What Are The Key Skills A Project Manager Should Have?
Just because you’ve never studied to become a project manager doesn’t mean you’re not one.
In fact, an increasing number of team leaders everywhere are finding themselves filling the shoes of a project manager, even if that was never in the job description.
The truth is, every company has multiple projects going on at once. And if you want to make sure your team is doing everything in time, regardless of your industry, you’re going to need a few tricks (or skills) up your sleeve.
In this post, we’ll show you key project management skills you can use to make the next project a resounding success.
Let’s dive in!
What Are Project Management Skills?
Project management skills may sound like a mouthful, but the truth is – good project management skills are all those soft and hard skills that help you get a project done.
It’s the ability to talk a nervous coworker into pitching to the stakeholders because they know the most about the product. It’s the perfect argument that gives your team a deadline.
And it’s the vision to see that the solution your client wants is not the one they need.
Even if you never noticed it, these are the examples of project management skills – some of which you may already have:
A good project manager has to be a leader. They have to be respected by the people they work with, and that respect can only come from leading by example.
You’ll notice examples of leadership in your day-to-day in things like:
- Assigning and delegating tasks and responsibilities in your team
- Mediating conflicts
- Taking responsibility for results
- Motivating your team
Leadership is a project management skill that’s hard to put a pin on.
It’s a combination of everything that makes people respect and trust you, and it’s built through actions rather than courses and seminars.
And collaborative leadership means you bring everybody along on your journey by inspiring them to work towards the end goal.
Ultimately, it’s the X factor that leads to project completion.
Communication is definitely the key to success.
As a part of the project management skill set, communication helps in making sure that everyone knows what they should be working on, and what needs to be done.
But in addition to speaking and explaining the tasks, being a good communicator also means listening.
To clients, when they’re being unreasonable. And to your team when they need your help, when they have something bad to say, and when things are going perfectly.
As a project manager, you have to be able to communicate effectively as it’ll help you get the project done in time, as well as provide feedback and praise to motivate your team.
3. Risk Management
Risk management sounds kind of dangerous but in reality, you’re managing risks all the time.
Whenever you or your team do anything, you’re actually managing risks and weighing between pros and cons to make the best decision for the project at hand.
Risk management as a part of the project management skills means managing resources. And as we know with budget constraints, there’s never enough resources.
However, a project manager should be able to make the right financial projections and make the magic happen. AKA they should be able to get the project done even if the resources aren’t perfect.
In addition to making magic with limited resources, risk management also means identifying the risks in the first place, evaluating them and prioritizing them to get the project done with minimal costs and maximum effects.
For example, if you’re in the IT industry, you often get clients who come with a simple: “I want an application like Tinder.” Whenever you identify that as poorly defined scope that doesn’t give you many details to go on – congratulations!
You’re managing risks.
4. Scheduling and Task Management
One of the key project management skills is scheduling and consequently, task management.
A project can seem huge unless it’s broken into tasks that show who’s going to do what, and by what time.
And that’s exactly what task management is!
If you find yourself managing a project, you instinctively know that you have to break it into tasks, delegate, prioritize, and make sure everything’s going according to plan with project management tracking.
And as the due date approaches, you know exactly who’s doing what and whether you’re going to make it in time. If not, you know how to manage risks and communicate so extending the deadline is no problem. 😉
5. Critical Thinking and Quality Management
Project management often requires you as the leader to play the devil’s advocate or find holes in absolutely every theory. It’s just another day on the job.
In fact, critical thinking (which isn’t just criticism) is vital to project management.
It helps you and your team understand the causes and the consequences of every decision you make.
And ultimately, it’s what shows you what the priorities are.
All good managers have one thing in common: they know people are the key to project completion.
Coaching comes in all sorts of shapes, and it mostly means motivating your employees through methods like:
- Talking one-on-one about problems, ambitions, etc.
- Moderating a team discussion
- Identifying and achieving goals
It’s actually very beneficial: leadership coaching has a 5.7x return on investment!
And sometimes it’s as simple as approaching your team member and asking: “Is everything okay?”
7. Technological Proficiency
Finally, a project manager in the 21st century has to be proficient at using technology. It makes getting tasks done and tracking projects so much easier.
Most of the time you don’t even need fancy tools made specifically for project managers.
If you’re using Office 365 at work, all you need are a few Project Central integrations to make things even clearer.
For example, you can:
- Track priorities
- Delegate tasks
- Monitor the status of the project and tasks
And it’s all simple and visual. After all, beauty may not be a project management skill, but it’s a perk you’ll love in a tool!
Try Project Central and make the most out of Office 365