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PROJECT MANAGEMENT SKILLS
Operations keep the lights on, strategy provides a light at the end of the tunnel, but project management is the train engine that moves the organization forward.
Being a truly great project manager is about more than just training and qualifications. It is not about qualifications or degrees or not even about simply delivering on the classic duties and responsibilities of a project manager. Those things are important, but being a really great project manager isn’t just about tasks, timings and technical prowess. In fact, some of the most important project manager’s skills the ones that will help you project team to feel valued, motivated and trusted are the soft skills.
The soft skills of project management are what allow you to get the best out of people, create harmonious relationships across departments and keep things running smoothly throughout the process. They are the skills you rely on when things start to get scary, when the project subtly begins to change direction or when you need to give tough feedback to your team. While the team soft skills makes them sound fluffy, the impact they have on your teams performance is roc -solid and majority of project management professionals agree. According to the report, four out of five respondents believe that soft skills are more important today than they were just five years ago. Here’s a rundown on the important project management skills and how to develop them into your project management strengths.
Communication: As a project manager you need to work with a lot of different people. Most projects have a long list of stake holders that you need to keep aligned, up-to-date and ideally happy. When you have so many people to manage, communication is key. For work to flow, you need to make sure that everyone is on the same page, working towards the same business and company goals and all kept in the loop about any changes or issues. But that is easier said than done, especially when your job is to liaise with people at all different levels, meaning that you need to be able to consistently tailor your communication style and content to the right audience. Poor communication can derail everything for a project manager. So considering it is a skill you will rely on multiple times a day, every single day, in lots of varied formats, it seems pretty safe to say that the importance of people skills to project management success cannot be ignored.
Whether you are in a client meeting or an employee one-to-one, simply listening is one of the most powerful things you can do. Do it right and ask the right questions and you will be able to pick up on what is being said as well as what is not. With a better understanding of the situations at hand and how the team is feeling about the work they are doing, you are better positioned to problem-solve when the need arises.
Feedback is essential for growth and everybody wants it, hence do not shy away from giving feedback, even when it is critical. In most people’s minds, feedback is linked to career development. One study found that majority of people believe that corrective feedback improves their performance, so long as it is presented well. That means your feedback should be action based and specific with a clear path for want to do better next time. Centralize your communications. With so many different ways to communicate, it can be easy to feel like you are constantly crossing your wires of losing visibility of important information. Using a team management tool can help by giving you one central place for all of your important discussions and updates, at both the task level and project level as allowing you to send fewer emails and keep your focus where it matters on the work.
Organization: Developing an organizational system, whether electronic or paper based, to ensure the smooth running of the project is an essential project management skill. Employers want candidates with excellent organizational skills as sloppy and forgetful project managers are less likely to fulfill the projects requirements. Some organizational skills include prioritizing, multi-tasking and documenting the projects timeline for future reference. Organization is one of the most important skills needed to be a project manager. While it may be the most typical project management skill on the list, the good news is that it is also one of the most tangible and therefore one of the skills easiest to practice and develop. Organization is a broad term that covers a lot of associated sub skills, from stuff like planning out the project in detail to the everyday things like personal time management that allow you to get your day to day work done and be in the right place at the right time.
As a project manager, you are not just responsible for keeping yourself organized and managing your work, everyone else is relying on you, too. So it is easy to see why organization is one of the most important strengths of a project manager. Keep your calendar up-to-date. Having a shared calendar helps the whole team to keep track of the important tasks and milestones so you never lose sight of when things are due. It also makes it easier to know when people are available so you can schedule meetings with less fuss. And when it comes to things like annual leave, it even helps you to spot any potential resourcing issues before they become problems. Part of being organized means focusing on one thing at a time which also means giving each individual task your full attention, rather than trying to spread your attention across several things at once. So when you are in a meeting, or if you need some deep focus time, turn off the notifications and make some space for yourself to think.
