Jan is our project team lead, and because there are more and more projects coming, he is looking for new members of the eMan team. What are the seven basic skills of a good PM? And why is working at eMan intriguing?
Jan Kucera: “Common sense is the most important thing to have as a Project Manager.”
One and a half years ago you started as a Project Manager, and now you lead the whole PM Team. How did you end up here?
I had the best interview at eMan. We had an outstanding company culture at my previous employment, and the interview at eMan assured me that the same would be true here. And when I joined, it felt even better.
What tasks and responsibilities do you have in your current role? What does it take to be the Head of PMO?
You can imagine me as a supervisor. I check other people’s work, the work that I also once did as a PM. On one hand you have the actual hard control, making sure that everything is running smoothly. But on the other, I think that you can’t manage others simply by giving orders. I try to lead by example, and talk to my team as an equal. Not to make it a corporate issue.
Project management can seem quite straightforward, the goals are set and you either achieve them or not. But I believe that it’s not that simple, and that you have to find a middle ground. I always try to sit down with a person to see if an issue or error occurred during a project in order to identify it and figure out how to prevent it in the future, rather than just throwing blame around. It can be quite tedious sometimes, but it always works out one way or another. We just have to understand each other and find a common way.
I really don’t want PMs to just blindly follow some methodology. I believe that there are a lot of unnecessary issues in project management methodology. The PRINCE2 certification is nice to have, but we have no use for tons of unnecessary paperwork. We focus on what makes sense. It can serve as an inspiration, but you have to apply common sense and figure out what you can actually apply on any given project.
What are you looking for in the new PM?
- They have to know the theory and understand what can be applied on a given project. But the most important thing I’m looking for is common sense.
- And being proactive is also very important. When you send an email and no one replies, you have to deal with it and not just leave it be.
- They have to be open; if there’s an issue, it has to be tackled right away. Because there’s still a chance to figure it out. And the worse the issue is, the sooner it needs to be discussed.
- They need to follow and manage their team in great detail. To know when to push the team hard, and when to ease up on them. Human approach. No one can work under pressure indefinitely…
- They should not be afraid to escalate the issues. For example, if a client is not cooperating and the PM is afraid to tell the client that we won’t be able to deliver due to the fault of the client. We, of course, want to make our clients as happy as possible, but we also have to swiftly react to any issues and, if necessary, stop the work and figure out a better way to cooperate.
- Diligence is also one of the features that the PM must have, mainly for routine tasks that people over time stop paying attention to. That’s a basic mistake.
- They also must know their way in the IT world. To understand developers when talking to them, and know what is being discussed by their colleagues on the team. They don’t have to be able to read or write code, but they must understand the people who can.
Why do you think eMan is appealing to PMs? What’s in it for them?
They can really, really grow professionally here. I can honestly say that eMan is the leader on the Czech market. And quite a lot of things happen because of that… They can learn to manage large corporate clients because even the smallest projects we do are meant for big companies. They can learn to better navigate in the IT world, and to improve the cooperation with everyone involved.
We have in-house Solution Architects, Developers, a Quality Assurance team… Everything! They don’t have to backup anyone. The whole team of experts is at their disposal.
Moreover, we have a flat organizational structure. As a Project Manager, you are only two levels below the owner of the company. And you can discuss your project with them. The owners have positions in the company; they’re not an unknown entity to us. They live here with us and know the company inside out.
As a PM your fight is outside of eMan, not with us.
And you can always raise your voice and say if something is wrong, or if something bothers you. If you communicate, things change for the better.