If you manage a project or aspire to manage one, you could be wondering what project management skills you’ll need to excel. Being a successful project manager takes work. The best project managers are equipped with various hard and soft skills.
Project management is undergoing radical change. The ongoing evolution of techniques, frameworks, best practices, and improvements in software and technology are partly to blame for the cyclical fads in project management skills.
Nevertheless, what project management skills should managers have when undertaking any project? This article will explore everything you need to know about project management skills, the characteristics of good managers, and the role of project managers.
The Role of Project Managers in Project Managing
Large activities are typically divided into smaller projects with clear objectives, time limits, and teams. A project manager is responsible for organizing and supervising the completion of every aspect of the project, including coordination with stakeholders, team management, deadline setting and revision, task prioritization, employee motivation, planning and workflow monitoring, facilitation of communication, etc.
As you can see, a project manager’s duties are numerous and diverse, encompassing various competencies and tasks. Because of this, to be effective and efficient project managers, they must possess a wide range of hard and soft skills. We’ll go through some of the most crucial project management skills below.
What are Project Management Skills?
Every job has a set of expertise that must be possessed. A manager’s skill needs to increase in number as it becomes more sophisticated. However, only some jobs require as many skills as a project manager.
The project management key skills vary frequently throughout a project, giving the impression that they are frequently swapping tasks at times. A project manager needs both hard and soft project management skills to do this work well. Some of the top project management skills examples include leadership, communication, critical thinking, and so on. We will have a look at the key project management skills step by step.
19 Top Soft Project Management Skills
Soft skills are what we refer to as “non-technical skills,” or skills that can assist you in increasing the quality of your work without using a particular technology or specialized knowledge. Since they frequently enable you to collaborate with and link with others at work, these are also known as “people skills” or “interpersonal skills.” Soft skills project management are vital to keep a peaceful environment in the workplace despite the work stress you have to go through.
Other interpersonal and professional abilities are included in soft skills. They are soft since you are not using a machine, and there are no set procedures or “correct” ways to carry them out.
Both intellectual engagement and interpersonal contact are necessary. It concerns how you use the equipment and interact with your coworkers. Soft skills for project managers are important depending on the position. However, the following project management skills list, at the very least, is equally crucial to the hard skills we will mention here.
Project management depends on effective communication. It’s one of the primary skills required for project management. The larger the project, the more important it is to maintain a sophisticated communication network. Furthermore, project managers must communicate with all parties involved in the project, including clients, the team working on it, and any other parties.
Project managers ‘ lives are simple thanks to project management software and specialized team collaboration technologies like Pumble, which can support both asynchronous and synchronous team communication. Nevertheless, software can only improve upon what already exists. Project managers must have strong communication skills.
You know that lovely, thorough plan you created with all your excellently polished organizational skills. Yes, that will certainly change. You’ve probably heard that even the best-laid plans of project managers frequently go wrong.
That may be due to circumstances beyond your control, such as requests from clients or stakeholders, or because you discovered during the project that a change in path was necessary to achieve the best results.
The best project managers quickly deviate from the path since flexibility is crucial to effective project management. It’s one of the most critical skills for project management since it enables you to quickly adapt to change without scraping your entire project plan and starting from scratch.
We’re not claiming that adaptability will make all of that magically disappear. Still, it does mean that you’ll be better able to handle it, limit the consequences, and reroute the project toward the intended result.
Is there a statement more nebulous and less quantitative than “be a good leader”? The truth is that strong leadership will appear differently to various people. What it means to be a successful leader might change depending on the field, the group, and the individual team members.
It also consists of several distinct traits. Most project management skills on this list must be included in your leadership style. The ability to accurately express the project aim, empathize with your team, and guide the project through challenging situations is necessary. Still, you also need that additional spark to inspire the rest of the team.
That’s how you lead. In addition, the project management skills matrix includes it as a major component.
Additionally, it changes as your project management expertise increases. Therefore, when we state that one of the essential project management skills is leadership, we don’t mean that you have to be in a certain manner. Instead, a strong leader can recognize what it takes to inspire and lead their team in their style, utilizing their set of project management capabilities and competencies. Leadership is among the top skills needed for project management if you want your team to have complete faith in you.
