Top 18 Project Management Skills to be Best in your Career
If you are in the project management career, you need to develop certain skills and qualities to be effective in your job.
This post provides valuable skills and qualities you need to have to be a top performer in your project management position. So, continue reading to learn about them, but first:
What is Project Management?
Project management is the application of relevant knowledge, skills, and techniques or methods to project activities to meet up with the project requirements.
Project management skills and qualities are highly needed in the construction industry, film industry, marketplace businesses, banking industry, and also the music industry to meet project requirements and goals.
This article provides detailed explanation of the requisite skills and qualities needed by project manager in order to stay top in his/her job.
18 Project Management Skills to Stay Top on your Job
The role of leadership in project management cannot be overlooked. For a project to be successful, leadership makes it possible.
How you handle members of your team while carrying out a project can go a long way in determining when the project will be completed, and the quality of work that will be produced.
To be a successful project manager, you should be able to work with your team and instill in them the right culture and mindset that will help the team achieve its goal.
Human beings are radical in nature and difficult to control sometimes, but your ability to get around their natural inclination and get the best out of them is what is known as leadership skills.
Leadership is not all about marshaling out orders, but setting an example. To lead a project team as a leader demands that you think well ahead of the team while not neglecting their ideas.
A leader is daring, bold, confident, and influential, no doubt, leadership is a requisite skill to have in project management.
2. Effective Communication
Project is a team work and demands the best from every member of the team. One of the ways to get the best out of a team is through effective communication.
You cannot leave out this skill in project management. It is through effective communication that proper orientation is given to every team member on their roles in the project, and how to go about it.
Poor communication in project management can lead to the failure or delay in the completion of the project.
Communication is used to ascertain the progress of a project, and also used as a tool for good appraisal of the project. Effective communication among member of a team can increase the bond in the team.
Also, effective communication helps members of a project team learn from each other.
When you see a team member doing extremely well in his/her role, through communication, you can learn and improve on yourself. Communication is the cord that binds a project team together.
3. Team Management
Team management entails bringing out the best in a team. It is the job of the manager to bring out the best in his team.
To do this, the project manager should be able to know the strength of each member of his/her team, as well as their weaknesses.
Playing to their strength will bring out their best and ignoring their weaknesses can bring the downfall of the project.
The project manager should be able to assign duties or roles to members of his/her team in areas of their strength, and not do so out of sentiment.
Who the cap fits should wear it. Due to shortage of capable hands, a project manager might be tempted to make overlapping efforts in the course of the project, however, let it be with the consent of the member and not out of compulsion, else the member won’t produce his/her best.
Managing a team can also entail managing the different cultural background of team members.
Certainly, every project manager is faced with the problem of how to control and communicate with members from different cultural backgrounds, race, color, and orientation.
A good team management skill will help you to effectively handle these challenges.
To be a successful project manager, negotiation is a good skill to consider having.
Negotiation can be done to get the best in every situation. Be it within the team or with clients out there, good negotiation skill is important in getting the best deal you can desire as a project manager.
Now, remember that project management is a business venture and the sole aim of every business venture is to maximize profit.
You should be able to convince your clients to give you a good pay check based on your perceived expertise. Your ability to convince them gives you a greater chance of getting what you want.
Also, negotiation with your team members on the terms and conditions of the project can help you have a hitch-free project execution as you will be able to reach logical conclusions on issues regarding pay and roles to be played by each member of the team.
Note: to get the best deals from clients, it is highly dependent of your skill level. An amateur cannot hope to get the type of deal an expert gets though both are in the same industry.
So, to improve your negotiating power, be sure to upgrade your knowledge and expertise always.
5. Personal Evaluation
A good project manager should be able to carry out personal evaluation, which is a sure way to improve yourself. This evaluation should be done all through the time of the execution of the project to know where you are doing well and where you are not producing your best. Self-evaluation is the best.
When evaluating yourself, you need to ask yourself some questions like:
“Am I still in line to achieving my goal?”
“Am I time conscious?”
“Am I disciplined in this project?”
“How is my relationship with members of my team and what is their thought about me recently?”
These and some other questions are good questions for personal evaluation.
When carrying out a personal evaluation, try to compare your accomplishments in the past with what you have achieved recently.
Are you going down in your job or are the results of the recent projects better than those of the past ones?
If you can answer the above questions, then you can make corrections and avoid a repeat of the pitfalls in the future.
6. Risk Management
Risk management is one daunting job an individual involved in project management has to handle in every project.
Each project comes with its risk peculiar to it. So a good project manager should be able to manage risk.
Risks abound and some risks cannot be avoided, but good risk management efforts can reduce their effects.
Risk management can connote taking calculated risk rather than not taking risks at all.
Calculated risks are risks taken with plan B in place in case plan A didn’t work out as planned.