Adaptability: You know what they say about the best laid plans about of mice and project managers they often go awry. That can be for reasons outside of your control, like client or stakeholder demands or because in the course of the project, you realized you needed to change direction in order to get the best outcome. Be a little more agile. No matter which project management methodology you like to use, understanding the basics of agile is a good project management skill to have in your toolkit. Even if you do not want to go fully agile, there are lots of project management practices you can start to incorporate, like daily stand-ups, iterative sprints or more continuous feedback. Maybe just get inspired by the core values and principles and see if there are any you can steal adapt for your own team.
Empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand how others around you might be feeling and see things from their perspective. As a project manager, empathy empowers you to engage with everyone you work with more compassionately and productivity. In turn, that helps you to be a more insightful leader and create a more motivational, rewarding business environment for your team. Because you are better positioned to understand what drives each individual, you are also better equipped to help them develop their skills and reach their goals. Empathy is also an important part of the project manager skill set when it comes to conflict resolution. Particularly when used alongside those excellent communication skills, you have been working on, empathy will make you a better mediator and can help your team members to feel more respected and valued. Check in with your team. Try to connect with the people working on your project. This circle back to the skills we talked about with communication, like asking questions and listening to the answers, but it goes a step further as you do all of that, you need to make a conscious effort to see things from the other person’s point of view. Developing that personal connection with individual team members will help you to understand how they see things, become familiar with their individual communication styles and more. Studies have found that reading literary fiction exposes us to complicated characters and scenarios we otherwise might not experience in our own. And as we start to identify with the characters and become emotionally involved, we begin to consider their view points, goals and desires.
Great project managers are like broken wings, or to put it in another way, they are able to stay cool under pressure. That is important because as a project manager, you will find yourself in a lot of high pressure situations. Deadlines closing in, difficult client conversations, things not going as per plan, project managers do not just need to survive the chaos, they need to be able to thrive in it. They need to be able to keep a level head and make good judgment calls under pressure. If you want to be a great project manager, you need to be able to think on your feet, come up with creative solutions and keep the team feeling positive, not panicked.
If you want to stay cool under pressure, you need to start by understanding what your stress triggers are. Maybe you are unfazed by deadlines, but you find it hard to say no to people in the moment. Understanding your personal pressure points will help you to be more aware of them going forward, so you can help ahead and make better decisions. Learn from your experience. You are only human, so no matter how calm and collected you try to be, you are probably going to get a little frazzled from time to time. Use it to your advantage and do a run-down of what happened after the fact. Once you are out of the situation, make it a point to reflect on how you responded by recording your answers. Keep track of what causes you to get flustered and try to see if you can chart any patterns over time.
Great leadership will look different to different people. What it means to be a good leader can vary depending on industry, team and individual team members. To be a good leader, you need to incorporate many of the other project management skills on this list and it is not just one individual trait. You need to be able to communicate the project goal clearly, relate to your team with empathy and steer the project through rocky patches but you also need that extra spark of something that can ignite inspiration in the rest of the team. That is leadership and it’s a key factor in the project management skills matrix. It is also something that grows as you develop your project management experience. So when we say that leadership is one of the key project management skills, we do not mean that you need to be one particular way. Instead, we believe that being a good leader means being able to understand what is needed to motivate and drive your team, in your own way, using your own unique project management skills and competencies.
Learn from other leaders who inspire you. Try to learn as much as you can from leaders you admire, whether that means going for coffee with a colleague or mentor or reading up on a famous leader you want to emulate. The best way to learn these project management skills is by practicing them every day. As with most things, once you know the areas you want to improve, you can seek opportunities to develop them. Volunteer to give a presentation to challenge your communication skills, start trading your work in a project management tool to ensure you are always organized and on top of things and look for ways to engage and inspire each team member. Start practicing your soft skills and you will soon find that they become your project management strengths.
Anyone who oversees projects is a project manager, but to become a more thoughtful manager, you need to develop the right project management skills. In order for teams to effectively collaborate and get their best work done, they need a project manager to lead the way. Project management skills are the attributes you develop to become a more experienced project manager. Building a project management skill set includes learning technical and hard skills, such as portfolio management and project scoping and soft skills. Project management is the practice of organizing and expecting work efficiently and helping your team do the same. For a while, project managers had to be trained and certified in complicated projects management technology.
