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Projects are defined as being temporary. As a result, this means that unless more projects will follow, a project manager could be any employee with the necessary skillset who is selected to see the project to it's completion and then return to his or her previous duties.

The goal would be to organize the sales/service process, increase sales volume, and build enough volume to keep a 3 person team busy. The project would be a success if 3 sales associates are actively talking to 10 leads per week and are able to either self-manage without the project manager or are managed by a designated member of the 3 person team.

If you needed to select a project manager to take on the details of putting together a sales department and customer service department to sell a product you're developing and provide customer support for that product, how would you select this person? What specific criteria or skills would you look for in this person?

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    Pick the one that does not write the letters 'pmp' after her or his name. – bmargulies Apr 24 '11 at 21:17
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    @bmargulies - I don't think that will be a problem. I've not worked in a place where people are fond of putting letters at the end of their names. – jmort253 Apr 24 '11 at 21:52
  • are you looking for enough sales to keep a 3-person service team busy, or are you stating that the sales team will be 3 people and that you expect them to cover 10 leads (or 30 total leads) per week? – Eric Willeke Apr 24 '11 at 23:18
  • @Eric - I would consider that successful project completion criteria. Grow the sales team to the point where it's an autonomous, 3 person team with a leader or leader(s). Once established, the PM's project would be complete. – jmort253 Apr 25 '11 at 4:01
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There usually is one key and critical criterion that predicts success when hiring. Multiple criteria do not really add predictive powers, for some reason. I do not know why, but that seems to be a general consensus in the HR community. Since these are existing employees, you have the benefit of real observation of their performance versus relying on unreliable interviews.

If I were to choose that single criterion, it would be leadership. If you throw two or more people at a task, with or without assigning a legitimate leader, one of them will, likely, consistently exhibit control and the other(s) will follow. It is rather a natural by product of being human and, absent demonstrable PM competencies of one of the employees, I'd most likely rely on that as an indicator of future success for this project.

  • Following that advice, you would just make the most dominant employee the manager, not the most capable one. – blubb Apr 24 '11 at 16:35
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    The piece you walked over was the, 'others will follow.' Controlling, domineering people do not have others following, except through coercion, and even then it is not the type of following about which I am talking. The behavior may appear similar, but the perception of the team is quite different between the two, leading to two very different results. – David Espina Apr 24 '11 at 16:51
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    The type of leadership that emerges almost always naturally that I am talking about is like Belbin's leader role, or the shaper and coordinator. If you observe these three people in their work environment, it is very likely one of them assumes this role more often than not. Constrained to just choosing on of these three, I would choose that person. – David Espina Apr 24 '11 at 17:02
  • @Simon - I think the main difference is that with dominating people you won't see the others follow. Instead, you'll see the others resist. The leaders get the others to follow without necessarily having to fight with them. – jmort253 Apr 24 '11 at 18:11
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In general, when looking at a pool of staff you already know, good project managers will be people with the following qualities:

  • Attention to detail and organization
  • Good interpersonal skills, and well liked by the team
  • Some expertise in the area the project covers (Although he or she doesn't need to be an expert)
  • Skilled at documenting and communicating their ideas to others

That said, the problem you're trying to solve isn't something I normally would think of as a project. If there is a specific sales process you're trying to overhaul, that makes sense as a project, but if you you're just trying to increase sales and improve the way things are going, I think you're really looking for a Sales Manager or equivalent.

Trying to keep the number of active conversations high amongst your associates and ensuring that your initial processes get documented is a lot less about someone's ability to manage a lot of complex requirements (A PM) and more about someone who understands sales and can help get things moving.

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The best communicator.

Now the best communicator may also be your best leader and if they are, it is likely their communication skills that helped to make them a good leader.

Project Management is generally accepted as being 80% communication. Most hard core project managers will argue that this number is too low. My own experience has been there is virtually nothing I do that is not tied to communication in one way or another.

Good communicators often are also very good at interpersonal interactions. You need to be good with people to be a really effective communicator.

Best,

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