When I first started working at a digital marketing agency and wanted to refine my project management skills, I found marginally helpful articles that outlined the basics of technical project management; certifications in Agile, Waterfall, Scrum and/or PMP all seemed necessary for success in that role. I was discouraged and had no idea how I was going to be successful without a single certification, let alone all of them.
As I dug in and began interacting with my clients, the developers and other stakeholders, I began to understand that project management had little to do with certifications, website design, development, or the technical coding that I didn’t fully understand. Being a great project manager is all about delighting the client. My background in customer service has been the singularly most useful asset I have brought to the table followed closely by my organization skills. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard clients complain about their past agencies. The one thing they have in common is how they felt like they weren’t valuable or that their project isn’t being understood. The project manager didn’t take the time to get to know the client and/or their business, to find common ground or to remember the small, sometimes personal details about the client and/or their business.
When your client knows they can count on you to be an advocate for them and their project, it helps open the door to honest, two-way communication, facilitating tough conversations. According to Maya Angelou “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” When you truly care about the outcome of a project, it resonates.
Your goal as a project manager should be to delight your clients. This doesn’t mean being a doormat or working 80 hour weeks to fulfill unrealistic expectations. What this means is that you strive to ensure your client knows they are valued, that you’re thorough and transparent in your communication, and you’re always focused on helping them make well-informed decisions about their project.