Whether you call them projects or not, all churches do projects and would benefit from having team members with strong project management skills. Launching a new service, renovating a church facility, installing new sound equipment, and planning an event are all projects. Having someone responsible for keeping track of all the tasks, facilitating team meetings, following up on action items, and monitoring progress can really make your life as a church leader less stressful.
Whether you decide to hire someone to manage all kinds of projects for your church or look for internal talent, here are five essential traits of a strong project manager:
Trait #1: Detail-oriented
A strong project manager isn't intimidated by a huge project. In fact, he's ready to dive in and create a project plan with 1,000-plus tasks without breaking a sweat. You need someone who can hear the big vision, ask questions to obtain the information he needs to move forward, and then dig in to make it happen.
Trait #2: Bias for action
A project manager is always looking to get the job done on time, on budget, while achieving the vision set forth. To make that happen, she must constantly be looking for what needs to be completed next (and by whom). They are relentless about following up on assigned tasks, escalates issues appropriately, offers researched solutions to problems that arise, and much more. He/She might get a reputation for being a bulldog, but they’re okay with that and everyone's pleased with the end result.
Trait #3: Strong interpersonal skills
Driving for results can make some people feel rushed or can come across as pushy. A project manager needs to keep things moving while still listening to team member's concerns, taking the pulse of the team, and keeping the schedule reasonable to not burn people out. It's a tough line to walk sometimes pushing people to meet deadlines or make decisions without alienating them. However, an experienced project manager can handle those delicate situations with confidence.
Trait #4: Organized
If you want to know the status of your new soundboard order, when the next team meeting is scheduled, and the address of your local lighting supply vendoryour project manager is your go-to source of information. He's got the schedule, budget, and vendor contacts list readily available. If he doesn't immediately know the answer, he at least knows who to contact. He's a bit obsessed with to-do lists (especially getting to check items off that list!) and may get out of sorts if you don't adhere to his electronic filing system. Humor him it's in your best interest.
Trait #5: Makes the complex sound simple
Have you ever sat in a meeting with a room full of accountants, IT specialists, or sound technicians and felt like they were speaking another language? While most project managers aren't experts in those areas either, they've likely worked around them enough to be able to interpret.
Strong project managers can also listen to a big vision, then quickly start breaking it down into manageable segments of effort. They can take a chaotic, technical, complex mess of tasks and put it into a one-page executive summary that provides an accurate picture of how the project is progressing and what has to happen next.
Project management isn't a term we hear often associated with ministry. However, a skilled project manager can help your team stay focused, organized, and on-track. They can save you time, money, and a lot of stress so it's certainly worth considering if you don't currently have a project manager on your team.