Being a project manager holds many responsibilities. And the only way to fulfill your role as a project manager is to have a certain skill set that enables you to constantly deliver a success project. In a previous article, we have discussed the Basic Principles of Project Management.

In this article, we will discuss the Must-have project management skills. These skills are critical in helping project managers stay on top of the job in today’s demanding business environment. With project managers constantly juggling from one task to another, moving from project to project, ensuring projects stay within budget and deadlines, the project manager has evolved to one of the most important roles in any business today.

If you’re planning to polish up your credentials and searching for the must-have skills of a project manager, below are six critical must-have skills of a project manager.

 

Skill#1 Organization

We should always leave our personal problems at home and away from the office. This is highly ideal but almost impossible for any employee. But we should also remember that project managers are not ordinary employees, they are considered as highly professional individuals, and much is expected of them.

 

Being organized is a critical skill for any project manager. And in order to be organized, they must be able to clear their minds from any distractions including those from their personal lives. Becoming an organized project manager starts with little things such as keeping your desk free from any clutter to having the right project management tools for each task. A highly organized project manager can increase the efficiency of all team members and ultimately improve productivity.

Project managers should be organized because project by nature have a start and completion date. And the only way to keep track of the project’s progress is to be able to organize each task based on specific time-frames.

Project managers are involved in almost every aspect of a project. This requires wearing several hats which include organizing meetings, analyzing reports, resolving conflicts, purchasing equipment and much more. To b able to function effectively in all these positions, a project manager must be on top of every situation by being organized.

Below are some tips on how to keep yourself Organized:

Follow a Template

Starting a new project doesn’t necessarily mean reinventing the whole process. Following a template from a similar project which has proven to be effective does not only make it easier but also ensures a higher rate of success. During the project, it is highly recommended that you document every process and specifically how you handled each problem. This way, you can improve the previous template and make it easier for other project managers to create better ones.

Create a Filing System

Even in today’s modern office, managing a project often includes tons of paperwork. But this does not only hold true for paper documents, electronic documents (excel, Word files) also need proper filing and storage for easy access and reference. Without a system, getting access to important documents can take hours which negatively affects your team’s efficiency.

There are several standards for organizing files and documents. But the most effective are those that you and your team can understand. To create a filing system, you can organize a meeting and discuss what type of filing system works best.

Using Project Management Software

The use of a project management software is no longer a luxury in today’s digital world. Project management software has become one of the most important weapons in a project manager’s arsenal.  Project management software was designed to make project management quick and easy. It incorporates many of the processes involved in project management.

Setting Expectations and Defining the Scope of the Project

Setting expectations at the onset of the project makes it easier for team members to understand how their responsibilities and what is expected from each of them. It helps you keep everything organized by letting you know what each member is doing. A well-defined project scope also makes it easier for you to identify the limits of the project. This is to help you avoid going beyond what is expected.

Skill#2 Effective Communicator

Miscommunication leads to misunderstandings which often results to conflicts between team members. Project managers must posses excellent written and oral communication skills. Wit project managers spending more than half of their time communicating with the team, it is important that they can convey their message effectively.

Project manager should also possess great interpersonal skills. They should be able to adjust their approach according to the person they are talking with. A project manager must know the difference between communicating with a team member and speaking with management. They should also be able to identify a person’s skill level and must adjust their instructions according to the person’s level of competency.

To ensure effective communication throughout the project, you should create a project management plan that answers how each member in the project should communicate. By doing this, you can ensure that all communications regardless of rank or profile is performed professionally.

Effective communication requires putting time and training for each member of the team. This might sound cumbersome but the benefits of a team that is able to communicate effectively far outweighs costs. Simple introductions and team building activities can help improve personal relationships between team members.

As a project manager, one important element to master is the ability to listen. Communication is a two-way street and to be able to effectively communicate, your listener must also be able to express their feedback. This is essential since only by listening can you confirm that your message was accurately received and verify that all orders are being followed correctly.

Skill#3 Strong Negotiator

Project managers must be able to work with different sets of people which can have different goals and interests. As a project manager you must be able to walk different lines and make a consensus. Negotiating is the art of making a compromise. However, this should not be done at the expense of the project’s success.

