To succeed in performing any job, you will need a repository of skills. For instance, a teacher would need outstanding mentorship and communication skills to guide the students. Similarly, an advocate would require expert negotiation skills as well as problem-solving skills to win cases.
Likewise, in project-centric businesses, professionals must possess specific competencies. The project management field is booming, and with technological advancements, the need for crucial skills has sky-rocketed. According to a joint survey by IPMA, KPMG, and AIPM,
“74% of respondents noted that the significance of project management skills would continue to increase in future.”
This blog explains all the necessary skills that every project management professional must have. Besides, it will also describe the ways to develop that skill set.
1. Crucial project management skills you should have
Here is a rundown of the essential skills and qualities that every project management professional should have:
A. Leadership Skills
This is one of the essential skills that any manager must have. As leadership expert John Maxwell rightfully said,
“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.”
A leader takes the initiative, mentors the team members, actively participates in the projects, stands up for his people, and leads by example. While leading a project, you must understand that it requires both project management skills and emotional intelligence.
With strong leadership skills, you can effectively steer the project towards successful delivery. Besides, it also helps foster a productive work environment. When team members witness an active leader, they get more engaged in the project and, thus, perform better.
B. People Management
When managers don’t take their team members seriously, it leads to top performers leaving the company, unplanned absences, etc. In addition, their productivity declines as employees don’t feel motivated to work. Ultimately, it results in project overruns and client dissatisfaction.
Having people management skills will help you ensure that the team reaches its maximum potential. Moreover, you can offer support and reduce stress in times of change, disruption, or uncertainty. For instance, with these skills, you can monitor the performance of the employees and reward those who are performing well. Besides, you can even nurture your employees’ skills and help them grow through training programs.
C. Time Management
Time management is a skill that everybody must possess. For instance, you are doing a task that needs to be completed in one hour. Based on that, you will have to perform your activities in a way that you do not exceed the time limit. So, that requires you to have adequate time management skills.
Similarly, in project-centric businesses as well, time management is crucial. Every project has specific tasks, and all these tasks have different time frames. Therefore, a manager must know how to consistently manage a complex timeline and help the team members stay on that schedule. Firstly, he/she should create a WBS, identify the critical path tasks, and request those crucial resources. Since the project’s duration will depend on the time of the essential tasks. Following that, he/she can identify the slack tasks, and determine those resource requirements.
D. Resource Management
Resources are one of the significant factors behind the success of your projects. These resources may be human labor, equipment, tools, machinery, etc. As the manager, the onus is on you to understand the resource requirements and, once allocated, managing them efficiently from the start of the project to its closure. It is the project manager’s responsibility to do resource planning for the concerned assignment and fulfill the requirements from the resource manager.
Efficient project resource management skills will help you schedule the right resources for the right tasks. In addition, project managers must identify team members getting rolled off during ramp-down activities beforehand and inform the concerned resource manager who can look for suitable opportunities before they hit the bench. Moreover, project managers also ensure optimum utilization of all team members so that no one is over/underwhelmed.
E. Risk Management
No matter how simple or small your project is, risks are inevitable. For example, a task that seemed easy may get delayed because a resource is on leave. Or a sudden change in the scope can also lead to the project getting derailed.
As a manager, you must have proper risk management skills to mitigate any potential risks. You should be able to identify, assess, calculate the impact, and control any risk that threatens the success of the projects. Most importantly, you have to create an effective risk mitigation plan to list all the risks and have counter solutions for them. Therefore, these skills will help you keep the project safe from any threats and ensure timely project delivery.
F. Negotiation Skills
An effective manager has to be a diplomatic negotiator. From managing resources to engaging suppliers, from setting the budget to dealing with team conflict, leading a project means constantly being involved in negotiations. Mastery in persuasive techniques will come in handy while negotiating with the stakeholders and create a win-win situation for both parties.
Moreover, depending on the severity of the scenario, managers may have to choose different negotiation styles. But, in addition to selecting the style, you should know how to navigate these negotiation tactics effectively.