Every project manager serves as a coach since they are responsible for bringing out the best in their team and product. In coaching, learning is the primary objective rather than knowledge transmission, an inverted teaching type.
Coaching aims to bring out a person’s full potential by focusing on their unique needs and talents. This may entail giving constructive criticism, setting high standards, highlighting areas for improvement, paying attention to worries, and tolerating (even encouraging) mistakes.
Many employees are familiar with the fundamentals of project management but need more creative thinking. The key to critical thinking is not just to believe what you are told but to take the time to grasp the situation and conduct the necessary research to make an informed choice. All project challenges are more likely to be overwhelmed by a critical thinker.
Project managers frequently deal with contradictory information, disparate views and facts, and problems with common sense. The key to a critical thinker is dissecting what we see, believe, hear, and feel to determine what is best for the circumstance at hand.
Time management skills
Time management can be a soft or hard skill, depending on how you see it. However, this is only part of the picture. We may refer to this as macro-level time management, which is team-wide and long-term. However, project managers must also be experts at managing their time daily, or at the micro level.
Project managers must maintain the same level of organization in their daily tasks as they do when tackling the project. Project managers who need more time management skills will be overwhelmed by the numerous requirements associated with the job description.
One ability that AI and computers need to improve is creativity. Although machines and animals are capable of construction, entertainment, and performance, nothing has been able to channel creativity like the one human has. It is a valuable skill because of this.
It’s up to you to express creativity how you like. Do you want to create, plan, write, create, or meander? You can increase your creativity in several ways, such as changing a habit, getting outside, engaging in leisure, experimenting with artistic materials, or listening to music. Creativity is one of the project management soft skills that no one can copy from you. It’s uniquely yours.
A project manager must both learn and impart the value of teamwork. A PM will need to collaborate effectively and dependably with all these parties and anyone else who opens their mailbox each morning. Project manager soft skills like teamwork bond the team together and help achieve goals quicker.
Behavioral science and psychology both support the benefits of teamwork. Collaboration stimulates creativity, happiness, and personal growth, minimizes burnout, develops specialized skills, increases productivity, encourages taking worthwhile risks, lessens stress, and ignites invention.
Increase the depth of team brainstorms, engage in one-on-one dialogues, and seek opinions from your team if you want to improve your teamwork abilities. When a team member comes up with a fresh suggestion, pay attention to anyone who has yet to talk.
The scariest soft skill for many project managers is organization. You can believe that organization is something you either “have” or “don’t have.” The project manager strengths include bringing stability to the organization. You can improve your organizational skills and become your own Marie Kondo, just like every other project management skill covered in this article.
The utmost method to improve as an organizer is to establish a single source of truth for your and your team’s work. Because of the disjointed nature of our work—the average employee shifts between 10 tools each day—we are frequently unorganized. Use a digital organization tool to serve as the team’s source of truth rather than divide your time between ten different tools.
Finding a response to a query or a solution to an issue requires research abilities. The project manager can fill any knowledge gaps using research skills, which could help them finish the project more quickly or successfully.
It is worthwhile to learn about all aspects of the project lifecycle, including strategy, content delivery network, content development, creative concept, service design, analytics, etc.
One of the primary aspects of project management is collaboration. Collaboration in project management enables you to complete tasks more quickly and effectively. You acquire important project insights that you would not find within your team when you can coordinate across teams. Projects are intrinsically more innovative and well-developed when multiple minds work on them.
Practice conversational skills to enhance your ability to work with others. Use active listening strategies to help you stay attentive and involved when others are speaking to you. It may seem straightforward, but developing open communication, fewer boundaries, and co-creation skills are essential for a cohesive team.
Conflict will unavoidably occur throughout the tasks you oversee. One possibility is that a project stakeholder seeks to alter the project’s scope. Alternatively, you may have been late for your deadline or budget.
Conflict resolution aims to make both sides of the argument feel heard and supported. If there have been adverse parties, give them your time and attention as you seek a solution that benefits everyone. Even if it isn’t possible, taking a patient and sympathetic stance can help diffuse a potentially stressful situation and provide a better outcome.
Collaborative, iterative problem-solving abilities enable you to approach and, eventually, resolve problems. Having the “right” answer to every problem is not the goal of developing problem-solving skills; rather, those who excel at this task regularly practice looking at issues from several angles and carefully offering solutions.
