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From the Archives: Our Top Article from 2015 – 10 Must Have Skills for the Project Manager

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in September 2015 and proved to be the most read article of the year!  Contributor Helen Sabell offers some great insight as to the top skills of a Project Manager.

10 Must Have Skills for a Project Manager

You may be entering the job market, either for the first time or to make an exciting new career change or looking to learn project management online. If you are looking to enter a career in project management, you will probably be wondering how to make your project manager CV stand out.

As project managers, you have to maintain a view of the “big picture” and guide the project to success, whilst handling the day-to-day tasks, and dealing with any crises that may arise. So, what are the most important qualities of an effective project manager?

1.     Business Strategy

A career in project management requires you to not only be responsive to change, you need to see it coming. Project management is a fast paced business and is constantly shifting to the markets demands. Project managers will need to understand business strategy so they can anticipate market changes and be prepared when they strike.

2.     Risk Assessment and Management

During this economic climate, businesses cannot afford to make any unnecessary risks or suffer project failure. You must have the ability to positively calculate an adequate amount of risk, as well as assess and manage threats, and also opportunities to your projects to achieve the best outcome in the quickest amount of time.

3.     Conflict Management

Conflict management is tough and can be brutal, it is not enjoyable for anyone involved. People will always get into disagreements on projects, and this needs to be resolved. Conflict management is about understanding the disagreement, setting up meetings to discuss each side’s viewpoints and both sides agreeing to a solution that can allow the project to progress.

Related article: Top 10 Articles for 2015

4.     Resource Management

As companies handle increasingly complicated markets, their business strategies and the projects to implement them are becoming much larger and more complex. Complex projects usually mean larger teams to manage, more resources to coordinate and more stakeholders to please.

5.     Time Management

As a project manager, you are probably handling numerous tasks and situations at any given time. Your time management and your ability to organise yourself and other are critically important. Time management is more than allocating a certain amount of time to certain jobs. You must be able to analyse what you are spending your time on and how important those tasks are to successfully completing the project. Your primary role is to do the strategic planning, overall monitoring and be creative and innovative at solving problems.

6.     Highly Organised And A Good Multi-Tasker

A good project manager knows how to manage multiple projects or tasks and record and solve issues on a day to day basis. One of the main differences between the success or failure of a project is usually the difference between a project manager who is highly organised and one who is not. Project management is all about the details. You must be highly conscientious about managing every detail of every project and also the possible impacts each detail may have on the overall success of the project. Remember it is even the little details that can make or break a project.

7.     A Natural Leader

It is crucial for project managers to be great leaders. Project management requires leading stakeholders and clients to a successful result. Effective project managers aspire and motivate towards a better tomorrow and inspire confidence in their team’s abilities to realise and withhold that vision. A great project manager is often described as having a vision of where to go and the ability to articulate it. Good visionary leaders allow people to feel they have a real stake in the project, they empower people to experience the vision on their own. It is also essential to build relationships with key clients to ensure alignment to the project’s targets and radiate the confidence necessary to hold everyone participating in the project responsible.

8.     Enthusiasm

No one likes a leader who is negative, they bring themselves and everyone around them down. People want leaders who are enthusiastic with a can-do attitude. People tend to follow people with a positive attitude. Enthusiastic leaders are committed to their goals and express this through optimism. Good leaderships develops as someone expresses confident and commitment to a project that others want to share this optimistic expectation. Enthusiasm is contagious.

9.     Communication

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Communication skills are one of the most crucial skills every project manager should have. You may possess other skills that will help make you a great project managers but these are useless if you cannot communicate well with your stakeholders and team members. You will be needed to schedule meetings to resolve any issues, delegate risks and problems to relevant individuals once they occur, update senior management on project progress and listen to and understand your stakeholders and team members. Ensure all stakeholders understand what is expected of them throughout the project, and that they communicate effectively with one another as well as yourself. Project managers need to communicate status changes, good news and bad news to all staff and senior management. For instance, a slight scheduling delay may only need to be communicated to internal teams but not to the client if it does not affect the client’s review dates.

10.  Problem-Solving and Technical Skills

Inevitably, there will be times when problems and obstacles may arise that will require immediate attention and solutions. How a project manager handles these particular situations will determine their success and make them stand out from the rest. A good project manager needs to have a solid knowledge of software, platforms and programmes that your company regularly work with. This allows you to be able to understand areas of the project and able to assign themselves some tasks. By assigning yourself tasks and successfully completing those tasks on time will help you gain the respect you require to successfully manage a team. 

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