G. Communication Skills
This is another soft skill that goes ‘hand in hand’ with effective leadership and expert negotiations. As a manager, you should be able to convey your thoughts to your members and the stakeholders to keep them on the same page. With proper communication tactics, you can make everyone understand the goals and objectives of the project and avoid any unnecessary conflicts.
Poor communication may lead to decreased productivity, unclear expectations, missed deadlines, etc. According to a recent survey, 28% of employees reported poor communication as the cause behind project failure. Therefore, to eliminate the chances of that, managers must communicate effectively. They should know how to approach people, create rapport with co-workers, and clarify the project’s vision.
H. Technical Prowess
Project management demands an amalgamation of skills, techniques, and appropriate tools. Therefore, adroitness in identifying and evaluating the right project management tools as per your requirements is crucial. Moreover, with the help of subject matter expertise, you can communicate more effectively with the teams and deliver the project successfully.
Besides, a practical understanding of these programs can have a positive impact on your work. These tools will assist you in project planning, scheduling, resource management, budget planning, and so on. Therefore, you must embrace the evolving technology for successful project completion.
I. Strategic Thinking
Effective planning is a prerequisite of every successful project. And for that, a manager must be able to think strategically. Creating a project plan is not easy; the manager has to organize and prioritize tasks, identify the deliverables, etc. Besides, he/she has to align the project with the organizational goals.
With strategic thinking skills, a manager can be proactive and make decisions based on data. Simply put, these skills will assist you in selecting and prioritizing the projects. Moreover, it will also help in scheduling resources for the tasks and increase revenue.
J. Stakeholder Management
Stakeholders are the primary decision-makers in every project. They have a say on the project deliverables, resources, plans, and every other aspect of the project. Thus, as managers, one must understand their expectations and align them with project goals.
With expert stakeholder management skills, you can identify the key stakeholders, analyze their expectations and influences, and develop appropriate strategies to work with them. Moreover, you will be able to manage conflicting interests and keep them involved in the project decisions.
2. How to Develop these Project Management Skills?
Here is a detailed description of how you can develop and nurture your project management skills:
A. Gain experience in the field
“Practice makes a man perfect.” Like every other job, the more experience you gain in project management, the better your skills will be. You can take up small projects and plan and schedule the processes for that. You may even take advice from SMEs, team members, or senior project managers. The key is to learn from that experience and follow that procedure in future projects.
In addition to hands-on experience, studying previous projects can also help in gaining the required experience. For example, you may read up blogs, go through publications, etc., and garner knowledge in the field.
B. Attain certifications and degrees
Another way to refine your project management skills is by earning certifications or degrees. For instance, the PMP certification provided by PMI is one of the most popular project management certifications in the world.
These accolades will provide you with the knowledge and technical expertise needed to succeed in the business. Besides, you may even earn a Bachelor’s or a Master’s degree in project management. Various institutes around the world have these courses.
C. Actively participate in Project Management Events
Attending and actively participating in project management events can help hone up your skills. Various senior managers and project management professionals attend these events. By participating in such programs, you can connect with experts in the field and learn a thing or two from them.
Most management institutes even conduct local project management chapters and podcasts. Therefore, you may register and join these online events. There, you can ask questions to the senior managers and executives and learn from their experiences. In addition, these events will allow you to learn best practices and stay abreast of the latest project management trends.
D. Evaluate your progress during the project
After completing the first two to three small projects, it will be good to evaluate your progress. That way, you can identify your strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, you can get an idea of what you did wrong and how you can rectify it.
But, to assess your progress, you have to document every step. Following that, you can examine your processes and look for ways to develop your decision-making and critical thinking skills. You may even take feedback from the team members or senior managers and improve your competencies.
A project manager carries out multiple responsibilities at once, and sometimes, it may get a little overwhelming. However, with the right approach and an enhanced set of skills, one can succeed in the project management field. The key is to remain updated with the latest trends and develop the competencies mentioned above.
What project management skills have you refined?
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