10 Project Management Skills for successful project managers

Murtaza Khalil

Murtaza Khalil

Project Management

Project management is one of the most sought after quality of the modern business environment. The consistent increase in the salaries of project managers across the world is a valid indicator of their demand in the market.

Project managers are typically responsible for overseeing the entire project and performing key tasks that can make the project successful. Project managers, however, are not the only ones tasked with the responsibility of projects. It’s become a competitive market where you need to expand your skillset continuously and across spheres.

Apart from the obvious requirement of the relevant technical skills, managers are expected to have a combination of business management skills and the necessary soft skills. A recent report by the Project Management Institute (PMI) claims that if a project manager possesses an ideal mix of technical and management skills, the chances of projects succeeding increase by 40 percent.

Necessary skills for a functional project manager

There are times when functional managers or department heads perform the duties of a project manager without ever getting the title. If you’re someone setting foot into the world of project management or an accidental project manager being handed the responsibilities of one, read on.

1. Leadership skills

This is perhaps the most important project management skill any aspiring manager must possess. There are different types of leadership styles you can adopt to lead and motivate the team. Any effective leader knows when it is time to delegate tasks to the team members and when to take control.

As a project manager, you must understand that there is a huge difference between managing and leading. Management is following certain established processes and project management methodologies and ensuring others follow them too. 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 soft skill that goes ‘hand in hand’ with effective leadership. No matter how good of a vision you have or how much you want to inspire your team members, it will all be moot if you can’t get your point across clearly.

Additionally, a large part of a project manager’s time is spent while dealing with stakeholders and external parties like vendors and contractors. All of these tasks require you to be an expert at effective communication. Therefore it’s important for project managers to work on enhancing 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 typical tasks of a project manager like organizing and prioritizing tasks, monitoring progress, and making decisions based on the situation, require a certain level of planning.

Another critical skill that is somewhat related to planning is cost management. Every project comes with a monetary constraint. With proper planning, you can make sure that your project remains safe from unnecessary delays and budget shortages.

4. Team management

A huge part of managing projects requires you to manage people. You must efficiently use all the resources available and your team is the best resource you have. Team management is a part of being an effective leader and how you handle this responsibility can have a significant impact on your project.

Project teams usually consist of people from different departments who hardly interact with each other. Bringing all these people on the same page and correctly assigning tasks according to their expertise is no child’s play.

5. Time management and scheduling

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst”. Time management is something both project managers and non-project managers have been doing for a very long time. Even the simplest tasks require effective time management so it’s obvious that your projects will also need it.

Luckily, there are several tools modern project managers have to handle this crucial task. Many project management applications come with scheduling and tracking features. You can perform tasks like visualizing the project, scheduling tasks, tracking progress, sending reminders, and prioritize tasks very easily.

6. Task management skills

By now you must have realized that all these required skills are interconnected. Together with scheduling, task management is a pillar that holds the project together. You can plan as much as you want, but if your project tasks are not clearly organized, the project will either fail or take too much time.

It is your duty as a project manager to know which tasks can be worked on simultaneously and which tasks depend on each other. Recognizing these small details and coming up with the most efficient system is what distinguishes an effective project manager from the crowd.

7. Risk mitigation

Risks are unavoidable no matter how simple your project is. Many things can go wrong and a task that seemed simplistic can cause huge problems for you down the road. As a project manager, your job is to reduce the possibilities of risks while having an effective plan in case something goes wrong.

Skillful project managers can generally 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, it’s your job to negotiate terms that are acceptable for everyone. In order to create a win-win situation for everyone, you’ll have to know when to compromise and when to stand your ground.

The job requires you to constantly create situations where you get what you primarily want while making some compromises to convince the other person that they are getting something out of the deal too. You’ll have to find middle ground with your company’s management in order to get the required resources, negotiate achievable timelines, handle other stakeholders, and expertly manage your own team.

9. Critical thinking

Critical thinking is an essential project management skill that can help you stay in the correct state of mind even when things go south. It’s extremely important to have a structured approach to making important decisions. This objective way of making decision ensures that external pressures do not affect your project.

Critical thinking also makes you an adaptable and versatile manager. Even after meticulous planning, surprises can happen and it’s very important that you salvage as much as possible in order to stay on track and complete the project successfully.

10. Using the right tools

Modern project management is not an easy task and it requires a combination of project management skills and the right tools. You should be able to identify and evaluate the right tools for your requirements.

There are numerous collaborative project management tools like Kissflow Projects that can make your job easier.

How can I master project management?

Effective leaders and project managers are not born with the necessary skills. They invest in themselves and continuously learn the skills they need to stay in the game. If you want to master the art of project management, check out 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 organize a lot of training and workshops for beginners and experienced professionals to brush up their management skills. You can also check out some of the registered online courses being offered by many top tier institutes.
  • Books and blogs: A lot of published materials to help professionals pick the basics of project management is easily 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 of famous professionals you can use to learn from their experience. Use your research skills and start learning right from the source.

Being responsible for a project means having a lot of responsibilities at once and sometimes one can get overwhelmed. However, staying in the right frame of mind and working on enhancing the correct set of skills can make this burden a little easier to carry. We hope that this list was helpful to you and you’ll use these skills to become a great project manager for your company.