The 6 Must Have Project Management Skills

What makes a project manager great? Quickly defined, a great project manager is someone that can successfully lead teams and projects effectively. While this definition is true, it’s also extremely broad. Those in project management know just how many skills and qualities are at play to get the job done.

In this post, we are covering the six most important areas to help you hone in on your project management skills. Perhaps as an executive you’ve worked or managed a project manager, maybe you have been a project manager for ten years, or perhaps you are just starting in this position, but no matter where you fall these important tips can help set you up for success.

Let’s explore these project management skills in greater detail below.


#1: Leadership


Great leadership is an essential skill for all project managers. In this position it’s already established that you will both lead and manage a team, which includes: setting the vision, motivating team members, serving as a team player and coaching team members in order to achieve optimal performance outcomes.

The key to mastering this skill is to ensure you’re leading, not just managing. What do we mean by this? Simply put, you are responsible for providing the vision, a clear roadmap to success and motivating your team to achieve results.


#2: Communication


One of the most essential project management skills, hands down, is the ability to communicate effectively. Great communication is vital for any relationship, and for a project manager you have a direct impact not only on your team, but also for your clients and stakeholders. Frequent and strong communication will help keep everyone on the same page, while also moving the project forward.

The key to mastering the art of communication is to listen, to be clear in your message, and to ensure that others understand your message. Think of it like this: you want to communicate the right message, at the right time, to the right person. If you can achieve this, then almost any challenge or obstacle can be overcome.


#3: Planning


The ability to plan may be implied when it comes to project management, but interestingly enough many managers don’t always pay enough attention to this important skill. But planning is critical to your overall success. Keeping things organized, on track and moving forward is how you successfully reach the finish line. Great planning includes daily, weekly and monthly timelines, resource plans and briefs.

To master your planning skills, strive to always stay ten steps ahead. You want to always know what’s coming next, and not only plan for success but obstacles as well. A skilled project manager is always prepared with a plan.


#4: Time Management


A great project manager spends a significant amount of time both deciding and communicating how others will spend their time. While this is important, it’s also critical not to forget to manage your own time. In your role there are a number of tasks (some necessary and some urgent) that can consume all of your time. Practicing good time management will allow you to decipher what is indeed necessary and urgent.

The key to mastering the time management skill is to focus on the right tasks. Don’t stray too far from the project objectives, make sure your respectful of your team’s time (this works both ways) and focus your time and energy on what’s most important.


#5: Risk Management


When a project goes awry, project managers are susceptible targets. Practicing good risk management will allow you to seriously consider possible risks, stay on top of the project by controlling risks and mitigating against risks as much as possible. Effective risk management really comes down to experience, and the ability to predict what could go wrong. The second piece to this is to have humility and ask your team when needed.

They key takeaway here, and how to master effective risk management, is to identify risks before they become an issue, and determine an effective game plan so that the issue can quickly be resolved.


#6: Negotiation 


When leading a team, there are not only a number of people on that team, but often times a very diverse group of people. Thus, you will probably have to deal with competing interests and ideas, which really demands that you be a skilled negotiator. Negotiation can typically include resources, budgets and schedules, so knowing how to satisfy all parties (no matter the issue) can be a tough skill to master. Negotiation also calls for an investment in your people and their interests so you can continue to move the project forward.

The key to mastering the art of negotiation is to find the middle ground. In other words, you want all parties involved to feel like winners.

So tell us: how would you rate your project management skills? Do you need some help strengthening your project management or leadership skills? Great news! This is our specialty. Contact us; we’d love to chat with you!

By Jeanne Reaves
At Jeanne Reaves Consulting, Jeanne specializes in coaching executives in a variety of industries. As a certified Personality Consultant, Jeanne employs technology and techniques to help her clients understand their executive teams’ unique abilities, maximize their productivity and manage them more effectively to enhance earnings.