When planning to execute certain projects, some eventualities cannot be ascertained at the time of planning.
It is therefore the duty of a good project manager to create a plan B in order to complete the project if plan A fails.
Also, risk management minimizes the damages caused by unplanned events. This is done through proper placement of mechanisms to help cushion the risks associated with carrying out some projects.
These mechanisms are set in place to reduce damages.
Example: In a building site, new technologies are used in mixing cement with sand and lifts are used to transport mixed cement with sand up to the top.
Now, this mechanism has helped to reduce stress and the risk of fast burnout among the laborers.
Risk management cannot be done without in project management.
When carrying out projects, scheduling skills are employed to execute the project in stages.
Scheduling can help avoid wastage and minimize cost, and also give time for appraisal.
A good project manager should be able to schedule the various parts of the project to ensure the project is delivered at the stipulated time.
A project should be executed in stages before being completed.
When jobs are scheduled, it helps to plan properly for each stage of the project and produce the best in the project.
Project management becomes easier when jobs are planned and scheduled rather than doing things in disorderly fashion due to poor planning and scheduling.
Scheduling helps a project manager to get the best hands to handle each stage because it has been planned and put through proper consideration before execution.
When the best hands are given the job, you can expect an excellent project at the end of the day. And that in turn increases your negotiating power as a project manager.
8. Analytical Thinking
Challenges are bound to occur while executing a project. Funny enough some of the solutions to these problems might just require a little consideration of some factors.
Analytical thinking should be a skill everyone involved in project management should have. Thinking solves a lot of problem.
When thinking, it is necessary not to rule out any idea at the initial stage, rather consider all possibilities and compare with what is obtainable now.
Be open-minded to ideas no matter how stupid or irrelevant they may appear. This is certain to give you solutions to what you are looking for.
To be an analytical thinker, learn to spend time alone to deliberate and ruminate over matters arising in the course of executing the project.
Taking a little time off to think about things can be helpful in this circumstance, but don’t take too much time in order not to affect the completion of the project.
A good project manager that wants to stay on top in his/her industry should be accountable. This is to say that at every stage of project, he/she should be able to relate with his/her clients, as well as with his/her team on what has been done so far in the project, money spent etc.
This helps to build the confidence of the team and make them follow him/her through in the project. Never leave your team in the dark.
Accountability gives room for proper appraisal and analysis of challenges encountered in the course of executing the project.
In the first place, the major reason for accountability is to retain integrity, and second, for appraisal purpose.
If a project keeps his/her team in the dark, then they are likely to assume so many things, which may not be correct.
With accountability, a manager can properly carry out appraisal on the members of the team on where improvement is needed.
Also, accountability will help a project manager to know if the team is in line to completing the project before the deadline.
So accountability is a key criterion to being a good project manager.
10. Quality Control
It is the duty of the project manager to make sure the output of his team remains high always. This is done through thorough supervision and motivation. A good project manager must be able to demand the best from his/her team throughout the time of the execution of any given project.
Team management helps in this context. The project manager must be able to make sure that his/her team’s performance matches what is expected.
And like it was stated earlier, duties should be assigned based on ability and not sentiment or compulsion. This can reduce the quality output by the team members.
The consequences of reduction in quality is damning and devastating. You lose negotiation power, and by that you can go down the pecking order in the industry.
Remember, in any industry you find yourself, quality is always the key to getting more patronage.
11. Time Management
Every project assigned to a manager is time bound. So the individual should be able to deliver his/her job within stipulated time.
This is no mean feat for a project manager, considering a lot of factors like weather and different input and output of team members. It can be a tricky situation.
However, understand that clients don’t care about how you will get around those challenges. It is your duty!
So work with the time given and develop the capacity to deal with challenges and still deliver an excellent project within the given time frame.
Failure to do this can be seen as incompetence by the client.
To meet project deadline, the project team leader or manager should be able to cut out excessive and irrelevant activities that may consume time within his/her team.
All manner of seriousness and attention should be paid to the job at hand and not on irrelevant meetings and discussions.
A good project manager can never do without having coaching skills. He/she is the coach to his/her team.
So, this demands that the project manager should be more knowledgeable and have the minimum skills in all aspects of the project.
This may sound ludicrous, but it’s true. When the project manager understands the basics of every part of the project, it will help him/her to know how to coach his/her team in order to produce their best in the project.
Being a coach is not a matter of position but a matter of knowledge. To be an effective coach, the project manager should be able to garner more state of the art knowledge about the project and instill it into his/her team for effective execution of the project.
If the project leader lacks knowledge of the basic skills in the project, it goes a long way to affecting the performance of the team, and this will directly affect the total quality of the project.
Understanding the basics of the various aspects of a project can help the manager know what difficulties his/her team are likely to face in their various roles.
