Project management is one of the most sought after qualities of the modern business environment. The constant increase in the salaries of project managers around the world is an indicator of their demand in the market.
Project managers are typically responsible for overseeing the entire project and performing the key tasks that can make the project successful. However, project managers are not the only ones charged with responsibility for projects. It has become a competitive market where you need to expand your skill set continuously and in all spheres.
Apart from the obvious requirement of relevant technical knowledge, managers are expected to have a combination of business management knowledge and the necessary technical knowledge. A recent report from the Project Management Institute (PMI) states that if a project manager possesses an ideal mix of managerial and technical skills, the chances of projects being successful increase by 40%.
Necessary skills of a project manager
There are times when functional managers or department heads perform the duties of a project manager without ever earning the title. If you’re someone who wants to know what project management is, or an accidental project manager handed over the responsibilities of one, read on.
1. Leadership skills
This is perhaps the most important project management skill any aspiring manager should possess. There are different types of leadership styles that you can adopt to lead and motivate your team. Any effective leader knows when it’s time to delegate tasks to team members and when to take control.
As a project manager, you must understand that there is a big difference between managing and leading. Managing is about following certain established project management processes and methodologies and making sure others follow them as well.
Leadership, on the other hand, requires both management skills and emotional intelligence. It is the responsibility of the project manager to empower and inspire team members.
2. Effective communication
This is another skill that goes “hand in hand” with effective leadership. No matter how good your vision is or how much you want to inspire your team members, everything will be moot if you can’t get your point across clearly.
In addition, much of a project manager’s time is spent dealing with stakeholders and external parties such as suppliers and contractors. All of these tasks require you to be an expert in effective communication. Therefore, it is important that project managers work to improve their communication skills.
3. Planning and strategic thinking
This is a business management skill that is absolutely critical for any project manager. The concept of a project manager without the necessary planning skills does not exist. All of the typical tasks of a project manager, such as organizing and prioritizing tasks, monitoring progress, and making situation-based decisions, require some level of project planning.
Another critical skill that is somehow related to planning is cost management. Each project comes with a monetary constraint. With proper planning, you can ensure that your project is kept safe from unnecessary project delays and budget shortages.
4. Team management
A large part of project management requires you to stay organized at work and manage your team. You must efficiently use all available resources and your team is the best resource you have. Team management is part of being an effective leader, and how you handle this responsibility can have a significant impact on your project.
Project teams are often made up of people from different departments who hardly interact with each other. Bringing all these people together and correctly assigning the tasks according to their experience is not child’s play.
5. Time management and scheduling
“Time is what we love the most, but what we use the worst.” Time management is something that both project managers and non-project managers have been doing for a long time. Even the simplest tasks require effective time management, so it’s obvious that your projects will need it too.
Fortunately, there are several tools that modern project managers have to handle this crucial task. Many project management apps come with project scheduling and tracking features.
You can perform tasks like viewing projects, scheduling tasks, tracking progress, sending reminders, and prioritizing tasks very easily.
6. Task management skills
By now you must have realized that all these required skills are interconnected. Along with scheduling, task management is a pillar that holds the project together. You can plan as much as you want, but if the project tasks are not clearly organized, the project will fail or take too long.
It is your duty as a project manager to know which tasks can be worked on simultaneously and which ones depend on each other. Recognizing these small details and arriving at the most efficient system is what sets an effective project manager apart from the crowd.
7. Risk mitigation
Risks are unavoidable, no matter how simple your project. Lots of things can go wrong and a seemingly simple task can cause you huge problems down the road. As a project manager, your job is to reduce the chances of risk while having an effective plan in case something goes wrong.
Skilled project managers can often identify potential problems before they occur and come up with a risk mitigation strategy.
8. Expert negotiation skills
All stakeholders have a slightly different agenda, and as a project manager, your job is to negotiate terms that are acceptable to everyone. To create a win-win situation, you’ll need to know when to compromise and when to hold your ground.
The job requires you to constantly create situations where you mainly get what you want, while making some compromises to convince the other person that they are getting something out of the deal too. You will have to find a middle ground with the management of your company to obtain the necessary resources, negotiate achievable deadlines, manage other stakeholders and lead your own team with experience.
9. Critical thinking
Critical thinking is an essential project management skill that can help keep you in the right state of mind even when things go wrong. It is extremely important to have a structured approach to making important decisions. This objective way of making decisions ensures that external pressures do not affect your project.
Critical thinking also makes you an adaptable and versatile manager. Even after careful planning, surprises can happen and it is very important that you salvage as much as possible to stay on track and complete the project successfully.
10. Using the right tools
Modern project management is no easy task and requires a combination of project management skills and the right tools. You must be able to identify and evaluate the right project management tools for your needs.
How can I master project management?
Effective project leaders and managers are not born with the necessary skills. They invest in themselves and continually learn the skills they need to stay in the game. If you want to master the art of project management, take a look at some ways you can start learning the necessary skills.
- Professional Certifications: The Project Management Institute (PMI) is a global body with a branch in almost every country. They run a lot of training and workshops for beginners and seasoned professionals to brush up on their management skills. You can also check out some of the registered online courses offered by many top-rated institutes.
- Books and blogs: Many of the materials published to help professionals choose project management fundamentals are readily available online. You can read books and follow a blog like this one to learn more about project management and how to apply it in your organization.
- Podcasts: There are several podcasts from famous professionals that you can use to learn from their experience. Use your investigative skills and start learning directly from the source.