7 Must Have Skills of a Successful Project Manager
Task management is not a walk in the park. It’s a combination of several jobs that include initiation, planning, executing, controlling, and finally closing of a project.
It even gets harder because you have to work with a selected team within a limited time and budget to achieve specific goals.
You have to do this successfully. That is why the professional project managers use project management software to ensure everything stays organized in the process.
However, even with the tool, it is still hard to lead people to accomplish the results you desire. You will require some skills to talk to the team members and maintain a good relationship with them regardless of the pressure.
If you are still facing trouble regardless of the multiple project management guides, you are in the right place.
We have combined top manager skills that are essential for every project manager.
One of the essential tools in project management is leadership. As a leader, you have to manage your team, set the vision, coach them, motivate, and inspire them.
As a project manager, you have to operate from the point of a strategic and operational point – where you communicate the vision and win over your team to your plan.
It’s also your duty to see that your team has all the necessary tools, space, money, etc. that they may require to accomplish the goals. You also have to find team building activities to ensure they stick together.
As much as taking care of your team and giving them positive vibes is your job; you still have to keep in mind that you are the leader. This means that you have to see that you ensure everything is in place.
At the end of the day, the results of your project reflect on you. Even when everything is on board, go a step ahead (as much as it may seem like too much to ask) to ensure the whole project is a success.
If you find things slipping out, don’t be disappointed, try research, and read about leadership skills.
Although people believe that leaders are born leaders, there is still so much to learn about managing others to see that they remain productive.
Main Tip: Key project management leadership skill is to ensure you are not only managing but leading. Provide a vision and a road map to get the desired results and empower your team to get there.
With all project manager skills, it is still impossible to run a project smoothly without good communication.
No relationship thrives well with a poor communication system. Good communication entails keeping all the involved members posted on the progress of the project and most importantly ensuring they understand.
No client ever gets bored with too many updates from the project managers. The more they are alerted on every touch point, the more solid the relationship becomes.
When you are constantly communicating with your team, shareholders, and clients, you stay aligned to the course of the project, which increases the chances of success.
Always keep in mind that communication is only effective if all the parties involved understand everything. Frequent communication sees that everyone is on the same page, making sure there are no awkward conversations in the future.
For the clients, it is vital that you keep informing them about the visions and goals, clear project presentations, and reports to avoid surprises.
Most employees don’t do what they are supposed to do because project managers are not clear on what they need to do, why they should do it, how they should do it and when they did it. Communication is a dialogue, not a one-way thing.
For effective communication, aim at understanding all your team members and come up with a communication system that fits all personalities.
Collaboration tools may help with the flow of information.
Main Tip: Key project management communication skill is the ability to listen, explain, and be understood. When all the information flows at the right time, to the right person, via the right channel, there is nothing a team cannot accomplish.
3. Planning Skills
What is a project manager without great planning skills? Unfortunately, many managers do not pay attention to this while they must see that everything is in order. It is also vital that you follow and monitor the proceedings of the project to be able to correct anything in advance before it gets worse.
Proper planning includes having all detailed information about the project, starting from the minor information. There is a large scale planning that involves time estimation, statements of work, resource plans, and meeting plans that you have to get right.
Planning simply means putting down into writing how everything is going to be executed for project success. Note without a good planning method even the greatest ideas can’t be brought to reality.
Major Tip: Project planning means always being ten steps ahead and always being able to answer the question, “what next?” This is for both success and failures. Whatever happens, a great project manager always has a plan on how to handle it best.
4. Time Management
If you waste any time, you cannot recover it, and yet it is the most vital resource of the project. Besides managing the time of the team, you also need to manage your time as an individual.
The biggest issue is always differentiating between the important things and the urgent things. Most of the time is trapped in doing urgent things, leaving little time for the important stuff.
Meetings are the biggest thieves in many companies; some are those that go past the set time while others are unnecessary. As a project manager, you have to think critically to know when to stop a meeting or not have one. One thing that helps in saving time is having an agenda of every meeting and strictly sticking to it.