Being a project manager is more of knowledge and position; it entails experience gathered from handling successful and unsuccessful projects in the past.
Yes! Unsuccessful projects also contribute to an extent the experience a project manager acquires.
Top project managers are people with high level knowledge and skills in their project management field.
They are not novices. Experience plays a key role in project management. Experienced project managers are more likely to deliver a more excellent project, and in good time, than their amateur counterparts.
An experienced project manager is also more likely to manage risks than his/her amateur counterparts.
Experience is important in managing cost and other militating factors in the course of executing a project.
If an inexperienced project manager is given a project to handle, one thing may prevail, and that is inability to effectively manage risks.
Self-management is a special skill every project manager needs to have in order to succeed in his/her job.
This is important because you can’t instill in your team what you are not capable of doing yourself.
Self-management helps you keep yourself updated in contemporary skills you need to be a successful project manager.
A project manager is a coach, and to be a good coach, you have to be more knowledgeable than the people you are coaching.
This is not debatable in any way.
To be a good coach to your team, you need to improve your skills regularly to avoid mistakes while discharging your duties.
Self-management keeps you competitive in the industry, it will definitely keep you at the top of the chart in your industry, reason been that the business world is a competitive world and only the competitive can survive it.
This is the ability to adapt to new situations and environments. Flexibility is needful for anyone aspiring to be a successful project manager.
As earlier stated, situations change and government policies regarding any industry can also change.
So, the ability to cope with changes in the industry and adapt to them makes you a flexible project manager.
Flexibility is a requisite quality to have because the world is changing all around us and only the flexible can adapt to these changes.
A good project manager prepares for change and this can only happen if he/she forms the habit of predicting and preparing for the changes before they come.
Failure to adapt to these changes can put you out of business.
Also, the project manager can get around adverse changes through the formation of plan B during planning.
Sometimes, it is good to predict bad changes and plan on how to tackle them if they occur.
This comes as a product of foresight and not mere assumption.
Sometimes, the project manager should relate past and present events and draw conclusions, and with that he/she can predict to an extent what future changes might look like.
Creativity gives you more leverage in delivering a more excellent project. Remember there are competitors everywhere who can do exactly the same thing you are doing as a project manager.
What then can give you an edge over them? The answer is simple; Creativity.
The big wigs in major industries in the business world are people who are capable of creating something out of nothing.
They think what others don’t think. They think of different ways to do one thing and in the process come across more excellent methods than others.
Creativity is therefore key!
What puts many people out of business or renders their services stale is their lack of creativity.
A project manager should be able to think of creative ways to deliver a more excellent project more than what is obtainable from other competitors.
Creativity keeps a project manager ahead of his competitors.
17. Cost Management
Managing cost is a good skill any project management can have. Sometimes, contracts are won on the basis of cost management.
To be able to stay top in project management, a leader needs to learn to cut cost and still deliver an excellent project.
Again, it can be a deciding factor in the award of projects.
To manage cost is not easy, but a necessary skill to have as a project manager. To cut costs means minimizing the cost of factors in the project and still deliver a good project.
Cheaper but quality alternatives are available to use against costly materials that solve the same problem as the alternative.
Even the cost of running a project can be reviewed by a project manager during the period of planning.
During planning, factors in the project are placed on the scale of relative importance and budget at hand.
The ability to effectively manage cost is a key tool for landing a good project from clients.
18. Planning Skills
Failure to plan is a plan to fail. This is an age long adage, which is true and applies to any sphere of life.
It is necessary to plan a project before embarking on it as failure to do this will definitely increase the cost of executing the project and lead to a lot of wastage and finally increase risks in the project.
There are two kind of planning: Batch Planning and General Planning.
Batch Planning helps planning a project in batches; it involves planning plans for project based on the batches it is to be executed.
In Batch Planning, the project is divided into batches and plans are made for the various batches and executed accordingly.
In this method of planning, the project manager, with his/her team, discusses all factors necessary to complete each batch and work on them.
General planning involves planning for the project as a whole. This is more complex and tasking than Batch Planning.
Reason been that the project appears to be more cumbersome and tasking to plan, and estimations can be wrong if proper time is not given to make research and determine the cost of each factor in the project.
Project Management Skills for Resume
If you are making a resume for a project management position, you can make the skills or core competence section by applying the skills and qualities provided above if you have them.
The project management skills and qualities above are what most recruiters want the candidates they are interested in hiring for the role to have, so if you have them in your resume will make it more attractive to recruiters, which will increase your chances of being hired.
The business world is competitive. So to stay afloat and relevant demands some specials qualities and skills sets that can pummel one to the top. In project management, this is not an exception either.
This article has been able to explain the various project management qualities and skill sets needed by project team leaders and managers to stay top in their job.