Traits of a Successful Project Manager: Part 1 – Communication

Being a successful project manager goes beyond learning what needs to be done to keep a project moving.  There are personality traits that match up well to this role or career choice.  What are these traits?  I asked the Beaconfire project and client managers what they felt was the most important trait of a successful project manager – Their responses were not only on target but also too expansive to fit into one blog post – so begins a series!


Sara Franco:  Flexibility of communication styles. A PM needs to communicate with the entire internal team, hosting companies, the client team, etc.  Each person has their own communication style, personality and skill set. It’s important that a PM adjusts their communication style to ensure everyone is on the same page– for instance, understand where a software developer is coming from and understand a designer’s perspective and bridge any gaps. Then condense the whole picture and discuss any questions or summaries with the client.

Lisa Kaneff:  Tuned into communication preferences, and makes accommodations as is feasible to communicate with teammates as they prefer to be communicated with. Sure, we can’t accommodate every one all the time, but if we know for a fact a certain person needs very clear, specific guidelines vs. someone who can take general direction and run with it that’s important. Or, if we know we need to send tickets for everything, vs. put everything in one ticket – also good to know. It’s also important to let them know how best to communicate, as well. Sometimes it’s important based on the project to check in as soon as a ticket is wrapped up – other times, a quick once a day check in works, too.   Communication is absolutely key so people don’t waste time and everything is as efficient as possible.

Russ Chettiar:  You don’t have to be an orator, but proactive and persistent communication (both written & oral) is key. And good public speaking skills are handy. Also, communication to convey urgency OR calm nerves, as required.

Jon Thompson: Ability to appropriately shelter or expose your team to issues that come up in a way that improves performance over time.  A good PM passes on the intel that helps the team, and finds different ways of packaging negative feedback in a way that focuses and uplifts team members to do better.  But in order to do that well, you have to know the personalities of the people on your team and customize what you pass along based upon what those individuals will respond best to.

Amanda O’Malley: PMs sometimes play the role of therapist to stressed team members – it may take a few extra minutes of your day, but listening to a person and letting them know you understand why they are stressed and offering help or just an ear for the venting may be all they need to refocus.  Building report with clients and having good communication skills is important.  The ability to recognize and adapt to different communication styles is useful as well.


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