11 Fundamental Project Management Skills You Should Have
In this article, we'll cover:
Project manager jobs are complex–from initiation and planning to the completion of a project. They use robust project management tools to keep everything organized.
They also acquire a variety of skills like technical and business and management to get the job done. Today’s organizations are now looking for project managers who are fully qualified to lead their business initiatives.
But project managers don’t just deal with systems and processes. They also deal with people. So aside from the technical ones, there are also some leadership, as well as strategic and business management skills every project manager must possess.
The combination of skills employers value can be put in 3 categories:
- Strategic and business management
As a project manager, you need to be critical with every aspect of each project. This includes the budget, tasks, and the possible risks you might encounter throughout the implementation.
Knowing the extent of what you’re asking your team members to do is what makes a great project manager. To be successful in project management, you need to have the following technical skills.
Budget is one of the most important aspects of a project. You can’t move forward without money. Your first task as a project manager is to create a realistic budget and make sure to meet the financial needs of the project.
Cost control is a critical stage in project management. You also need to control the cost during the execution of the project. You want to meet your client’s expectations and that includes working without exceeding the planned budget. Delivering quality output on time and within budget is what makes you a successful and effective project manager.
Task management is the best way to make sure the project comes in on time and each team member takes responsibility for their deliverables. You must be able to create a task list to be delegated with your team members.
When all tasks are well-delegated and all team members are at work, the implementation and execution of a project will be smooth and you’re able to control any possible conflict easier.
Risk is always present, whether planning for a small or large project. And good risk management skills involve the ability to identify risk and come up with an effective mitigation plan before these issues turn into bigger problems.
Project managers work on complex and transformative projects that require proper risk management. Before executing a project, you have to identify, assess and control these risks.
An effective risk management is knowing what could go wrong and having the humility to ask inputs from your team members. The earlier you identify risk, the higher the chances of avoiding the risk occurrence.
Risk identification must be followed by a plan. This involves assessing the probability of occurrence, the possible cost and the creation of strategies fit for a certain risk.
As a project manager, being able to lead and manage your team is crucial. It’s important to inspire them and set the vision effectively to make sure you can execute the project well. Here are some leadership skills you should acquire before hopping on in a project.
Communication is the key to effective project management and works closely with leadership. You can’t be an effective leader if you can’t articulate what your team needs to do. You’ll need to have a clear communication with each team member to make sure they know what they need to do.
But you’re not just communicating with your team members. Project managers must also be able to communicate with clients, stakeholders, contractors and everyone associated with the project.
When you have so many people to manage, communication is key. You need to make sure everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals and objectives for the work to flow smoothly.
However, you also need to tailor your communication style to the right audience since you’re working with people of different levels and backgrounds. Communication should be consistent, but your communication style must be versatile.
Also, communication comes in different formats. You have to handle face-to-face communication along with emails, video conferences, and messages on different instant messaging platforms on a daily basis. With these, you have to be mindful of every information so you don’t miss any important bits.
The importance of communication in project management shouldn’t be ignored. Using a project management tool to help you centralize your communication across channels is a must.
Leadership is the foundation of effective project management. You have to learn how to handle your team well to make sure every project will be executed successfully. And to be a good leader, you must incorporate all the other important skills in your practices.
Project management is more than just managing tasks. Above all, it’s managing people. You can’t execute a project well without your team. As a project manager, it is your responsibility to oversee the project from start to finish and make sure you’re leading your team towards one goal.
You need to be able to communicate the project goals and objectives clearly, drive your team towards the work, and make necessary adjustments when you encounter a problem along the way.
Leadership comes in different styles. This might require you to motivate or inspire your team members, depending on how it will suit your personality. Whatever your style is, the most important thing is to accomplish each project successfully.
Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
Negotiation and conflict resolution are a must when it comes to project management. As a project manager, you must be able to negotiate so that all parties are satisfied and working towards a common goal.
A project manager with good negotiation skills is a team’s asset. They seek to resolve any conflict while making sure the team and the other party will both benefit with the situation. It’s also important to make sure you don’t get hot-headed or dismiss your team member’s opinion during the negotiation.
Sense of Humor
Having a great sense of humor is one of the most important skills a project manager should have. A sense of humor is about having a different perspective. When you have the ability to see the funny side of project management, you can radiate your team members some energy to keep going even when things get rough.
Humor relieves stress for you and your team. When your team is tension-free, you can do more and the work environment will be lighter. The mood you’ll establish within your team will help you get through difficult times.
Technology and project management tools are constantly changing and as a project manager, you should learn to cope with these changes.
Project management a few years ago when you’re just starting is different from today. Communication has moved from emails to instant messaging apps and different project management tools have emerged to make the work easier. To keep yourself in the loop, you must be able to adapt to these changes.
The best project managers aren’t afraid of changes because one of the most important aspects of project management is adaptability. This will allow you to be flexible in responding to the change of working practices.
Strategic and Business Management
Thinking strategically is key to effective project management. In this way, you can weigh the pros and cons and make better, informed decisions. Here are some strategic and business management skills you need to be an effective project manager.
Project management is a complex profession and requires in-depth analysis on how to execute a project successfully. As a project manager, it’s your responsibility to build your critical thinking skills so you can come up with a possible solution needed to complete a project.
Critical thinking is being as objective as you can in analyzing an issue or problem without being biased. You might face a lot of problems as you’re working towards a project and you only want to come up with the best decision for the project success.
Most of the time, project managers encounter conflicting ideas, mismatched facts and ineffective common reasoning. To help you improve your critical thinking skills, you must question all your assumptions, find logical reasoning and try to see things in a different point of view.
Being organized is an essential part of project management. To stay on top of your plans, you must keep everything related to the project organized.
This is a broad term that covers a lot of aspects–from planning out the project, to everyday tasks like personal time management that allows you to get your daily tasks done at the right time.
This is also about being able to multitask and organize priorities based on the organization’s strategic initiatives. In this way, you can distinguish which task you should do first to make sure you’re keeping track of the project’s goals and objectives.
Projects have specific start and end dates. So project managers should remain organized at all times. But you’re not just responsible for yourself. The whole team relies on you. To keep track of each task, you should have a shared calendar so your team can easily see their tasks and what should be done first.
This is important to make sure you don’t lose sight of any deadlines. It’s also useful when planning a meeting with less fuss since you can easily see if everyone’s available.
Product or Industry Specific Expertise
Strategic and business management skills involve the ability to see the high-level overview of the organization. In some cases, these may include developing and applying pertinent product and industry expertise in order to make the best decisions regarding the successful delivery of their projects.
The project management profession revolves around different industries. And each industry requires different knowledge and skills when looking for a project manager. Depending on the product or industry, you will need specific expertise before you can hop on in a project.
Take a look at the project manager job description for a construction company below. Note that in addition to project management and soft skills we mentioned above, having an industry-specific knowledge, in this case, an in depth understanding of concrete construction and construction methodologies, would make an excellent project manager.
All the skills mentioned above will add value to your career as a project manager in terms of marketability. Companies are looking for project managers who will fit in their industry. Once you’ve acquired more skills, you’re able to stand out from the crowd and be your prospect employer’s top choice.
Now that you have the list of skills a project manager should have, it’s time to set priorities on what you need to work on first. The best way to learn these project management skills is through your experiences.
Once you know the areas where you need improvements, you can now look for opportunities to enhance them. You can also take a project manager certification to boost your project management knowledge and skills.
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