7 Key Project Management Skills to Develop

Project management has lately been under constant threat. Some project managers have given the title of ‘project manager’ a bad name. Just the mere mention of a ‘project manager’ conjures up the image of a dictator who bosses people around. However, there is more that goes into the management of projects than just ordering people around and giving instructions.

It is useless for a manager to have the theoretical knowledge of project management but lack the skills to apply that knowledge. Lack of application skills may also result in the ineffective implementation of the project, hence defeating the whole point of project management.

Here is a list of project management skills to develop:

1. Leadership Skills

Exceptional leadership abilities are an important part of project management skills. Project managers should lead from both operational and strategic perspectives. It is their work to resolve conflicts and set goals, to communicate the vision of the organization, get the team interested and make sure the workers are well equipped with tools, space and the money to carry out their duties.

Project managers should also set processes to keep tabs on the team. In as much as the manager may want the team to buy-in, it is their responsibility to ensure the project is completed without excuses. Being a project manager means being a leader, and a leader leads by establishing relationships and mobilizing their team towards a common goal.

2. Communication Skills

Communication is one of the most important project management skills. Communication is the crux of relationships, whether business or personal. The effectiveness of a project manager’s communication has a direct impact on the team, clients and key stakeholders. The more informed the client is on the progress of the project, the more likely the project will succeed.

Frequent and effective communication helps to avert uncomfortable conversations since everyone is on the same page. For good communication, project managers should master the ability to listen, be clear, and make sure there is no misunderstanding.

3. Planning Skills

Often, managers fail to prioritize project planning or scheduling, which is central to project management. It is not possible for a manager to direct a project without a plan. Planning ensures tasks are done in the right order and at the right time. Along with planning, managers are responsible for monitoring the progress of the project to ensure everything stays on track. The effectiveness of a plan impacts on the ability of a project to be successful.

4. Time Management Skills

As much as project managers determine how the project team spends its time, it is also critical to manage their own time. In any given day, there are myriad of tasks that need to get done before the day is over. A good project manager prioritizes the most important task first every day.

In some cases, there is usually an urgent task that trumps over the important task. A manager should recognize that important tasks are rarely urgent; and urgent tasks are seldom important. An efficient project manager should be able to schedule important tasks within a given period.

5. Risk Management Skills

Project stakeholders, especially investors, hate surprises, which can be avoided through proper risk management. Project managers should always be on top of their projects, ready to mitigate risks as they arise. The manager should be able to foresee what could go wrong and prepare for it, or look for ways to avoid such eventuality. The quicker a manager is able to identify the salient risks, the higher the chances of avoiding them.

6. Negotiation Skills

Project management brings together a group of people with competing interests. It is the work of the project manager to ensure that the different interests in a project are considered at every stage. To negotiate the use of resources, budgets and schedules is a fundamental skill of good project management. A successful project manager should seek to win without burning the bridges behind them.

To inculcate good negotiation skills, seek to establish relationships and never ignore stakeholders’ interests. A project manager with excellent negotiation skills seeks for a middle ground and works out compromises with a win-win endgame for everyone.

7. Subject Matter Expertise

Today’s world is a digital marketplace awash with information and data. There is always something new to learn. Managers need knowledge to come up with plans, execute and manage them in the right way with a view to achieving success for the entire team.

Knowing what is done, how it’s done, and how much time is required to successfully implement a project is an invaluable skill. To stay on the cutting edge, project managers need to keep learning. They should seek to improve their interaction with the team, clients, stakeholders and the functional leaders within the organization.

Project managers should apply knowledge, tools, skills and techniques to meet a project’s requirements. According to PMI, it is the manager’s responsibility to acquire skills and competencies that aid project management.