The 9 Project Management Skills You Need to Succeed

Is the perfect project manager born, or made?

Sometimes it may feel as though certain people were born to lead and manage others working as part of a team. But sometimes you may find yourself stepping into the role, wondering whether you really have what it takes to be a successful project manager.

The truth is, becoming great at managing projects is a bit of both. To be an effective manager within an agency you need to have a combination of both hard skills, and soft skills.

No one is born with hard skills. These involve learning technical knowledge and developing learned skills, through courses, study and much practice. These include learning to use specific software tools, for example.

But then there are those soft skills at which some people seem naturally gifted, while others of us have to work much harder. They’re generally people-skills, calling upon emotional intelligence and psychological understanding.

The good news is that it’s perfectly possible to develop both your hard and soft skills.

In this article we’re focusing on the nine core skills you need to be a truly successful project manager, as well as how you can level up every one of them.

Let’s get skilled up, and dive right in!

What Is Project Management?

Project management is the skill of handling a team that is collectively working towards a common goal. It includes planning, organizing, and allocating resources to achieve specific goals and objectives. To be an effective project manager, one must possess a wide range of skills that are required to lead their team effectively.

Project managers need to use their skills to improve planning and organization, optimize resource allocation, assess and minimize risk impact, and increase the chances of the project succeeding. With so many responsibilities on your shoulders, communication becomes key.

Top Nine Project Management Skills 

A successful and effective project manager must have a combination of technical expertise, soft skills, and certain personality traits. Here are nine project management skills you need to have to ensure success in every field.

1. Planning And Organization

Having a clear roadmap that the team can follow is one of the most important elements of project management. Planning helps stakeholders determine the goals and objectives of the project and manage the resources needed to achieve those goals.

Having a direction provides valuable insight for the project team and the stakeholders and helps to keep the project on track. Effective planning and organization also increase team efficiency by dividing tasks and responsibilities equally.

Atarim helps make planning and organizing projects considerably easier, with client requests automatically creating assigned tasks with all of the information needed, kanban-style boards allowing for a visual overview of a project’s progress, and a fully-integrated communications tool to allow everyone to understand what needs to be done, and when.

2. Team Management

A project manager can increase productivity, improve communication, reduce conflicts, and boost motivation by managing the team effectively. Team management is crucial in any project because it helps to ensure that the workflow remains unobstructed, and the project is completed efficiently and effectively. 

Project management applications such as Atarim can make it significantly easier to manage teams and improve collaboration between members. 

A good team management strategy should use project management methodologies such as Agile and Scrum which lead to better project outcomes, increased customer satisfaction, and better competitiveness.

3. Effective Communication

Strong communication goes hand-in-hand with leadership. Effective communication is a crucial skill for a good project manager. It improves teamwork, increases accountability, aids transparency, and reduces the probability of team members working on something that is incompatible with the rest of the project.

Communication lets project managers keep the team members informed and updated about the project status, progress, and revisions. This allows the team members to understand their contribution and impact and helps them make more informed decisions about the project. Being open to talking and discussing things helps teams work together more efficiently, and resolves conflict more effectively. 

As a project manager, you should master written, verbal, and visual communication to ensure all stakeholders are informed, involved, and aligned throughout the project’s lifecycle.

Teamwork is nurtured through honest and open discussions with fellow team members. Ensuring a safe and comfortable workplace also plays an important part in promoting cooperation and collaborative efforts. 

4. Critical Thinking And Analytical Skills

A large part of project management is all about making informed decisions, solving complex problems, and leading your team to successful outcomes. To be able to do this successfully, strong critical thinking and analytical skills are required.

Critical thinking involves logically analyzing, evaluating, and interpreting data to draw accurate conclusions and make sound decisions.

In any management role, your ability to think critically and analyze data and information quickly will be tested every day. Critical thinking skills help project managers deliver quality results on time by enabling better decision-making, effective problem-solving, and improved risk management.

To help improve your critical thinking skills, practice stepping back from a decision, and ask yourself exactly what it is that’s steering you towards a particular choice. Is it habit? A gut reaction? Some internal bias? Consider the fact that you may not be right.

Changing minds following research and careful, objective thinking is a skill, not indecision.

5. Risk Management

Sometimes, despite the best efforts of project managers and their teams, your project might still face unforeseen challenges that threaten its successful completion. This is where risk management comes into play.

Risk management is the process of making informed decisions to maximize benefits and minimize potential downsides caused by actions in your project. By identifying, assessing, and prioritizing potential risks, you can take steps to mitigate their impact.

