Anyone who has been a project manager for any amount of time can tell you that the job requires you to wear many hats. You are a manager, task coordinator, salesperson of ideas, booster of morale, and manager of conflicts. And that’s just when you’re interacting with others!
Developing and maintaining the technical and soft skills needed to be a project manager isn’t easy, but knowing where to start can make all the difference. So what skills are essential for you to succeed as a PM? Here are a few to work on today.
Communication is the number one skill all project managers need. Setting clear expectations and keeping people accountable are essential to meet timelines and have high-quality deliverables.
However, that doesn’t mean you need to micromanage or be a taskmaster. Having compassion and emotional intelligence is also important. Identifying how someone is feeling and responding appropriately in the work context will help you motivate team members and keep your project moving forward.
Communication has become especially important as more teams have moved to remote work. So if your written communication skills needs to be sharpened for effective Project Management, now is the time!
Planning and Forecasting
Creating a project plan and estimating both time and costs are central to every successful project. If you want to grow as a project manager, you’ll want to develop a skill to plan and forecast.
In today’s data-driven world, that will probably mean learning to understand and analyze large amounts of data. Having all of the information you need at your fingertips will allow you to set up and manage each project’s, service’s, or product’s lifecycle.
Of course, even the best-set plans go awry. Adjusting your plans and updating forecasts as things change will help you go from a good project manager to a truly great one.
You might think risk management is the focus of a department like safety or engineering, but the truth is that every project also has risks. For instance, maybe a key team member will leave during the project. Or you might not have access to a resource when you need it.
When you can identify potential risks and plan what to do if they occur, you’ll be more successful with your project planning. Whether it’s a stakeholder on vacation or delayed approval from the client, it’s essential to anticipate and plan ways to work around potential problems.
Bouncing Back From Mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes; the difference that determines success is whether you learn from them or let them drag you down. It’s common for project managers to make mistakes that range from missed communication to allowing scope creep.
One of the best skills you can develop is the ability to bounce back after an error, even one that derails a project. Learn from what happened and determine what you can do better next time. Remember, no one is perfect in the beginning — it takes experience and practice to grow.
A lost project or major miscommunication isn’t the end of your career. Instead, it’s the beginning of you being a far better project manager than you were before.
There’s no end to the project management tools available, and understanding software and other technology is an essential part of being a successful project manager. Learning and adapting to new tools and technologies takes time, but being flexible and continuously learning will allow you to succeed.
As more teams work remotely, you’ll also need to understand how to use remote communication skills, keep your data safe, and encourage proper technology security practices on your team. When you take full advantage of the technology available, you’ll increase your team’s ability to complete projects quickly and effectively.
A project manager has to continually be open to new experiences and new tools to be successful in their career.
Can you see where costs start to go over and rein them in before it’s too late? If so, you have excellent budget management skills. Most projects go beyond the scheduled time or budget — often both.
As a project manager, you need to be able to estimate the budget of each project accurately and then make decisions to keep your team on track. Deciding what to use the funding on and where you don’t need to invest is vital if you want to stay within the stakeholders’ parameters.
This requires a lot of creativity as well. For example, sometimes you can repurpose a resource or borrow someone within your organization to avoid spending extra money.
As with all other skills, this is something that takes practice to master. Over time, however, you’ll learn how to anticipate overruns and react accordingly.
Become an Excellent Project Manager
No one is born with all of the skills to be an excellent project manager, so don’t let this list overwhelm you. Instead, choose one or two of these abilities and start to practice. You might enjoy articles or books about the topics, and you can focus on them during your next few projects. Over time, you’ll develop all of the skills you need to excel. Good luck as you continue to build your career!