The 6 critical characteristics of a great translation project manager

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Many aspects go into a quality translation program, from dedicated linguists to assisting software. But one of the most valuable parts of an effective translation program is to have a great translation project manager.  After all, they’re the ones managing almost every aspect of your translation process.

When we begin work with a client we’re often asked about our project managers, and their abilities, strengths and weakness. And if we’re not, we’re often surprised – because we consider them as one of the most important contributors of a client’s satisfaction.

Having several years of experience being both a project manager and manager of the likes, I garnered a list of critical characteristics that I think every project manager of translations needs to have to really go above and beyond.

Exceptional Multitasker – It’s no secret that a translation project manager’s day is filled with multiple tasks. Assisting linguists, developing processes and managing multiple projects in multiple languages are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to daily activities. Being able to effectively multitask and manage multiple components of a project at once is critical to not only the success of each project, but to the sanity of the project manager.

Effective communicator –It is without a doubt that project timelines and translation deliverables depend upon the clarity and timeliness of communications. Being a translation project manager means having effective communication abilities to both understand the client and lead a positive performance from their team.

Problem solver – Like most things in life, challenges can arise. During translations, it is how a project manager approaches them and the way that they are resolved that grows strong business relationships. In short, great translation project managers make solutions rather than excuses.  Even if there is a long, arduous project in front them, thinking outside-the-box and making solutions for the barriers results in a better outcome for all involved.

Positive –Facing demands from both clients and coworkers can be stressful. An average translation project manager may crack under pressure, but a project manager with a positive attitude can lead through difficult times. Not to forget that having a positive outlook and being easy to talk with makes most business conversations a lot more bearable.

Organized – Translation project managers are often faced with many different aspects of a project at once, such as budgeting, timeline development, editing, etc… In order to successfully implement all parts of a process, a project manager needs to be organized. And well organized, at that. Any missteps or displacements could mean timeline delays  and frustrated clients. A great project manager will find an ordered structure that works and will stick to it.

Flexible – In the world of translations, there’s no black and white. Between juggling office hours, meeting customer demands and assisting team members, a translation project manager has a lot to manage. From leveraging technical solutions to implementing process changes, being flexible and willing to make adjustments really speaks to the needs of clients and shows the project manager values their line of work.

Whether looking for the perfect project manager or looking to be one yourself, keep these six critical characteristics in mind. I know they keep our team going.

What do you think?

Do you agree with these translation project manager characteristics?

Let us know below!

For more tips on being a translation project manager, check out these resources:

Lesson 20: So you want to be a project manager, by Marta Stelmaszak.

Top 10 characteristics of a great project manager, by David C. Baker

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