The work of a Project Manager (PM) requires planning and organizing, but above all, flexibility and vigilance. It is the ability to see early signs of impending change and to keep track of many changing circumstances simultaneously that can make the PM’s efforts successful.
Most useful project manager skills – table of contents:
- Universal skills in the work of the Project Manager
- Specialized skills of the Project Manager
- Myths about the role of the Project Manager
The optimal set of the Project Manager skills consists of universal ones, also called transferable skills, and specialized skills. Their proportion varies depending on the subject and size of the project being implemented. However, one thing remains constant. Project Managers use a wide range of skills every day. This is because their work is very diverse and allows them to face different challenges every day. One day it’s organizing and conducting a meeting with stakeholders, while the other it’s working out a detailed budget for the next milestone. So what skills are most favorable?
Universal skills in the work of the Project Manager
To look at the universal skills that come in handy when managing projects, imagine organizing moving house. To do it effectively we need to demonstrate our ability of:
- planning – to pack everything in the right order and to coincide the date of leaving one apartment with moving into a new place,
- organization – to make arrangements with the movers, the transportation team, and to properly label all boxes and boxes of stuff,
- cost management – to see already at the stage of thinking about the move whether we will be able to afford our dream property, how much it will cost to move and furnish the new place,
- cooperation with others – interpersonal skills in the case of moving house will be especially useful at the stage of convincing friends and family to help, and ease of communication will certainly make the process of moving possessions easier and more enjoyable.
The above list is the most fundamental base, which the Project Manager develops by performing daily duties and adding detailed skills to it. For example, for planning – familiarity with the software used to break down tasks and milestones in a project that is starting . And for collaborating with others – delegating tasks and ongoing moderation of team workflow.
Specialized skills of the Project Manager
In the work of the PM, in addition to universal planning, organization, management and collaboration, several specialized skills will come in handy. These include:
- flexibility, and
- recognizing and responding to change.
The ability to make decisions and take responsibility for them is closely related to the most important moments of the project life cycle , as well as to the leadership position that the Project Manager holds within the team.
Reporting, on the other hand, is a combination of communicating efficiently, organizing tasks and collaborating with others. An experienced PM knows how to prepare information intended for stakeholders, what to include in it, as well as how and how often to communicate with them.
Flexibility helps to create a communication style that suits the stakeholders of a project. It will also allow the Project Manager to adapt the ways of doing things to the team he or she is working with. For example, matching the frequency of meetings and the depth of discussion of completed tasks to the experience level of the team. However, the skill that can determine the success or failure of the PM is flexibility in the execution of tasks – including repetitive ones. It means taking into account current circumstances and being able to go beyond the schematic to achieve the expected results.
This skill is closely related to the last one – the difficult-to-train sensitivity to changes in the environment. Responding to change applies to almost all areas of a project. An example is adjusting the budget to changing prices – this then means spotting trends and taking advantage of them, as well as noting customers’ expectations and financial capabilities.
Myths about the role of the Project Manager
There are several myths associated with the role of the PM. Just look at its not-so-pleasant stereotypical image. For many, it’s an image of a smug young man who started his career very early. He perfectly understands every detail of the project, or at least is convinced of it, and mercilessly points out the stumbles of his colleagues.
Let’s take a closer look at this caricatured portrait and pay attention to three underlying myths.
Myth 1. The Project Manager has a lot of experience in the organization where he or she manages the project.
Myth 2. The Project Manager is perfectly familiar with all the issues involved in the project.
Myth 3. The Project Manager controls and improves the tasks performed by all team members.
Myth 1 is related to the belief that only a person with a lot of seniority can effectively manage projects. However, in many cases, even a novice employee who has developed transferable skills functional in project management can perform well in the role of an auxiliary Project Manager. This also applies to people who have gained experience in other organizations, as long as they know the right tools and methods needed to fit in as the PM.
Myth 2 combines the notion that the PM must know all the details of a project by heart, and has a well-established, expert knowledge of the project area. However, project details are stored by software, in a well-ordered form. The Project Manager’s job is to create and maintain this order and use the information. Expert knowledge, on the other hand, is held by team members. The PM will need extensive knowledge to set the general framework for how the project should proceed, and to ask the right questions.
Myth 3 is part of the stereotype in which the PM improves every detail of the tasks given to the team. Micromanagement is one of the mistakes of working with a team. However, it is not part of the PM’’s responsibilities!
Universal skills, or agility, are helpful in the work of a Project Manager:
- cost management, as well as
- working with people.
However, project manager skills are no less important, namely efficient decision-making, reporting skills, as well as flexibility and effective response to change.
Getting started with project management:
- What is a project?
- What is project management?
- How to manage projects?
- Project management methods
- Types of projects
- 4 examples of projects
- Prioritization of projects
- Areas of project activity
- Definition of success in project management
- Why use project management software?
- How to choose the best project management software?
- Overview of project management software
- Project life cycle
- What is the project vision for?
- Project goal. What is it and how to define it well?
- Project initiation phase - what to pay attention to?
- The domain of planning in project management
- What is a project schedule and what is it for?
- How to use milestones in a project?
- Project execution
- How to prepare a successful project contingency plan?
- Importance of project closure
- Project failure. 5 reasons why projects fail
- 4P of management: project, product, program and portfolio
- Most important tasks and responsibilities of the Project Manager
- Most useful project manager skills
- How to become a project manager?
- 5 books every project manager should read
- How to set up a project team?
- Work breakdown structure - how to delegate work in a project?
- How to lead a team during hybrid work?
- Challenges project managers face when working with a team