I’m in my second month here at Atomic, and I’m really starting to learn the ropes. Before joining the team, I worked for one of the largest liquidation companies in the U.S. There, I served as the client contact for questions on everything from thermostats to waffle makers.
Since I’ve had to communicate about so many different products and industries, jumping into the web design world wasn’t too much of a stretch. (I’m even starting to learn some code!)
My experience has taught me that no matter what type of project you’re trying to manage, the qualities that separate the so-so project managers from the truly awesome ones are the same. Here they are:
• Foresight. I don’t mean looking into a crystal ball—I’m talking about anticipating clients’ needs. That means doing research before your initial meeting to understand their industry, pulling design inspiration from similar sites, and suggesting ways to make their end product as great as possible—before they even have to ask.
• Leadership. This is an obvious one, but I can’t stress it enough. Research shows that we form first impressions in about 7 seconds. So make it clear from the start that you’re in charge. Projecting leadership puts clients at ease, and helps lay the foundation for a great relationship going forward.
• Organization. When you juggle as many projects as we do, you need a system. I maintain careful records of all client information in email, in folders on my computer, and in hard copy on my desk. That way, I’m never without the stuff I need.
• Communication. Being a PM is more than just making sure people meet their deadlines. I also serve as a kind of translator: explaining web developer jargon in plain English to clients, then conveying client requests back to our team. You’ve got to speak everyone’s language, and speak it well.
• Pragmatism. When you work with a team as creative as Atomic, ideas can occasionally get carried away. It’s my job to bring people back down to earth. That means keeping everyone focused on achieving milestones, meeting deadlines, and exceeding customers’ expectations.
• Empathy. Sometimes clients come to us unsure of exactly what they need. And that’s totally okay. Good PMs help clients understand their options—and don’t lose it when clients change their minds. That builds trust. And it makes communication easier when issues come up.
In fact, if I had to boil down these skills even further, I’d say they could be expressed in just two words: focus and trust. Cultivate these traits, and you’ll pull off projects with ease, whether you’re dealing with Beanie Babies, spy cameras, or golf clubs. (Trust me, I know.)
Need a web project taken off your hands? Leave it to Atomic to get the job done.