Project Management: Putting Core Beliefs into Practice (Part 2)

Norb Slowikowski / September 2015

In Part 1 of our project management article series, we delved into an overview of what every project manager needs in order to be effective in his job, along with clearly defined skills requirements to get there.

In this section, we will expand on your role as a project manager by clarifying the core beliefs a PM must have for ultimate success. Understanding these beliefs is essential for taking the next step in becoming a truly effective PM.

Striving for perfection. Although perfection is technically unattainable, it’s in the “striving” for continuous improvement that we ensure the avoidance of complacency. No matter where you are, you’re not there yet—so keep refining and improving.

Painstaking attention to detail. This is what quality is all about: doing it right the first time, with no need for re-work. This requires understanding the quality specs for the job and aligning those specs with customer requirements. Be very clear about what it takes to achieve quality results.

Persistent work. Every day is a new day to do your best work and meet or exceed customer expectations. This outlook requires a high level of energy and enthusiasm, day in and day out. Embrace an attitude of persistence and stay attuned to what’s important, even (or especially) when it’s difficult.

Do your best work every day. This all begins with changing the way you think. You have to have the “want to” to do your best work every day and fight off negative attitudes and behavior. When you remain positive, you can perform at your best while creating an atmosphere where people will “want to” follow.

Work smarter, not harder. This requires a high amount of competence in your job. You need the necessary knowledge and skills to work efficiently while also remaining open to new ideas from others. If it’s a good idea, incorporate it into your work style to make your job go more smoothly. So, encourage feedback and implement ideas whenever they make sense.

Embrace change. Instead of looking at change as a “necessary evil,” look upon change as an innovation process that requires you to come up with new ideas that lead to a more effective way of doing business. Become a “change agent” who looks upon new situations as just another opportunity for continuous improvement.

Maintain a strong customer focus. Customers should be looked at as the drivers of the relationship. Identify their needs and establish a partnership based on those needs. Remember that customers are both internal and external. Internal customers work within the company, and their needs must be met so you can then go about building a strong relationship with external customers. This is the road to repeat business.

Outside of those seven core beliefs, there is also a general way of conducting business that everyone should incorporate and practice: Display honesty and integrity by telling the truth and doing what you say you will do. Be careful what you promise because you can’t take it back once it’s out there. Once you have made a promise, do everything you can to follow through on that. Avoid making excuses and blaming others if something goes wrong. Instead, fix the problem and move on to the next challenge. This approach displays real-world leadership that will inspire those around you to act with integrity in their own work.

Once integrity and follow-through is taken into account, do it better than anybody else. Look upon mistakes as learning opportunities. In other words, be a coach, not a critic. Coaching and training your people will always get you further than criticism. Invest in people, and they will invest in you.

Typically, the right core beliefs are transferred to positive behavior and performance, so choose your beliefs wisely. But it’s not enough to just believe in something; you need to demonstrate your beliefs through action. This will show everyone around you that you “practice what you preach.”

In the next article we will focus on clarifying expectations for the project manager.

Norb Slowikowski is president of Slowikowski & Associates, Inc., Darien, Ill.