10 Important Skills for the Modern Project Manager

Project managers usually fall into two categories. Those who manage their projects well, and those who manage their projects with difficulty. How well a manager handles his or her project and team usually depends on a number of skills they may or may not possess. Many of these skills are very essential tools for effective project management in today’s business landscape. This blog explores 10 of the most important ones. 

10 Essential Project Management Skills 

Whether or not you are currently a project manager, you will need a certain skill set to be effective at your job. I remember seeing Don Draper, creative manager extraordinaire, inaction on Mad Men when I watch Cox TV online. The character is the perfect screen embodiment of the modern manager, even though the show is set in the 1960s. Managing different elements of a project, people on different wavelengths, conflicts, and solutions is what makes a good project manager. But the following ten skills can also be a huge help:

  1. Leadership
  2. Scheduling
  3. Negotiation 
  4. Risk Management 
  5. Cost Control 
  6. Critical Thinking
  7. Project Recovery 
  8. Communication 
  9. Coaching
  10. Quality Management 

Let’s examine these skills in more detail below and see how they make you a more effective project manager. 

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  • Leadership

Leadership is perhaps the most important skill a project manager can have in his or her arsenal. As the top gun, you need to be able to lead your team through sometimes difficult situations. You not only need to lead them through it, but you also need to inspire and motivate your team to excel at what they do. Leadership is a skill not going out of style anytime soon. 

  • Scheduling 

A successful project manager knows how to schedule project tasks. Many people struggle with this, so you may need to work on your organizational and scheduling skills if you want to take up a project manager position. Scheduling project tasks successfully helps you do your job better and deliver projects successfully. 

  • Negotiation 

Negotiation skills are one of the core competencies of a skillful project manager. No project will proceed smoothly without conflict 100% of the time. That means you need to polish up your negotiating so that you can resolve conflicts and keep things moving through deadlocks. 

  • Risk Management 

No project can be skillfully handled without an understanding of risk. Your risk management skills help you work well with complex, unique, and transformative projects. The ability to control and mitigate risk is a very important tool for the modern project manager. 

  • Cost Control 

Managing costs and keeping things on a tight budget is an invaluable skill for project managers. Being able to understand numbers, tracking, and forecasting costs is very important to make sure the project stays on track. Project managers need to deliver a completed project despite cost constraints. 

  • Critical Thinking

The ability to think critically helps project managers make the right decisions at the right time. Critical thinking means being able to objectively weigh the pros and cons of specific actions. This helps managers determine the correct path to take and minimize unforeseen problems. 

  • Project Recovery

In many cases, you may end up being appointed as a project manager when a project is going poorly or is behind schedule. While this may not be the ideal situation you saw yourself in as a project manager, it can act as a career-boosting opportunity for you. The ability to make a dysfunctional team do the job correctly, overcoming adverse circumstances, and recovering a poorly managed project is a unique skill to have.  

  • Communication 

Communication skills may have a reputation as soft skills, but they are extremely important in a project manager capacity. The key to a smoothly functioning team and minimal confusion is to have clear and strong communication in place. You need to use channels that your team is comfortable with in order to make sure everyone knows what they have to do and how to do it. Strong communication skills leave very little room for ambiguity. 

  • Coaching

A project manager may often have to serve as a mentor to the project team to be able to motivate their top performance. Coaching skills include being able to understand your team’s weaknesses and motivating them to overcome them. You may need to give regular pep talks, encouragement, and even recognition in order to keep team morale high. 

  • Quality Management 

One of the most crucial skills a project manager can have is good quality management. Quality management ensures the project you deliver is fit for its intended purpose. You need to spend time assessing the quality angle of your project. Make quality control a priority on your list of skills to make sure the project meets the agreed standards. 

I hope these ten skills can help you on your way to becoming one of the best project managers your organization has ever appointed. As for me, I’m now going to spend more time on my cox cable packages to find more shows that focus on managerial skills and conflict resolution. You never know what you might learn.

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