What does it mean being a Project Manager? I have a personal position that being a Project Manager is not only leading projects. And this is not only performing the day-to-day duties in a role. This statement relates not only to the formal PMs, but to all the peeps who are acting on other edges of this craft, like Coordinators, Scrum Masters (Project Management Alternatives).
Being deep into all this, I believe we as PMs should live and feel this path. Therefore, being a Project Manager means not only doing mechanical work and having some relevant skills. When you are targeting to hit the best goals in your professional route, you need to be more than an executor. Along with having the necessary skills, we are to fairly demonstrate them, perform these qualities and show that we are great at them. When you enjoy your work and do it with passion, which gives even better engagement and motivation for others who join you.
And here we have come to the fancy topic. To make it simple and transparent, soft skills are exactly what I was talking about one paragraph ago. These are the personal qualities you are keeping within; continuously developing and applying to your field of expertise. Obviously, not only Project Managers should succeed in performing soft skills to make the collaborative work efficient. However, as Project Managers are giving the tone of work in the team, we are the essential reference point where it starts.
Project Management is also People Management; and people is the key engine of every project. Therefore, it is extremely and particularly important to stay within the project micro-society and to lead it along withperforming the technical work.
I have been outlining techniques we use for engaging the team here (
While managing projects, PMs need to efficiently collaborate, negotiate, engage, lead, cooperate with others. Thus, it is crucial for a PM to be able to efficiently and constructively perform these skills. And what is not less important, we need to be able to proactively resolve possible issues and conflicts.
Meaning, the work of a Project Manager should facilitate the project delivery process, not interfere it. The key criteria is a capability to communicate effectively and to lead others. PMs should be easy-going, engaging, reliable, motivational, flexible, proactive, be able to negotiate and meet the consensus. We need to make people want to work on the project, to participate and to contribute to the best possible outcome.
Project Management is about planning and organizing the delivery process. A PM is someone who is extremely detail oriented, precise and able to keep things under control. Sometimes we need to be wild checkers, otherwise it could be easy to make a mistake and screw up. And such mistakes could impact either scope, time or budget. Or all of these key performance indicators which we absolutely do not want on a project (Project Management KPIs).
Also, we need to be self-organized as otherwise it will be complicated to organize others. Moreover, if we are not able to plan for ourselves both tactically and strategically, how could we plan for expensive high-profile projects? Besides, it is important to pay special attention to the project related nuances, as they could impact the overall outcome.
And here we have come to forecasting and risk management skills.
Risks are something that can impact the project outcome either in a positive or negative way (How Risk Management Works). Therefore, we need to be able to see and forecast those risks. And to develop a strategy to respond and to mitigate them. In other words, as Project Managers we need to see the options and to suggest the solutions.
But how could we know what to suggest? It is about an ability to analyze information. And based on this analysis to develop the best suitable and appropriate solution. Analytical skills are crucial. Along with that, we need to be proficient in presentation, be able to sound the solution and state the one we feel is the most beneficial for the project.
We need to be able to fight with stress efficiently. On projects we are pushing the progress forwards through multiple obstacles. This could be missed deadlines; budget overruns; uncompleted scope; unsatisfied clients and team mates; low team performance and so on. Obviously this is not something that we welcome on projects. We need to avoid all these risks in any possible way. However, sooner or later it could happen. And we need to be ready to recover fast.
Having fails is not bad, but the critical skill is an ability to learn the lessons and be able to increase the efficiency through the obstacles. People who failed, but recovered, acknowledged the mistakes and continued moving forward are even better professionals than those who have never made mistakes before. This is how we earn the experience.
What is not least important is to have a knowledge of the Project Management domain and methodologies. As Project Managers we need to know what to do with all the management stuff in order to apply our soft skills timely and efficiently. Moreover, it is important to know the processes and the techniques which we can exploit for the efficient project delivery.
To this pool we put all the classical and modern practices that are currently utilized in the industry. Of course, we can be professionals in only one application field or in one methodology; but still it is important to maintain the awareness of the actual standards and flavors.
And to emphasize the value of the key skills, our technical knowledge will become even more efficient and productive in combination with the soft skills we raise.
To digest the objections I have put together in this article, I would like to finally summarize the Key Project Management Skills I have been chewing today. Cutting to the chase, into my Project Management Key Skill Set I have dropped:
Ability to plan
Ability to organize and Prioritize
Attention to details
Presentation and speech delivery skills
Ability to acknowledge mistakes
Ability to Learn
Ability to hit the goals through the obstacles
Knowledge of the project management domain
Knowledge of the project management methodologies
Let me know what you put in the list of the Key Project Management Skills?
About the Author:Kristina Kushner is a PMP-certified Project Manager. Having years of experience in Tech leading international and globally distributed teams now she shares her expertise through social media. She leads a blog and the Project Management Sandbox YouTube channel. Passionate about Project Management, these days besides the practice in the field, Kristina helps people to start a career in Tech without knowing how to code. Having a diverse background, she understands how challenging it can be to start a career in tech from scratch and with no guidance. Through being a true STEM ambassador her ambition is to help more people succeed in technology.