4 Essential skills for Project Managers

Every career has its core capabilities and skills requirements. It’s advisable for professionals in every domain to find ways and methods to harness their core competencies for productive purposes. This post would be examining the core skills every project manager should possess in order to excel. It’s important to state here that some of these skills are innate in some individuals. While others need to take extra effort to nurture these core skills. However, know that any skill can be learned so if you identify a skill on here that you don’t have, you don’t have to be bothered and NO, it doesn’t mean you can’t be an excellent Project Manager. You just have to learn and develop the skill.

Based on research and years of experience, I have identified the below as core skills every Project Manager should have to be successful. They are:

  • Communication

Communication

It is popularly known that as Project Managers 90% of what we do is communicate. Communication is a vital part of what you do because you have to ensure information regarding your project is shared with relevant stakeholders including team members.

You can never “over-communicate”. Research shows that you have to communicate a piece of particular information more than once. As Project Managers, we can say the same time over and over again in different ways. This avoids the possibility of a stakeholder saying they were not aware.

Communication also includes being able to prepare reports and presentations to share the project status or pass along project information. It also includes communicating project activities to team members including approved changes so that team members working on the project are kept up to date on project activities as well as reminded about activities they are responsible for.

Communication ensures everyone is aware and kept informed at the level each stakeholder requires. I would note that emotional intelligence is also vital to understand as it helps you become a super and emphatic communicator.

Listed below are some salient questions, you could constantly ask yourself as they would help you assess and develop your communication skills especially in the workplace.

  • Do you utilize the appropriate formal communication channels?
  • What’s your empathy level and is this evident in your communication strengths?
  • How about your non-verbal clues?
  • Do you respectfully communicate in your workplace by allowing others air their opinions without interrupting them?
  • Do you give their opinions a chance by asking relevant questions?
  • Are you time-conscious when communicating in your formal environment?
  • Do you avoid digressions?

Problem Solving

Project management is a field of human endeavor that involves a lot of complexities. As projects defer and the changing landscape makes it difficult to accurately predict a certain pattern. This is regardless of how long you’ve been in the business. This is why the ability to solve problems is a core skill for Project Managers.

Let’s face it, unexpected situations and scenarios arise at intervals in every organization globally. The pandemic has revealed to us that it’s possible to shut down the business world and life would still go on. Only savvy professionals who were able to reactively proffer solutions to their declining business revenue were able to make profits during this era.

The ability to quickly diversify to a more profitable venture during the pandemic is a real-world approach to solving problems. This is the kind of problem-solving skill you should possess as a project manager.

As a Project Manager, you are expected to be able to creatively solve situations that raise a risk or issue to your project. Your analytical game must be above par. This helps to weigh the pros and cons of every scenario.

Also, you must find ways to mitigate the risk of an error in any given situation. You should also note that you are a decision-maker. You ought to exude confidence in your ability to either halt a particular line of action or follow another. This is because the benefits of the new decision would outweigh the losses of the previous business decision.

People Skills

Being a people person is great but having the requisite skills to lead and influence people effectively and efficiently should be your goal as a project manager.

This skill set ought to be in your arsenal and it’ll help you build relationships and attain influential power at all levels which further enables you to deliver on your projects.

Without a doubt, your ability to influence people to carry out tasks or accomplish projects is a great skill to have. It’s best you have this skill to be able to encourage colleagues and stakeholders to come on board with changes including corrective or preventive actions that you may need to initiate during your project.

The twenty-first-century ideal workplace is designed to work in teams. You have the sole responsibility to lead various teams and groups. Most times, these individuals come from different backgrounds and have their own persona which might sometimes conflict. You need to understand how to manage these conflicts objectively.

Also, projects have various stakeholders (team members are a subset of your stakeholders). Stakeholders are individuals who can influence your project or whom your project can influence.

Stakeholders have different levels of power and interest in your project. Therefore, it is essential you understand what these levels are and how they can affect your project. Knowing this would help you effectively engage them to be champions or supporters of your project.

Effective stakeholder management would greatly help you to deliver your project as any flop in this area could lead to withdrawal of project funds or ultimately failure/an early closure of your project.

Technical Knowledge

This relates to the fundamental Project Management processes, principles, and methodologies required to deliver successful projects.

To effectively practice Project Management it’s important to know the foundational blocks and how to perform the various activities that Project Managers are required to perform.

Such activities include: Project Initiation, Planning the project, Directing and Managing the project work, Managing change, Monitoring and controlling the project work, and closing the project.

Also, knowledge of the various methodologies which can be used to develop your project is essential such as Predictive/waterfall, Agile, and hybrid.

As the world evolves, so does the Project economy. Therefore, it is continuous professional development to keep up with trends and new practices are vital for Project Managers.

You can continuously learn through various platforms including attending project management webinars, seminars and reading project management articles. It’s best to sharpen your technical skills regularly to avoid obsolescence as this can be hazardous to career growth and development.

One essential way to learn and develop your technical skills as a Project Manager is to take certification exams. One of such is the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam by PMI; a globally recognized certification and one of the most respected in the field.

As a result of the versatility and uniqueness of the project management industry. You are able to work in different industries.

You don’t have to be worried about having an in-depth business knowledge about an industry before you can manage projects in that industry. Most time, this can be learned on the job while working on the field and this is one of the benefits of having a project management career.

Project management is one of the careers for the future, hence it is vital to understand the core skills needed to thrive in this field.

In conclusion, remember that any skill can be learned. If you identify a skill on here that you don’t have, you don’t have to be bothered. NO, it doesn’t mean you can’t be an excellent Project Manager. You just have to learn and develop it.

Do you have zero to little Project Management experience and want to transition into a career in Project Management? Join the Project Management Launch Program. The program equips you with the work-ready skills and tools required to launch your Project Management career.


Wondering how to pass the PMP Exam? Get my FREE PMP Exam Checklist. It contains the 6 powerful tips that I used to prepare, study and pass the PMP Exam with an above target in all domains at my first attempt. It has been updated to align with the new version of the PMP exam.


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