needs to accomplish. When the going gets tough and you’re tired, always keep the end goal in mind. The goal of pleasing your client and satisfying their objectives. A great way to implement this tip is at the very beginning of the project, make it a priority to speak with the client about their visions and goal for the project.

Don’t make friends

You’d be surprised at how quickly friendships fall apart when the going gets touch and hard work is abound. Yes, you can respect someone. But always keep a professional distance from your project team. You never know when you need to replace this team member due to creative differences or lack of productivity on their part.

Do communicate

Communication is KEY when keeping everyone on the same page. Whether it’s through emails, Skype, or team meetings, reminding your project team of tasks that still need completing is so important for meeting deadlines and keeping your team organized.

Don’t let doubt show

One of the burdens, yet rewarding aspects of being a PM is that you are responsible for the pace and spirit of the team. Even when you are frustrated over setbacks in tasks, you can’t let this show. Your project team is looking to you for inspiration. Keep your head up and be a pillar of strength for your team in the face of difficulties.

Cover Image: News Blog


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Business Leader, Philanthropist

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