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Top 10 Skills for a Project Manager

Top 10 Skills for a Project Manager

Project managing is all about planning and controlling several areas of a project.  To do so requires a multitude of skills, both hard and soft. So, in this post we will look at the top ten skills a potential project manager needs to have.

1) Hard Skills

Hard skills qualifications such as PRINCE2, AgilePM, PRINCE2 Agile or Scrum (to name a few) are what qualify you for the role of project manager. The more skills you have, or are eager to gain, the more adaptable you show yourself to be.  Adaptability itself, is a soft skill that employers look for because change is a constant in project management.  If you have no adaptability or find change difficult then the project will struggle.

If you can show yourself to be adaptable then you are already ticking several boxes on potential employers’ checklists.  Employers like an applicant who is already skilled but they also like employees who are willing to continue learning and adding to their skills.  Gone are the days when you stop learning once you get the job! 

Being a project manager though, is so much more than just having the right hard skills certifications to complete the project.  It is about being able to manage people, teams, customers, stakeholders and contractors as well.  So, for this reason, consider any hard skills qualifications you may have (regardless of how many) as number one on the list of the top ten project management skills because these are what will get you to interview.  However, more and more employers are recognising the value of soft skills too, so below I have listed the 9 major soft skills needed for a project management career (minus adaptability!)   

2) Communication

The first on the list of soft skills has to be communication.  You would struggle to manage a project if you were unable to communicate effectively.  As a project manager, not only will you be communicating with your team but you will also be negotiating with customers, stakeholders and contractors, so you must be able to communicate clearly for the project to be successful.  Effective communication goes hand-in-hand with leadership skills.

3) Leadership

As a project manager, responsible for project success, leadership skills are vital if you are going to inspire and motivate your team to achieve the desired end goal.  But ‘leadership’ is one little word that covers a myriad of skills, some of which are listed below…

4) People Skills

Good leadership requires good people skills or interpersonal skills if a project manager is going to keep their team motivated and productive.  Everyone is different and your team will be made up of many personalities who all have to get along.  So, get to know your team members and their strengths and weaknesses.  There may be conflicts you will have to deal with so knowing your team and having good people skills will allow you to deal with any issue/s effectively.

5) Competence

A competent project manager who knows how to effectively manage their team is one who will inspire trust and motivation.  Competence is key to the overall success of the project, but it is also about knowing that you are not an expert in all areas and you may need to ask for advice from others on times.

6) Enthusiasm

A project manager full of enthusiasm will in turn, enthuse their team members.  Your enthusiasm will give them confidence in your leadership skills and in their own ability to complete the task/s they have been assigned.  Enthusiasm will also keep your team motivated and focused.   

7) Integrity

A successful project manager brings a successful team together and leads them with enthusiasm and motivation.  You need to lead by example and your integrity will help you to do that because it shows the team that you are confident and committed to the project.  Your integrity will foster your team’s trust and respect.

8) Problem-solving

Projects themselves are problems and during the project lifecycle you will be faced with a variety of issues that you will need to redress.  Being able to think on your feet is a key requirement to completing the project on time and in budget.  Managing a project involves managing people, so issues may include disputes between team members, clients or stakeholders.  Managing people in itself is complex so you need to actively listen to what is being said if you are to solve the problem/s.

9) Delegating

As a project manager you will be assigning and overseeing the tasks your team members have been assigned. You need to know the strengths and weaknesses of your team so that you can assign tasks according to their skill set.  You also need to trust each team member to conduct themselves and complete their tasks without you having to micromanage them.

10) Organisational Skills & Time Management

Organisational skills are the ability of a project manager to manage theirs and their teams time and tasks efficiently. As a project manager you will be scheduling conferences, team meetings and other such appointments whilst simultaneously maintaining an organised workflow.  A major part of a project manager’s role is to meet deadlines, so organisational and time management skills are tantamount to a project management career. Without these skills issues and delays (or worse!) can occur.

And finally…

One soft skill that is not on the list but that I think is well worthy of a mention is a sense of humour.  In project management a sense of humour is a wonderful tool to have and very underrated, which is why I have included it here.  Humour relieves stress and tension for both project manager and team.  It creates a pleasant atmosphere so the team are motivated and morale is high.  Under such an atmosphere ideas and actions bear fruit and the project is more likely to be successful…

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