This skill also helps project managers make better decisions, increase client confidence, and allocate resources more effectively. By taking a proactive approach to risk management, you can ensure the success of your projects and deliver the desired outcomes.

To help level up your risk management skill, make sure you are completely honest about any responsibility, knowledge or skill gaps across your business, and spend time trying to identify all possible risks as early as possible. Always look at mistakes as opportunities to learn; document them, reflect on them, and use those lessons wisely.

6. Adaptability

Management is a dynamic field that requires the ability to adapt to changing circumstances and unexpected challenges quickly. The nature of projects is inherently uncertain, and sudden challenges can arise at any moment.

Priorities and requirements of projects also keep shifting; project managers must learn to adapt to changing situations. Adaptability ensures that a project manager can handle unexpected circumstances, and project managers must have a problem-solving mindset to navigate changes and conditions calmly and gracefully.

To develop your adaptability, make an effort to leave your ego behind, and open your mind to change. Look for the positive opportunities, rather than reflecting on any resentment of change. Mindfulness can be a useful thing to practice, as can problem solving.

7. Leadership Qualities

The outcome of a project depends upon the leadership under which it operates. A strong leader can inspire and motivate the team and keep the project running smoothly. To be a good and supportive leader, a project manager must approach situations with empathy and understanding.

A good leader brings team members together, and fosters teamwork and collaboration with guidance and support. As a project leader, you can help team members feel impactful by learning to divide and allocate tasks, provide constructive criticism, set goals, and evaluate individual and team performance.

In today’s dynamic agency world it can often be possible for any one of a number of people to be called upon to step up and become project leader. This can be a daunting prospect for some, but remember that leadership isn’t about having all of the knowledge. It’s about teamwork – a leader is part of the team, not something separate and distinct from it.

Be honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses, and find a mentor to help you if you feel that might be useful. There are many good management and leadership courses available, and so this might be worth pursuing. 

8. Time Management

Project organization requires you to set priorities, meet deadlines, manage resources, and do multitasking. You must have good time management skills and avoid procrastination to meet deadlines of the project.

This is often challenging for someone starting fresh as a project manager, but as you gain experience handling projects, managing time gets easier.

Staying organized and keeping track of tasks and responsibilities should be learned using methods such as task scheduling, setting reminders, and using tools such as calendars, to-do lists, and project management applications. Atarim provides a suite of tools which make this a whole lot easier.

One of the things we’ve seen causing many agencies serious problems when it comes to time management is the hopping and jumping about from one tool to another that’s so often needed.

If your team is having to jump from emails to calendar, kanban board plans to collaboration, and team chat to task schedules and to-do lists, a huge amount of time will be wasted.

A quick and simple solution for this is to use one single tool, such as Atarim, that can combine all of these separate tools into one. This inevitably makes the whole process of managing and collaborating on a project much smoother and more streamlined, saving considerable time across the whole agency and project timeline. You can try this out for yourself with an Atarim free forever plan.

9. Conflict Resolution And Management

When working on a project, leaders come across people with varied perspectives and opinions. In these situations, conflicts are bound to happen. In addition to this, there are other factors such as competition for resources and miscommunication that also lead to workplace conflicts.

Managing conflicts with team members and clients is essential for teamwork and the completion of projects within deadlines. Improving team morale, enhancing communication and collaboration, improving problem-solving skills, and minimizing risks are all steps you can take as a project manager to ensure a trouble-free work environment, and reduce conflicts.

To help improve your conflict resolution skill, begin by making every effort to remove your own emotions and feelings from the situation, and focus exclusively on the facts. Look for opportunities to agree on facts.

Offering compliments also helps to not only encourage the other party to back down, but allows them to see you less as the opposition, and more as the colleague you are.

Aim to look for the root cause of the problem, rather than being distracted by surface level details, and try to spot the nonverbal communication cues people give. Conflict resolution also becomes much easier if you consistently make the effort to maintain good, positive relationships with people, even those you may not be directly working with at the time, in case they end up working on a team you’re managing in future.

Conclusion

Project management is a dynamic and complex process that requires careful planning, execution, and control. Managing the team and overseeing project development is a challenging task. 

We hope that some of the suggestions we’ve provided will help you to identify not only those skills where you may already be strong, but those in which there is scope for development. We also hope that you find some of our suggested ways of developing those skills will be of value in your continuing journey towards being the best project manager you can be.

When it comes to effective project management, Atarim saves a significant amount of time and improves productivity across the team by streamlining the workflow. Whether you’re an experienced professional or just getting started, Atarim can save you time and resources. Sign up for a free-forever plan of Atarim today!

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