A great project manager also respects the time of his teammates and knows how to read their body language and let them go if they show signs of fatigue.
Lastly, always find opportunities for distributing duties among the members, multi-task and re-arrange the schedule if required.
Main Tip: The duty of a project manager is working to ensure that everything is on the right path. Avoid getting caught up in the goose chase and stick to the course of your project. Time management is your greatest asset as it helps in project scheduling.
5. Risk Management
When things go wrong, the project manager is the one who gets all the blame. People feel they could have seen it coming and prevented it. Project sponsors hate surprises so it would be in your best interest to learn how to manage risks.
Risk mitigation is an essential skill on its own that you need to learn and practise For every project, ask yourself what could go wrong and prepare for it. The plan on how to deal with shortcomings should be part of the major plan. For the right answers to this question, you must learn critical thinking.
A team manager knows the power of the untapped knowledge in the employees’ minds – so utilize that and ask them to point out any risks that they see in the future. Together, allocate funds and the course to take with the client if things go south.
The benefits of effective risk management are uncountable – starting with happy clients because you give them quality results.
It’s also about you because you are not caught up in stopping unnecessary fires which can really tear you down and lower your spirits.
Most importantly you have to have the ability to adapt and work in every dimension that the project takes you as well as manage the available resources. This ensures you get a successful completion whatever the case.
Main Tip: Risk management knowledge is key to quality management. The latter has to know all the risks and how they may affect a project. For success, identify the risks and plan on how to deal with them in advance.
6. Negotiation Skills
Negotiating is part of the life of a project manager and a crucial part of the skill sets – you will probably find yourself negotiating with several people. It might be with stakeholders on issues affecting the project that you may have to diplomatically pushback.
It might be with senior managers for more support, suppliers, or other project managers. It might be even a negotiation to resolve conflict between your firm and clients.
Your negotiation skill must allow you to negotiate and make deals without burning any bridges. Remember this is not like sales negotiations where you can leave when things don’t work out for you-you have to get a middle ground.
Your negotiation skills require that you take time to understand the interests of your clients to know what is required moving forward. Ignoring some of these relationships leads to a misunderstanding which may encourage failure.
When it comes to sensitive information such as timelines, resource allocation, and budgets, things can easily get messy if not handled with care. You have to find common ground for everyone without pushing others to a corner.
Main Tip: Every effective project manager must have great negotiation skills. Good negotiation skills help you come up with a middle ground for everyone so that everyone feels they have won.
7. Subject Matter Expertise
Even with all the above-discussed skills, not having the subject matter expertise can bring your project down.
With the high growth of technology, there is always something to learn making it among the top skills of project management professionals.
A project manager must come up with a feasible plan first and a plan on how to lead his/her team members on how to accomplish the goal.
To be effective, you need to understand about the work your employees are executing and the platforms they are using. This includes the limitations of the platforms so you can clearly explain to the suppliers, clients, and stakeholders.
Knowing how the whole process is being evaluated even though it’s not part of your duty is necessary. It allows you to know how much work should be put in to complete a project.
This means that you can quickly determine the length of time and amount of resources a project will need for completion. It also helps you know if there is any progress being made, which gives you confidence when facing the client as you have a concrete answer.
Take time to learn and get a deeper understanding – this will help in understanding the clients, employees, and stakeholders. In return, you get a successful project.
Main Tip: As a project manager, there is always a new thing to learn. See that you learn everything, including the technical part of the project. This will help you find ways to support your team and have effective communication with clients and stakeholders about the project.
Success in a project is a combination of several things. A project manager has to know how to manage the team members and at the same time, understand their struggles in the project.
A great project manager knows that the only way success can only be achieved when everyone feels like they are winning. The only defining tool of a project management competency is results.
Keeping your team happy and remaining productive is still part of your job. You, therefore, need to go out of your way to see that this happens.
Professional development as an individual will also help grow your management skills – try watching training videos on how to improve your technical skills regularly. You may consider online courses on the subject.
Incorporating the above-discussed tips will increase your chances of being successful with your project.
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