Project management is a complex process that requires a wide range of skills. Whether you manage projects on a regular basis or only once or twice a year, the skills learned in project management are applicable to many managerial and leadership positions. Understanding client needs and meeting their expectations in a timely manner are universal requirements. Sometimes there is no better teacher than hands on experience. You can build project management skills by taking on more managerial tasks in your workplace. You can also look for volunteer opportunities in your community that will allow you to help plan and execute projects. You might already have project management skills, if you have helped to organize any new initiatives professionally or personally. You probably already have some project management skills, even if had no idea what to call that particular expertise at that time. Be sure to highlight these experiences when you apply for project management jobs.
Every job requires you to possess a specific set of skills in order to perform it. Typically, the more complex the position, the more numerous the skill requirements for it are. But few positions can match the sheer number of skills required to be a project manager. Throughout the life cycle of a project, the project manager’s immediate duties change several times over, so that at times, it can feel like regularly switching jobs.
Collectively known as hard skills are those skills that are teachable. In other words, all hard skills can be learned through education or training. If there exists a degree for something, then that something is also a hard skill. For example, a language degree quantifies your knowledge of a certain language. Proficient use of Microsoft Excel is also a hard skill, as is graphics design, editing, typing speed, statistical analysis, bus driving and so on. Each job comes with its own hard skill requirements, but few positions are as demanding in this regard as those for project managers. For a project manager’s CV to look impressive, it would ideally be decorated with all the hard skills. The definition of soft skills can be vague it can be defined as character skills and personality traits that reflect how you work in general. This includes everyone’s favorite evergreen hits that can be found on most CV, like team player and open to criticism. It is common for soft skills to be treated as nice-to-have for some jobs. Bakers bake, actors act, dancers dance, and project managers manage projects. To do so, project managers are required to display proficiency with a mix of all soft and hard skills. While these requirements are extensive they are not unreachable. In any case the segment on improving project management skills should give you good pointers on where to start.
Project management skills are the competencies and traits a person needs in order to effectively co-ordinate a project from start to finish. A project manager leads a projects team using good communication, interpersonal skills, motivational skills and organization. Project management is a simple term but it encompasses a wide range of skills and responsibilities. Project management includes planning projects, mapping out timelines and executing each phase of the project. Project management skills are a group of skills needed to initiate plan and execute a project. Project managers often have a team of people working on the project and everyone needs to work together to achieve specific goal. Project management skills encompass a wide variety of hard skills, soft skills and personality traits.
A project manager is responsible for initiating and executing a project. They are also responsible for managing and motivating a team, managing the expectations of the stake holders and communicating with company executives and the stakeholders about the statics of the project. Project management takes both hard and soft skills. You can learn hard skills and practice to make them perfect, while soft skills such as organization and time management improve as you gain experience. In addition to being a good leader and motivator, a project manager has to have skills to get the job done. Project management surrounds a wide range of skills sets. When applying for a position, it is important to include both hard and soft skills on your resume and highlight them in a way that makes you stand out. In order to highlight your relevant skills, you should include examples in your summary. Provide a short explanation of a project where you reached or exceeded the goal. In this experience section of your resume, don’t just list your previous jobs; include some examples of how you used your skills. It can be how you used a specific software system to create a successful timeline or how you motivated your team to finish a project under budget. Your cover letter should highlight and demonstrate your experience as a project manager. Use quantitative evidence of your success with details. A successful project management interview takes some planning. Before the interview, thing about your past experience and have some specific talking points prepared. If you haven’t worked as a project manager, prepare points about transferable skills from other jobs and experiences. Highlight your leadership skills, your organizational abilities and your ability to see the big picture. Discuss specific situations where you were able to work with people such as your team, other management personnel and stakeholders outside of your company. Prepare to answer questions about projects you have worked on and tailor them to the role you are interviewing for. Project management skills consist of a wide variety of skills and personality traits. It takes confidence to lead a project and the ability to gather a good team and lead them.
The best way to get a project done faster is to start sooner. A goal without a timeline is just a dream. The goal you set must be challenging. At the same time, it should be realistic and attainable, not impossible to reach.