Top 17 Program Management Skills to Excel in your Job

By | August 16, 2023
Program Management Skills
To succeed in a program management position, you need to develop certain skills and qualities.

Top 17 Program Management Skills to Excel in your Job

This post provides the major skills and qualities you need to have to be an effective program manager.

Please, continue reading:

The role of a program manager is to organize or coordinate projects in an organization. So, it is safe to say that the work or job of a project manager is more or less similar to project management.

He/she works with his/her team to make sure projects are planned and executed as expected.

Who is a Program Manager?

A program manager is someone hired and paid to coordinate, organize, and execute the projects of an organization.

A program manager makes decisions and determines the best ways to manage projects in the organization to produce the desired goals of the organization.

This post presents major skills and qualities to help you remain relevant in your job as a program manager:

  1. Good Communication Skills

To be able to manage a program demands that you need good communication skills. Communication is very important to the success of any organization both collectively and individually.

The role of communication is to establish mutual understanding in the workplace.

As a program manager, you have to understand the importance of communication in the workplace as this is capable of making your job easier.

Ignoring this will breed misinterpretations and misconceptions in the workplace. To avoid this, know the basics of good communication skills and work with them daily.

Two sets of people you will need to communicate well with are the top management and your team.

Communicate well with them to know the progress you are making in your job and what their opinion is at every given time.

Also, you need to communicate with your team to make sure they are abiding with the basics of the job. This is part of your supervisory skills as a program manager.

2. Teamwork

You have a team either created by the organization for you to work with or a team you created by yourself.

This team will determine your speed of action and how timely you can deliver your job in the workplace. You have to select the best personnel to be able to achieve your target.

Though the leader of the team, you need to understand that your success is largely dependent on how capable you are in managing your team.

So, this is a skill to be desired in the workplace if you must succeed as a program manager.

Drill your team and find a way to keep your team motivated most of the time. You have to be a team leader and at the same time a team player.

You need to get the best out of your team in order to get their maximum input and out. Don’t try to show superiority at the detriment of your job.

3. Problem Solving Skills

Your job is not void of challenges. It is part of what you experience as a program manager. In fact, those problems or challenges are the reasons why your expertise is needed.

So, it is not something to dread but a challenge to prove your worth in your job.

Your problem solving skills can be the determining factor for your employer to rate your importance and expertise in the workplace.

So you have to live up to expectations for your employer to enjoy your expertise. Trying to shy away from challenges in your job is never an option to be considered.

To be a problem solver, you need to increase your mental capacity and also keep in touch with the latest practices related to your job.

New developments bring with them new problems. To be able to solve these problems, you have to improve yourself mentally and get in touch with the latest practices related to your job.

4. Conflict Resolution Skills

As an extension of the point explained above, one of the problems a program manager needs to know about is the conflict arising from the workplace.

You have to watch out for this and prepare yourself to handle them when they come.

Conflicts can come from the management when they seem not to agree with your own point of view as to what should be done in the workplace.

So, you need to find a way to find a common ground to share your ideas as well as understand their point of view and harmonize everything.

Secondly, conflicts may arise from your team too. One or two persons might not be in total agreement about certain issues.

You have to be skilled enough to handle conflicts in this scenario. Understand the root of the disagreement and work towards resolving it before it becomes a full blown crisis.

5. Ability to Adapt to Change

As we all know, one thing that is constant is change. Anticipate change no matter the form in which it comes.

You can’t run away from changes. You have to embrace and do your utmost best to adjust and adapt to imminent changes in your job.

What shows your professionalism is how to find your way out of every difficult change. No doubt, that change can be somehow difficult to come to terms with but you have to develop that ability to adapt to the change that takes place in your workplace.

One thing is to understand that change is actually not a stumbling block but a platform presented to you as a program manager to improve your skills and increase your wealth of experience.

When these changes come, you have to reinvent yourself to be able to cope. By this, we mean learning skills that will help you cope with the changes.

6. Risk Management Skills

Risk management skill is definitely needed if you want to succeed in your job as project manager.

Every job comes with its own risk and these risks must be managed expertly in order not to be at the losing end of the risk.

Basic understanding of this truth is what can help you succeed in your job.

Also, some risks may not be totally avoidable, but part of your job is to make sure that these risks are kept at minimum level.

Study the risks involved in your job and know what it will take to reduce the devastating effects of some of these risks.

Program managers are risk takers as well as risk managers. This is a true assertion because your job demands that you make decisions based on what you know, but sometimes impulse and sheer trial and error can come into play in your job.

So, your duty is to make sure that the risks taken are calculated risks and have plan B in case plan A does not work.

7. Leadership Skills

You need to have good leadership skills to succeed as a program management. As stated earlier on, the strength of your team goes a long way in determining how far you as the manager can go in your job.

This is true because you don’t and can’t work alone in this job.

The strength of your team will be determined by your level of leadership abilities. You have to be a leader to your team and not just walk around doing nothing to inspire your team.

You have to take the bull by the horn and show your team members what the job is all about.

Your leadership skills have to be seen in all ramifications. Your team wants to learn from you. You have to be their number one coach, as well as their number one motivator. Failure to know this can disorganize your team contrary to your expectations.

8. Benefit Driven

This is a two sided point to discuss. Firstly, understand that the purpose of every business establishment is to make maximum profit.

Anything short of that is not part of the intention of the owner of the business. So, your job must have this in view always.

Secondly, you have to define what your benefits are. This is what will help you give your best because you have your eyes fixed on the reward.

This will be selfishness in itself if you don’t deliver the benefit of your team. Apart from the money paid to them for their effort, what else do they stand to gain by working with you in your job?

