What Goes on in the Mind of a Project Manager? and 10 Mindset Tips for Project Managers

Have you ever stopped to think about the common characteristics you have with other Project Managers? In order to explain these to an audience of non-project managers, I generated a user persona to explain the goals, motivations, mindsets, and pain points of Project Managers.

The persona I generated is based off of interviews Aurora Melchor, a UX Designer, conducted with her team as well as additional data points that I added from my circle of colleagues.

GOALS: Keep everyone happy; Deliver value and project success; Predictability

MOTIVATIONS: Wants interesting, fun, and challenging work; Recognition and promotion

MINDSET: Likes problem-solving; Feels the urgency to “get stuff done”; Driven by accomplishment; Often does well “riding the wave” of change

PAIN POINTS: “My day is a fractured experience!”; Inadequate planning and poor estimates; Manual repetitive work across multiple applications; Having to do more with less; Risk, complexity, and uncertainty has increased (VUCA)

Business Managers


To create this success orientated mindset there are a number of tips and strategies that Project Managers can look to adopt.

1 — Spend Time To Understand Your Own Management Style

As a manager, it is important that you take the time to understand your own management style. It is only when you have a deep understanding of your managing skills that you will become a better manager. One way to understand your management style is to assess your strengths and weaknesses as a manager. Sit down and write a list of each.

Under your strengths for instance, you may note down that you are an empathetic leader. You could also be a friendly person that people aren’t afraid to approach. Or it could be that you are motivational, and that you inspire people to get things done. Under weaknesses, you may note that you are impatient, or that you tend to lose your temper rather too easily. Or perhaps you push people too far without any consideration for other aspects of their lives.

If you feel that you need help assessing your management style, you could seek the opinion of those under you. Their candid opinions can go a long way in helping you understand what your style is, and where you need to improve as a manager.

2 — Create A Mindset That Is Open To Change And New Ideas

As a manager, being narrow-minded could be your worst mistake. Understand that things don’t always have to go your and often the competition you have to worry about is not operating in the same way businesses did 10 or 20 years ago. Encourage your team to come up with new ideas of doing things. Let them find creative solutions to existing challenges. And when they do make their suggestions, be open to implementing them.

The danger of being narrow-minded is that you may miss out on great ideas that could go a long way in helping you attain your goals. Even though some ideas may appear unconventional or outright absurd at first, listen to them anyway. They may be the solution you have been looking for all along.

3 — Don’t Waste Your Energy On The Small Stuff

As a manager, you hold the fate of your entire project in your hands. You simply can’t afford to be tied down with small, insignificant issues that have no major impact on your overall success or failure. The only way to learn what your right priorities should be is to look at what drives your business. If a task on your to- do list has no bearing on your business, simply cross it off your list and expend that energy on something more important.

4 — Trust And Empower Your Team

One costly mistake that many managers make is deceiving themselves into believing that they can do or oversee everything by themselves. This is the surest way to exhaust yourself and make yourself susceptible to a burn-out. You need to learn the art of delegation. Assign different responsibilities to your team, and then trust them to get the job done.

By all means try to avoid micro-managing your team. It makes them feel belittled not to mention that it could hinder their ability to give the job their best. Hawking over your team also diminishes their confidence greatly. Instead of micro-managing them, empower them and show confidence in their abilities. More often than not, they will feel obliged to make you proud.

5 — There Is Always A Way Forward

As you go about trying to complete a project, it is inevitable that you will encounter some challenges along the way. Sometimes, the challenges are problems you can easily solve; other times, they might appear to be insurmountable.

It is when you experience the most trying challenges that you will be tempted to give up. But as a leader, giving up must not be an option. Even when things seem like they can’t get any worse, you must remain hopeful. No matter how difficult things seem, it is important to remember that they will not remain that way forever. There is always a solution no matter how hopeless a situation might appear to be.

6 — Create Clear Priorities

On your way to achieving your goals there will be many distractions. It is exceedingly important that you set priorities both for yourself and your team. It is the only way you will remember to deal with the important stuff first and ignore the distractions.

Having clear priorities also makes it easier to turn down ad-hoc requests that can interrupt your work flow. If you have committed to completing a task within a given timeframe and another request for your time is made. Be polite but decline to be involved or offer another solution that allows you to tackle that issue at a later time or date.

7 — Maintain Open Channels of Communication

As the manager it is exceedingly important that you maintain clear communication channels with your team. Let them feel free to approach you whenever need be, and do not withhold any important information from them. Transparency and openness can go a long way in holding your team together and making it easier to accomplish your goals.

8 — Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help

Even if you are the leader of your team, it is okay not to have all the answers all the time. If you need help, do not hesitate to ask for it. Sometimes, your subordinates may have the answers you so desperately seek, and there is absolutely no shame in asking for a helping hand when you need it.

As a manager you may also fear seeking help from higher up the chain of command for fear of looking like you don’t have everything covered personally. This is a strategic mistake. Often that small issue continues to grow until management can’t help but step in. Now not only is the project behind schedule but you have to shoulder an even greater portion of the blame as you didn’t seek help when you needed it.

9 — Take Ownership And Responsibility For Your Team and Actions

Accountability is one of the hallmark characteristics of great leaders. A leader should own up to all the actions of their team, be they good or bad. If something wrong has happened because of you or a member of your team, it is wise to refrain from pointing fingers and laying blame. A much more effective strategy, and one that will endear you to your team, is to work on finding a solution to the issue you find yourself in.

10 — Remain Optimistic

As a leader, your entire team depends on you for guidance. Project managers who are optimistic tend to achieve their goals. Remember that perpetual optimism is a force multiplier. If you weigh down your team with constant pessimistic comments, they might even give up on ever accomplishing their goals. Keep their spirits up and they will never doubt their ability to attain any goals.