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The Clear and Not-So-Clear Duties of a Project Manager

written by: RobinRaven • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 3/3/2011

A project manager wears many hats during the day. While some are standard and expected of any project manager, there are some duties that may come as a surprise to those on the outside looking in.

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    Miracle Worker

    Well, a project manager is not exactly expended to work miracles. She is, however, responsible for completing projects of the highest quality possible at a pre-assigned deadline using the restrictions set forth by the company, which are sometimes sizable. Sometimes multiple levels of achievement are expected. That is, the project manager is expected to reach a certain number of goals by project completion. A project is sometimes considered incomplete until all goals are achieved.

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    Creative Sparks

    A project manager is granted the responsibility and privilege of planning all aspects of a particular project. She must use creativity, business knowledge and developed insights to plan how a project can be realistically achieved. When reporting on a possible deadline, there are many factors to take into consideration, including a project's budget and expected staff. It's a thin line to walk because a project manager doesn't want to give a deadline that can't be met, and she doesn't want to give a deadline that's far away because the team will appear incapable.

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    People Person

    Despite the authority given to a project manager, it's still very much a job that involves hard work. The project managers is oftentimes involved in hiring the staff needed for project completion. She may be able to choose them out of employees already on hand, or she may start from scratch in her involvement. These are people that she'll need to trust to complete the task well and with speed. They are also people she needs to be able to have a good working relationship with in order for all workers to give their all to a project. It's a challenging task.

    Besides working with project workers, a project manager must set up, attend and run meetings on a regular basis. She also will vet vendors and decide who can further help the project along. She'll assign tasks among those working on the project, and sometimes she'll have to switch tasks among workers. While this can lead to friction, a project manager must finesse the situation so that all sides feel as though they achieve a win-win.

    People skills are a necessity for any project manager.

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    Policing the Project

    A project manager has to review the project on a consistent (sometimes daily) basis. She has to correct any errors along the way, and that sometimes involves having to set up meetings with those working on the project. She then has to set up a way of motivating the worker to change something or some way he's working on the project. This can sometimes require a project manager to know the employee well enough to know the type of employee he is and what motivates him toward achievement.

    Once the project is complete, the manager must complete a thorough review and correct any remaining errors herself.