While the title of “project manager” seems like it could be a walk in the park, it is a role that demands a high level of skill and a lot of responsibilities. You don’t have to be a scientist to know that you won’t become a successful project manager without the necessary skills. How do you acquire the correct skills, and how should you prioritize your time to become the best manager possible? What are the most important skills for a project manager? These are all questions that wannabe managers have pondered time and time again, and fortunately, we’re here to help shed some light on them. In no particular order, let’s look at the key project management skills that you will need to master if you want to be the best.
1. Forecasting and planning
To kick off our project management skills list, let’s discuss how the key to successful management is based on forecasting and planning. It can be a challenge, but you will need to make best-informed guesses all the time, especially as you work around resources and timelines. So, what is a project management forecast? Forecasting is an essential key in planning that helps you use any information you have two make estimates and predictions about the future. These should always be based on facts and data and never on hunches, opinions, or anything that can’t be measured. Anything that you learn can be used to help the project moves on and progress. These are crucial skills to have in the early stages of a project, but they can also help inform superiors of how projects can be improved in the future.
Only a small 2% of companies will successfully complete all of the projects they take on without going over budget. As a project manager, you will need to know how to work around financial constraints. If you step well over your budget, there could be repercussions for both you and your team. It can be difficult to get right, so get familiar with your industry and gather as much data as possible to inform your decisions.
3. Managing risk
If you want to know how to improve project management skills, learn about risk management. The project manager’s responsibility is to navigate around problems and anticipate risks before things go wrong. This will ensure that problems are less likely to come around throughout every task. Each project will have some element of risk to it, so know how to deal with it.
What are the project management skills and competencies? Many of them fall under the umbrella of methodologies such as Waterfall and Agile. There are so many unique and interesting ways of approaching project management – enough to write an entire article about! The most experienced manager will be familiar with the most applicable methodologies and will be able to pick the one that best fits their specific project and team members.
5. Monitoring and tracking
These are absolutely essential project management skills to have. Completing a project is one thing, but completing a successful project is another. You will need to know how to keep your fingers on the pulse, utilizing monitoring and tracking skills. If you do not, you are not able to support broad business goals and talk about how well the project went after it’s over. Companies will want to know what they can improve and how to do things better next time.
6. Facilitation of meetings
Typical projects have meetings, retrospectives and status updates. As the project manager, you will need to lead these meetings. It is important to know how to create an agenda, facilitate a discussion, follow up on certain action items and document notes.
7. Project management software
Various software allows you to coordinate all the elements of project management. It will be good to get acquainted with some of these project management hard skills. Experts in their field will make use of software to help streamline collaboration, communication, and iron out the creases in project plans. You should be getting tech-savvy and using whatever you can to make your life easier.
In a larger sense, what are project management skills? One thing’s for sure – the skills are highly transferable. A project manager can transfer their skills to work in any number of industries. Even though it is not completely necessary, it will help you stand out if you have a basic understanding of the industry you will be working in. By having a base level of expertise, you can accurately estimate timelines, costs, and resource requirements. Your coworkers will also look up to you more, thinking that you’re trying your best.
Project managers are team leaders, and your project manager skill set should include leadership skills. People need someone to trust, and you need to know that employees are on board, happy, and motivated throughout every phase of the project. As the leader, you will also need to equip people with the tools, time, and resources they need to handle their tasks. Leadership skills are project management soft skills that don’t go unnoticed. They help to build up your reputation in the company and help you come across as a professional.
So, just how important are communication skills in project management? If you’re thinking, “What are the skills of a project manager?” some might argue that communication is the most important skill of them all. Managers need to ensure that stakeholders and team members are fully informed about the project timeline, plan, and budget. Excellent verbal and written communication is required to update people on a project’s latest happenings. The best project management examples to learn from are most often related to good communication.
11. Time management
As you notice all the deadlines in place, you need to manage your time. Project managers will often be the main point of contact for numerous team members and appointments, so time management needs to extend to managing the time of the project’s key players too. Make sure everything runs like clockwork!
12. Problem solving
You can plan everything to a T, but you are human, and every human makes mistakes. When unexpected issues and problems crop up, a project manager must not be discouraged. You’ll need to elaborate on various resources and develop solutions to keep projects moving forward, even when there are numerous difficulties ahead.
Project managers are tasked to have a vision, rally team members, coordinate tasks, and ensure that everybody collaborates effectively. To do these things, project managers need to be skilled collaborators themselves. A key subskill in this category that is essential to collaboration to have in the arsenal is conflict resolution, as not everybody can handle it. Disagreements are inevitable, and you should know how to deal with them.
Tasks, deadlines, resources, and problems are a lot to deal with in one go. The best project managers are those who can keep on top of everything and stay organized. When you have all the moving pieces at your fingertips, the project will run smoothly.
15. Being adaptable
Planning is a must for every project, but every plan needs some element of adaptability. As things don’t go exactly the way you envision, you need to be adaptable. Adaptability is also key when something unanticipated occurs. The project manager will need to know how to roll with the punches and rebound quickly.
Developing project management skills
Now that you have good examples of project management skills, we hope that you can utilize them in the workplace. Fortunately, there is absolutely no shortage of resources to help you broaden your skills and increase your horizons. A number of options are available, from joining organizations such as the Association for Project Managers or taking courses with reputable bodies such as the Project Management Institute. Familiarize yourself with the project management skills we’ve mentioned, and rise to the top to become the best project manager you can be. Good luck!
In your opinion, what are some essential skills for an effective project manager? We’d love to know what you think. Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.