Use routine analyses or data-driven decision-making frameworks to improve your problem-solving skills. For instance, if you’re trying to figure out how to increase sales by 30% over your rivals, you can conduct a competitive study to see where you stand right now. After that, apply that knowledge to the reduced sales issue. You can create a fresh marketing plan with the sales group in this situation.
Determining and conveying how others will use their time is a significant role for project managers. Nevertheless, being conscious of your time management is also crucial.
Problematically, urgent responsibilities frequently take priority over significant duties. Analyze your present tasks using the 80/20 rule, if necessary. How do you ensure that crucial tasks get done when you only have a limited time in the day? It’s important to discern the body language of those around you to keep on track. Successful project managers respect their teammates’ time.
Negotiation skills are one of the essentials of project management. They must haggle over prices and present arguments supporting the original budgets and potential budget increases. Additionally, project managers are the ones who need to bring the project under control and protect it from clients who are overly ambitious and may otherwise subject it to scope creep and other problems.
The project manager’s responsibility is to guarantee the satisfaction of all parties involved while ensuring the seamless operation of the project. Referring to this as soft-skill diplomacy wouldn’t be an overstatement.
Budget, resource, and timeline discussions can turn confrontational and ineffective if they aren’t handled delicately. The finest project managers can hold firm positions without jeopardizing their working relationships while finding compromises when necessary.
People who have personalities make up teams. Team members come in various shapes and sizes and must all get along. Interpersonal skills facilitate dispute resolution and bring out the best in your project team.
Attention to Detail
Tasks part of a project must be finished on schedule and within a certain budget. Detail-oriented thinking is necessary for this. Project managers need to focus on the details of every area involved in the work, not just the task itself. Project management success depends on your ability to concentrate on even the smallest aspects.
Even though it might not seem crucial, particularly when the workforce adopts a more informal dress code, project managers benefit from maintaining a professional image. Presentation is crucial. It conveys accountability, leadership, and a sense of security to team members and stakeholders.
A Sense of Humor
Even though it’s a soft skill, project managers require a good sense of humor. You and your team will feel less stressed due to humor, and it is only when conflicts are reduced that wiser decisions and solutions become apparent. A wonderful example of how project managers can use comedy is through team-building exercises.
16 Top Project Management Hard Skills
Project management skills acquired by education or training are called hard skills, often called project management technical skills. Hard skills are crucial in project management because they enable project managers to carry out their duties by applying project management methodologies.
Hard skills are quantitative capabilities in contrast to soft skills. While soft skills apply to many job functions, these hard skills are particularly important for project management. You will become a more effective and well-rounded project manager if you work on developing these.
Planning effectively entails both macro and micro levels. Extensive preparation is required to produce items like meeting agendas, statements of work, budgets, timeframes, resource plans, and briefings.
The routine tasks include scheduling your day, deciding whom to call first, and figuring out how to find the time to update your status paperwork. Your capacity for effective planning will directly impact on the project’s success. No matter how well you can execute, a project must have a proper plan to be successful.
There is no one way to go about things regarding project planning. To further nurture this skill, you will want to broaden your study by reading various sources and listening to other experts. You can also make use of project plan templates for efficiency.
Project scheduling remains one of the skills needed for project management. Writing your project plan requires careful consideration of the project scheduling procedure. A project schedule organizes tasks, collaborators, and time for a project’s completion. When considering project management skills, people consider project scheduling, time constraints, and outputs. Project scheduling, however, entails resource and risk management, so it goes beyond that.
Task management is the skill at which you and your team manage your time once your project has started. The best project managers can successfully assist their team in prioritizing and carrying out tasks because they have real-time access to what they are working on.
You can utilize task management software. Using task management software can give you a comprehensive understanding of all the work being done on your project, going beyond a simple to-do list. You can enable your team to perform productively, effectively, and successfully by using good task management.
Task management involves a lot of trial and error. Additionally, it means being willing to upgrade to a more complete solution if you discover that your existing task management tools need to be improved.
As a result, you should spend less money on task management training. It’s a hazy skill that will alter daily depending on your assignment’s demands. Practice this skill often to improve it, and then supplement your knowledge with free lessons and guides to gain a deeper understanding.
