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10 Essential Skills for a Project Manager

Three people sat around a table.

‘Project manager’ is a broad job title used to describe an individual who is responsible for planning and overseeing projects, and ensuring they are completed within certain time and budget constraints.

What are the key skills required for a Project Manager

A project manager should act as a liaison between a team of workers and company stakeholders, providing a direct line of communication and ensuring everyone in a given company is aware of the goals and vision for a certain task or project.

A project manager can work in a variety of industries and across multiple verticals at once, including, but not limited to: HR, IT, construction, business development and marketing.

The role of the Project Manager is essential for businesses and the demand to pursue this career path has surged in recent years. The following article will discuss the core skills required for a project manager and the ability levels needed.

What does a Project Manager do?

The main roles and responsibilities of a Project Manager include:

  • Planning projects and taking them all the way through to implementation
  • Mapping out timelines to ensure projects are completed on time
  • Managing project budget
  • Conducting project risk assessments
  • Coordinating each stage of the project lifecycle
  • Communicating with internal and external stakeholders
  • Solving potential problems with innovative solutions
  • Delivering an end product to meet specifications

Key Skills Required for a Project Manager

To become a Project Manager and successfully carry out these responsibilities, you will require certain knowledge, skills and abilities, including both soft and hard skills. These include:

  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Organisation
  • Risk Management
  • Critical Thinking
  • Negotiation
  • Coaching
  • Task Management
  • Quality Management
  • Interpersonal skill

1. Leadership

This is a crucial ability for a project manager position – the power to lead a team and coordinate dozens of workers spanning across different sectors of a given business is extremely important for the role, which helps to maximize efficiency and achieve goals within a timely matter.

A natural leader and good project manager should be able motivate a team through strong human relations and direct communications.

2. Communication

It is important to show effective communication as a project manager to connect with stakeholders and team members.

Connecting with stakeholders and team members is a significant aspect of project management, and a good project manager must be able to speak confidently and have a natural ability to communicate complicated information in a direct and understandable way. This can be achieved through reporting tools, newsletters, file sharing, intranet, face-to-face meetings or online conferencing.

Clear communication also helps to negate misunderstanding and create clarity of thoughts and expression, bringing employees closer together.

3. Organisation

The key skills for project management associated with organisation include time management and scheduling, as they both help deliver projects most efficiently. Making good use of time and staying on top of basic tasks can be the difference between a successful project and a failure.

4. Risk Management

A project manager may face certain difficulties when projects become more complex and unique, and risk management is a key skill to tackling these challenges and controlling the risk.

A key understanding of statistical and data analysis can be crucial in allowing a project manager to anticipate, and eventually mitigate, certain risks.

5. Critical Thinking

Being decisive and analytical is also of great importance. This skill can be built through experience, and a good project manager will be able to oversee an entire project without bias and make decisions based on logic, not emotion.

6. Negotiation

In business, negotiation skills are important in both informal day-to-day interactions and formal transactions between external sellers, third-party providers, and distributors, for example.

Strong negotiation skills is integral to driving costs down and improving the quality of a given task on a shoestring budget. Some of the best negotiators are invaluable to the company they work for due to the money they save and relationships they build.

7. Coaching

Skills in coaching will help improve team skills, performance and engagement levels, whilst also building self-confidence and increasing productivity overall. These are all crucial aspects to the success of a project.

8. Task Management

Task management entails creating tasks lists, delegating tasks to team members and tracking progress. Everyone will have different strategies for keeping this in check, such as task prioritisation, check lists and task management tools.

Task management is very important in improving productivity and organising workforces.

9. Quality Management

Staying on track of tasks and cracking down on time management is important, however it’s meaningless if the quality of the work is not up to standard.

Quality control includes the process of overseeing and checking the tasks completed fit the specification but is often neglected, which affects stakeholder satisfaction.

10. A Sense of Humour

Project Management is no easy feat and to get through the processes, relieve stress and work through issues, you need a good sense of humour. A good sense of humour is one of the best skills for a project manager as it can also help to see from a different perspective and encourage a tolerant working environment. A good sense of humour is an excellent source of morale, which helps reduce frustrations during long, complicated projects.

How can I develop Project Management skills?

There are many skills required for a Project Manager but the real question is: how do you go about developing these skills? The good news is there are a number of different routes you can take to building your skill set in preparation for a successful career as a Project Manager. Here are a few options:

Reading

As simple as it may sound, reading is a fantastic way to learn more about the best skills for a Project Manager and expand your knowledge in the field. There are a variety of resources available, many of which are free online, including e-books and blogs. Reading around the topic can help you build a solid foundation before going on to take an in-person or online course.

Training Courses

The Project Management Institute offers eight different certifications that you can take to improve your skills and gain industry-recognised qualifications. This includes:

  • Project Management Professional (PMP)
  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
  • Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)
  • Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)
  • PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)
  • PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)
  • PMI Project Management Ready

Each of these courses cater to different levels of expertise, ranging from courses designed for secondary school students to advanced experience courses.

Join a Project Management Organisation

There are a few Project Management Organisations you can join that offer useful resources and tools. Organisations will also help put you in contact with a network of like-minded individuals who can answer any questions you have and provide support. The Project Management Institute, International Project Management Association and Association for Project Managers are just a few examples.

Project Management at FDM

At FDM, we offer Ex-Forces, Returners and Graduates the opportunity to kickstart a career in Project Management without any prior experience or qualifications. We provide comprehensive training programmes that are designed to equip you with all the skills required to become a Project Manager, including communication, technical skills, agile working frameworks and much more.

After training is complete, you will go on to work with our industry-leading clients and gain valuable work experience. We also offer a range of support and development programmes to help you along the way and help you succeed as a Project Manager.

H2: Learn More Why not check out the FDM Ex-Forces, Getting Back to Business, Project Manager Graduate Programme to find out more?

Learn More 

Why not check out the FDM Ex-Forces, Returners and Project Manager Graduate Programme to find out more?


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