Their welfare and their benefits should be part of your concern. This is one way to keep your team motivated.

9. Personal Vision

Your benefit is largely dependent on your performance as a program manager. And the beginning of your good performance is your personal vision.

This vision may be to be the best in your job compared to other competitors or any other thing that gives you motivation in your job.

This personal vision should be a good factor to keep you motivated in your job. Your vision should make you to set targets and goals.

This goal when achieved will definitely give you that good feeling, as well as prepare you for higher tasks.

Again, your personal vision should be realistic enough so that you don’t put yourself in a situation where you feel that you are a disappointment to your job.

Also, your personal vision should not be in sharp contrast to the vision of the organization.

10. Effective Interpersonal Relationship

Your relationship with people in the workplace is very important to your success as a program manager.

You need to communicate effectively and establish a working relationship with as many people in the organization as possible.

Empathy is one of the things that can help you establish a good interpersonal relationship with people in the workplace.

You need to as much as you can put yourself in the shoes of your team members and know what they feel about the job.

Also, you don’t use your influence in your workplace to demean the job of the people working with you.

You have to make sure your relationship with them is working well and there’s mutual understanding between you and the people in your workplace.

11. Decision Making

Generally speaking, one of the jobs carved out for managers i is the issue of decision making.

So, it is one thing you cannot run away from as a program manager. You are saddled with the duty of making decisions within your capacity no matter how small or insignificant those decisions may seem.

You decide how activities are carried out in line with your job description. You think of better ways activities can also be carried out. You have loads of decisions to make so be prepared mentally to handle this aspect of your job. Be ready always.

One of your biggest jobs in decision making as a program manager is to decide what is best for the business you are in charge of.

This is not an easy task in any way but it must be done. This does not involve guess work but absolute expertise on your part.

12. Time Management

Time they say is money. The world is on the move every day. Everybody wants to save time no matter how little.

As a manager, to have a good reputation, you need to have time saving skills. You have to make most from the little time that you have.

Clients out there and even your employers don’t really care how you want to do it, but you must work with time made available to you.

One good thing that will help you save time is proper planning. If you want to manage your time well then you should be able to plan your activities well enough to accommodate all activities and when they should be executed.

13. Managing Expectations

There are expectations on your shoulder as a program manager in your workplace. These expectations come from the higher hierarchy, the customers, and the members of your team.

This is the reality of your job as a program manager.

The expectations on your shoulders are the standard set out for you. You have to put this in mind so that you will know what is expected of you and how you can organize yourself and your team to meet up with the expectation set out for you and your team.

However, you have to be realistic and accept what you can do. Take up a job that suit your level of expertise and not be too lofty in your mind.

Sometimes, you just have to be sincere with yourself and your employers. This is because employers may not know your capabilities.

14. Business Acumen

How much do you know about business? First you need to understand that whatever you do that is capable of generating income is a business no matter how big or small it is.

So, your job insinuates that you are doing business though you are doing it for someone.

Since your job is a business, then it demands that you have good knowledge of business operations.

You have to handle your job like a business and not just what you do to pass time. You have to know the basics of your job, seeing it from the business point of view.

Having knowledge of business management is the way to go even as a program manager.

You need to have that business knowledge to be able to succeed in your job.

Add this to your CV and you stand a better chance of landing a good job as a program manager, or better still excel in the one you have at hand.

15. IT Knowledge

You don’t need to be told that having some knowledge of IT is important to your job or career as a program manager.

You should know that technology is the way to go in this business era. You have to upgrade yourself from analog method of doing things to digital.

You have to get yourself acquainted with the use of computer and other digital devices. These devices help make your job easier as a program manager.

So, to experience some level of ease in your job, you have to learn how to use the computer or have at least a proficient knowledge of computers.

Technology makes work easier and faster, shying away from the use of IT gadgets amounts to shooting yourself in the foot as long as your job is concerned.

You need to learn some applications necessary for anyone handling your type of job description.

16. Self-motivation

In your job, you need a lot of motivation. It is true that nothing motivates an employee more than getting his/her pay as at when due.
But beyond your pay, something should be able to motivate you more. This is what we call self-motivation.

Self-motivation is not dependent on what the organization is willing to pay you.

Self-motivation is a product of your personal vision. Your vision and personal ambition should motivate you more than what your company is willing to pay at the moment.

Grab the experience and the expertise and create a niche for yourself, and in no time, your company will have no choice than to pay you heavily for your expertise if they must keep you.

17. Effective Planning

If you can plan very well then nothing can stop you from achieving your goals. It is not enough to have personal ambition, but your ability to plan your way to the top is one way to remain relevant.

When you fail to plan, then your goals will become unrealistic.

One of the things you will have in mind to plan about is your line up of activities. You have to make sure that whatever is done has been planned for and must be followed strictly to the letter.

This is what effective planning is all about.

Your job is more or less a project work and has to be planned accurately to meet up with the demands of the workplace.

You have to divide your job into stages and handle each state one at a time.

Trying to do your job holistically can sometime be tedious and strenuous, and to an extent discouraging.

You need to break your tasks up into bits and handle each bit separately.

Program Management Skills for Resume

If you are writing a resume for the program manager position, you can make it more impactful on recruiters by creating a compelling skills or competence section.

This section tells the employer the skills and qualities you are coming with that will enable you to excel in the program management position that you are applying for.

You can apply the above program management skills and qualities in making a captivating core competence section for your resume.


The job of a program manager is one that demands a lot of expertise and skills to excel on the job and build a successful career.

This article has been able to address the various skills and qualities you need to have as a program manager to be effective in carrying out the functions of the role and have a successful career.