A risk is anything that has the potential to hinder a project. Even factors that may benefit the project are categorized as risks by project risk management, but we won’t concentrate on that at this time.
The project manager is responsible for recognizing these potential risks, assessing their likelihood of occurring, and determining the potential impact of any adverse effects. After completing this, they can develop risk mitigation strategies, looking for a fix for every problem.
Risk is a part of project planning, regardless of its size. You must establish a risk management strategy before the project is carried out to recognize, evaluate, and manage risk. The better you are at managing risk, the more probable it is that your project will be successful. A key success criterion for project managers is a properly defined plan with appropriate risk management.
If risk management is executed well, the team may be able to adopt a proactive stance toward achieving the project’s objectives. In contrast, an absence of risk management forces the team to adopt a reactive strategy, where each problem must be resolved as it arises without regard to a predetermined course of action.
Project Control Skills
The responsibility of a project manager is to prevent budget and schedule overruns. Every endeavor will put these set restrictions to the test. Project control is among the key project management skills for managers as scope creep, unforeseen roadblocks, and other entanglements will push these time and financial constraints to their limits.
Project control uses data and analytics from your dashboards and project tracking tools to predict and impact the time and money needed for a specific project. A PM’s responsibility is to ensure that things don’t spiral out of control as a project moves toward completion once restraints have been established.
Every project manager knows no project is ever “100% complete.” There is constantly more to accomplish, more to create, and more to perfect. Proper controls aid in setting boundaries around a project to prevent it from reaching a developmental standstill.
The project’s energy source is the project budget. Without a project budget, project management is just ideas without practical application. However, creating a project budget is only one aspect of the process. Budget management involves keeping track of costs throughout the project’s life cycle and ensuring that actual expenses don’t exceed the budgeted amount. You need to follow complete project management budgeting methods for effective budgeting.
For project managers to properly pinpoint where expenditures are going over budget and what adjustments are necessary to keep costs under control, they typically need expertise. They must be able to keep track of expenses, create spreadsheets, and decide how to spend or not use the budget. Here is a guide on cost analysis tools for project management you can go through.
Technical Writing Skill
Of course, the ability to write technical reports or documentation is critical to developing a project plan. However, it is necessary for more than just project planning.
It doesn’t matter if you use specialized project management software; it is always necessary for a project manager to maintain documentation on everything related to the project. Plans, progress reports, reports, and so on are included.
Let’s examine the idea of documentation using a project management approach. The Waterfall methodology emphasizes documentation more than before. The goal is to meticulously document every step of the process so that even a slight shift in team members will continue the project’s progress.
New hires can review the documentation and continue where the departing team member left off. Nevertheless, regardless of whether you use the Waterfall methodology, you must have excellent technical writing abilities to succeed as a project manager.
The process of predicting prospective project outcomes is known as project forecasting. Reducing risk will increase the likelihood of success, which is the goal of project forecasting.
Project managers can focus on aspects of the project that might be improved using this technique to prevent going over budget, running behind time, and running out of resources when needed.
Reporting on projects requires understandably collecting data to ensure that the project is accomplishing its objectives. To keep stakeholders informed about the project’s status, project reports are also useful tools for information presentation. For project managers, it’s a crucial tool for ensuring the project’s successful completion.
Project tracking is used to evaluate the success of the tasks associated with a project. It keeps track of the project to see if it is progressing according to plan; if not, it finds and fixes any problems creating delays. Project tracking is one of the major project management technical skills. This procedure gets started early in the project and is crucial. To remain on schedule and identify bottlenecks and other issues inhibiting the project’s prompt completion within its budget, growth, and achievement are tracked.
The project’s objectives, deliverables, tasks, budget, and deadlines are all listed in the project scope. The terms of reference are also sometimes used to refer to this document, which is known as a project scope statement. The goal of project scoping is to establish the project’s parameters, specify the positions and duties of the project team, and choose the processes that will be used to carry out, evaluate, and approve the project’s work.
Practice defining project scope promptly and frequently to hone your scoping skills. Once you’ve decided on your project’s scope, communicate it to all relevant parties and bring it up periodically so everyone knows its objectives and constraints. Use it as a guide to decide when to decline fresh requests.
Every significant project has checkpoints along the road, and the project manager oversees allocating and scheduling each task’s completion date and the people who will be working on it at each moment.
