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What It Takes to Be a Good Project Manager > Project Manager Skills - Pg. 9

What It Takes to Be a Good Project Manager 9 When project goals are not clear, it is difficult (if not impossible) to efficiently plan the project. The lack of planning contributes directly to unrealistic resource allocations and schedules. People as- signed to the project are unlikely, therefore, to energetically commit to the endeavor. The lack of commitment (and poor motivation) among project personnel was reported as emerging more from the problems already mentioned than to issues associated with the project's technology or organi- zational structure (e.g., matrix form). The communication breakdowns (problems), which occur during the life of a project, were often referred to as "inevitable." These breakdowns occur as a result of the ambiguity surrounding the project but also result from difficulties in coordinating and integrating diverse perspectives and per- sonalities. The project manager's challenge is to handle communication breakdowns as they arise rather than being able to predict (and control) communication problems before they happen. How the problems confronting project managers were interrelated is exemplified by how frequently problems of communication and dealing with conflicts were linked by respondents. The linkage between these two issues was demonstrated in statements like: "My problem is being able to ef- fectively communicate with people when we disagree over priorities," and, "Conflicts between de- partments end up as major communication hassles." Conflicts between departments were also linked to earlier problems of poor goal setting and planning. Managing changes (e.g., in goals, specifications, resources, and so on) contributed substantially to project management headaches. This was often mentioned as "Murphy's Law," highlighting the context or environment in which project management occurs. Planning cannot accurately account for future possibilities (or better yet, unknowns). Interestingly, less than one in ten project managers mentioned directly a "technological" factor or variable as significantly causing them problems in managing a project.