Project managers can find themselves in a difficult situation of negotiating with management for more support and resources. The next day, they might find themselves negotiating with the team to improve production by increasing work hours. Negotiation is not done only within the organization. This might also require you talking with third party suppliers or clients.

The key to becoming a strong negotiator is to find a common ground. As a project manager, you must be able to create a “win-win” situation where both parties are able to enjoy come out with a degree of success.

Strong negotiation skills require a high degree of understanding the relationships and interests of all stakeholders. This is to help you move forward with any project regardless of possible conflicts of interests. The inability to resolve conflicts within the project can be counterproductive and in the end lead to project failure. A successful project manager must be able to find a compromise where possible but must be able to hold a firm line when the success of the project is at stake.

Skill#4 Risk Management

All project no matter how simple come with its own inherent risks. The more complex the project, the higher the chance of failure. Risk management is another critical skill for any project manager. It starts with identifying all possible risks during the project’s planning phase to developing contingency plans in case of any failure.

 

Great risk management skill is what separates a good project manager from a great manager. There are so many possible things that can go wrong that even a sudden departure of team member can put a hold on the project. A great project manager is not only able to foresee such cases but also be able to provide solutions in a timely manner. in today’s fast-paced work atmosphere, even a few hours delay could translate to not being able to meet deadlines and production losses.

Effective risk management planning is a process. it starts with identifying all possible risks by doing an in-depth analysis during the project’s planning phase. During the project, a project manager must constantly analyze all reports to identify any shortfalls or and potential conflicts.

The next step after identifying a potential risk is to classify this risk. This is to make it easier for you to create a more tailored solution to the problem. An example is to categorize risks as something technical (possible equipment failure), logistics (shortage in raw materials), or personnel (sudden departure or a key personnel). After categorizing risks, we now go through the analyzing phase of risk management. Here we determine the likelihood of this risk occurring and its impact on the project in general. Risks considered to be high impact and highly probable are classified as a high priority.

The last phase of the risk management process is to create a response for each of these identified risks. This is done by planning a response from high priority to low priority risks.

Skill#5 Mentoring

Project managers must not only possess leadership skills but also have solid mentorship skills. They must be able to motivate teams and provide the necessary guidance when needed. Team members who are motivated and receive mentorship from project managers are more likely to be productive and take on more responsibility for their actions.

A project manager is only as good as their team and the contribution of each team member. To become an effective project manager, they must be able to motivate and imbue their members with the skills needed to successfully complete the project.

Project managers are in the best position to identify what the project requires to be successful. They are constantly in contact with management and stakeholders. To meet project expectations, they must be able to communicate project requirements to team members. This is even more critical when parts of the projects are outsourced to outside contractors. To give them a better understanding of project requirements, project managers must be able to provide coaching to get better results.

Skill#6 Technical Competency

Project managers should possess a high level of competency or at least have working knowledge of the critical tasks that each member performs. This is to enable them to provide better feedback and identify if a team member is performing their task correctly. A project manager working in an information technology project for example must at least have a background in I.T.

You don’t have to be an expert. You just have the right amount of working knowledge to at least understand what each team member is working on. A great way of overseeing the project is to assign or work with a team member. But the only way you could do this is you possess the skills to perform the task successfully. By doing this, you could provide more objective feedback.

Being a project manager also requires respect from each from each member of the team. Rather than just voicing out instructions, show team members that you understand the job requirements and how to get this done.

Skill#7 Leadership

Wondering why we haven’t mentioned leadership as a must-have project management skill? Leadership will always be synonymous to project management. A project manager should be able to set the vision, motivate the team, coach, inspire, and ensure the success of a project. Project managers must lead at the center of both strategic and operational perspective of a project. You must be able that all team members have the necessary tools and resources to complete their tasks.

Project managers are the glue that holds the team members and project together. They don’t only take pride in a project that is successfully delivered but also not afraid to take responsibility for any shortfalls. Leadership will always take front and center in any project management role.

If you would like to know more about project management, please check our courses below:

1. PMP course

2. Prince2 course