Project Management Methodologies
A project manager must understand the many project management approaches that are available. That doesn’t imply you must be a professional in each one, though, as they are frequently sector-specific and call for certification.
Project Management Software
Project managers must be proficient in project management software in the modern world. It’s one of the technical skills for project manager that will take you ahead of the competition. You must choose the project management tools and features that are best for your and your team’s workflow among the many project management software possibilities now on the market. Go through this discussion on different Project Management Software to select the right software for you.
Workload management, which involves forecasting, planning, scheduling, and monitoring a person’s, a team’s, or an organization’s workload, falls under the purview of project managers. You should evenly distribute the effort to ensure that everyone on your team is working to their full potential and producing more. Project management, resource planning, capacity planning, and many more concepts are all part of this discipline.
Agile management is a fast project management methodology, particularly well-liked by teams working on software, engineering, and product development. Agile employs several lean approaches and functions according to incremental evolution and continuous improvement.
How to develop project management skills?
Daily practice is the key to mastering these project management skills. When you know the areas, you wish to develop, as with everything, you can look for chances.
Start monitoring your tasks in a project management program to ensure you’re always prepared. On top of these things, volunteer to provide a presentation to test your communication abilities and search for ways to encourage and motivate each team member. As you develop your soft skills, you’ll find that they quickly become your project management advantages.
Characteristics of a project manager
In addition to possessing hard and soft skills, some people are more naturally suited to being project managers because they have specific personality attributes. Project management may be your calling if this list resonates with you.
A project manager will not give up easily. You oversee this project, so you must be able to complete it under any circumstances. This requires dedication, perseverance, and fortitude.
Project managers cannot only focus on the present. They must be able to see the future, comprehend the bigger picture, and envision achievement. Not only that, nevertheless, they must additionally be able to persuade others to share their vision. Although a PM doesn’t need to have a broad vision, having a distinct one might give others clarity and direction.
The project manager is a leader, someone others can go to for guidance when making decisions. A great PM only thinks once to decide, even if it might not be the ideal one. They are aware that deciding is necessary to proceed.
Project managers are aware of how to accomplish a specific aim. Successful project managers possess the strategic thinking required to find the best answers to the issues they encounter through a blend of intuition, expertise, and wisdom. It’s one of those skills for a project manager that will help you overcome difficult situations.
Did you make the first move? Do you make inquiries rather than sit around and wait for responses? Do you possess a cheerful, upbeat attitude? Do you accept challenges with “yes”? Then, you might be a great PM because you are so proactive. These are the qualities of a project manager that top organizations look for.
Final words on Project Management Skills
So, what steps should you take to develop your project management skills? Make a list of the skills you lack on an individual basis. Include the technical abilities you’d like to gain and the soft skills you can improve. Use your list to direct the growth of your project management skills. Attending conferences, observing how others learn, and enrolling in courses.
What project management skills do you possess as a project manager? How do you plan to improve your skills if you lack any? These are important questions to help you achieve the feat you desire as a project manager.
What are the 3 critical skills of a project manager?
Communicating, managing a team, and critical thinking are among the must-have skills of a project manager. Furthermore, such managers must stay current with project management practices and best use the available tools.
What is the main purpose of project management?
Project management aims to correctly plan and manage a project to accomplish its specified goals and deliverables. Assessing and managing risks, wise resource management, intelligent budgeting, and transparency between many teams and stakeholders are all necessary.
How to improve project management skills?
Improving your project management skills might involve several things. However, the best approach is to work on your communication level, delegate tasks to team members, attend relevant courses on project management, and set realistic goals. In addition, you can pick the most important soft and hard project management skills and implement them in your project. Everything depends on your passion to develop or improve yourself. You can learn more about this from our guide on How to improve project management skills.
Is project management a key skill?
The fundamental skills required to complete a project from beginning to end are called project management skills. These abilities enable you to efficiently complete a job from beginning to end. Looking at it from this perspective, project management is a key skill.
What are some examples of project management?
There are several project management skills examples for new managers to learn from. For instance, a project manager oversees organizing a group to create software. The project’s scope is the first thing they define. The project team, comprising quality assurance professionals, technical writers, developers, and engineers, will receive further tasks to complete the project.