Career Development

22 Essential Project Management Skills

April 2, 2021

Project management abilities allow a project manager to perform numerous tasks successfully and complete them within deadlines and the allocated budget. While these skills take time to develop, they directly affect the outcome of a project. In this article, we explore 22 essential project management skills.

What does a project manager do?

A project manager's duties involve planning, directing and organizing company projects from start to finish while ensuring the project is within the scope, budget and the allotted time. The day-to-day duties of a project manager vary from motivating team members and reporting on the project's status to management to deciding on a work plan and allocating resources for each task.

Project management skills

Below are 22 essential project management skills:

1. Leadership

Strong leadership skills are essential to seeing a successful project through to completion. This requires a project manager to focus on the tasks and motivate employees to ensure they work on project goals. Everyone has the potential to learn how to apply leadership techniques.

2. Communication

Successful project managers know how to effectively use communication to share ideas, give instructions and empower the team. They need to be directive, articulate and clear. While acronyms and industry jargon are common in team environments, project managers must use language that every team member understands.

3. Team management

Team management skills involve aligning everyone's individual goals with the greater company goals to complete a project. Great team management involves evaluating performance, mediating conflict, motivating the employees and delegating tasks effectively. Additionally, good team management skills enable a project manager to coach and improve the teams' skills over time.

4. Organization

Strong organizational skills are essential to smooth operation. Documentation, prioritizing, multitasking and breaking down complex projects into stages are all important aspects of organization skills.

5. Negotiation

Negotiation skills are vital for coming to agreeable terms with clients, suppliers and other stakeholders for project completion. Additionally, project managers constantly negotiate with team members to encourage them to focus on company goals. For example, a project manager can employ negotiation when there is a conflict between team members to find a solution that works for both parties.

6. Interpersonal skills

Collaboration, self-confidence and relationship management are all part of interpersonal skills. Collaboration helps team members work together towards common company goals. Self-confidence inspires confidence in the rest of the team, thereby improving performance. Relationship skills are important in nurturing healthy working relationships and connections with team members, clients and customers.

7. Risk management

Risks are inevitable in any business environment. If a project manager can anticipate and develop strategies to mitigate potential risks, the project will run smoothly. To maintain an efficient mitigation strategy, project managers need to ask their team hard questions while ensuring they are adhering to the project policies and deadlines. They must also be knowledgeable about risk management tools to create risk mitigation strategies.

8. Time management

Every project is subject to a timeline. For a business to achieve maximum profit, multiple projects need to be on the go and completed on time without compromising quality. Having strong time-management skills can ultimately help a project manager schedule tasks to meet all deadlines.

9. Cost control

The most important part of a project is controlling the cost. If a budget is not adhered to, the project might stall or stop for some time while the company finds alternative financial resources. Successful project managers have experience in creating a budget, following it and updating it when necessary throughout the project's lifecycle. Budget management skills help project managers identify where they can save costs and the appropriate measures to take in case of cost overrun. A project manager needs to run various cost spreadsheets to compare and decide on before beginning a project.

10. Technical writing

Technical writing in project management is required to create high-quality content by writing informative memos, reports and updates for clients and upper management. For example, a project manager may write a monthly progress report for a client, detailing the advancements made towards the development of new software.

11. Problem-solving

Successful project management requires critical thinking. A project manager must think about the pros and cons of a decision before formulating the best strategy to solve a problem. Problem-solving sometimes involves a structured way of approaching challenges that lead to a successful outcome.

12. Conflict management

Workplace conflicts are inevitable as team members have different attitudes, working styles, goals and expectations. A project manager requires conflict management skills to guide the workforce to achieve common goals. They need to address both internal and external setbacks and keep the team on track.

13. Research

A project manager uses research skills to become more knowledgeable on relevant information that helps complete the project on time and within the budget. Project managers may research ways they can increase output on the web. Alternatively, they may talk directly to customers to receive feedback on projects or closely follow competitors' activities to stay a step ahead.

14. Motivation

Project management sometimes involves complex tasks. A project manager needs to keep their team motivated at all times even when they are under pressure to meet deadlines. They can build a fun and positive working environment by implementing team-building activities or provide incentives to keep people motivated.

15. Prioritization

While most of a project manager's work involves communicating and supervising others, it is equally important that they know how to manage their own time. They should be able to assess and prioritize tasks constantly, according to their level of urgency. Additionally, project managers need to respect their teammates' time and ensure they're able to prioritize their own tasks as well.

16. Adaptability

Every project manager needs to adapt to changes during the project's lifecycle. Project details need to be adjusted as challenges and changes arise. A project manager needs to be ready to adapt quickly and keep the team on track under the most current circumstances as the project moves ahead.

17. Reporting and visualization skills

A project manager needs to gather information and report to the management when working on a project. Reporting and visualization skills are particularly important when a project is stalling or is facing difficulties. Additionally, reporting skills allow a project manager to convey important information to the team, management and other stakeholders. Visualizing the ultimate goals and project outcome provide a clear trajectory for the team to follow.

18. Project management methodologies

A good project manager is knowledgeable about methodologies that work best for them, For example, the popular method known as "Scrum." In this methodology, the team works in short cycles and meets daily to discuss tasks openly and complete them quickly. While there are numerous methodologies, project managers should find the ones that work best and apply them to improve team performance.

19. Good listening skills

Active listening is important for creating a positive relationship with clientele, connection with team members and managing stakeholders' expectations. Active listening also enables project managers to empathize and understand other people's perspectives which is important for team leadership.

20. Technologically savvy

A project manager needs to be knowledgeable about the latest technology to increase productivity and reduce codependency. For example, if the manager is tech-savvy, they can deal with emergencies immediately to restore the project's plan of action. Simple tech issues take longer to solve if the project manager needs to rely on external tech specialists.

21. Policy knowledge

Project managers should be well-versed in the subject matter to communicate instructions effectively to their team members. They should also be knowledgeable about safety policies, regulations, business policies and health and environmental regulations.

22. Strategic planning

A project manager uses strategic planning to determine setbacks, potential challenges and circumstances that can potentially reduce the project's workflow. They need to take an in-depth look at available resources and decide how to use them most effectively.

How to build project management skills

1. Be open to criticism: Be open and willing to receive constructive criticism from your team members and managers, then use it to improve your skills.

2. Find a mentor: create a development plan that highlights the skills and experience you want to improve and take it to someone who shares your values and principles. A mentor can help you identify opportunities and draw from their own experience to provide advice.

3. Master self-discipline: as a project manager, self-discipline will enable you to focus on a project and see it to successful completion. Define your expectations earlier on from the start of the project to know what to expect from your team and what your team should expect from you.


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