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What Skills Should a Project Manager Have?

Happy young managers successfuly completed hard project.

“Don’t skimp on soft skills when writing your resume,” said Career Builder in 2014, when 56 percent of 2,138 hiring managers said “effective communication” is an important employee skill. In 2021, Indeed lists “communication” as the number one project management skill, but it’s not the only must-have talent of someone in this position.

The Most Important Project Manager Skills

The most important project manager skills include some 2014-2021 lists of qualifications most desired by employers. The top recommended traits focus on how team members work together, most of which center around strong communication skills.

1. Communication

Two project managers working in virtual 3d using ar glasses.

Project managers constantly rely on communication between team members to accomplish projects. However, communication doesn’t just mean opening your mouth and articulating sounds with your lips that happen to turn into thoughts. Project managers must know how to convey messages on behalf of teams and clients with no misunderstandings, for instance.

In addition, they must share goals, visions, ideas and issues in a way that leaves no room for interpretation. However, this doesn’t mean that project managers always execute their messages to their teams perfectly, so they need to have humility.

2. Humility

“Leaders who practice humility engender trust, empower their subordinates, look at failures as challenges and develop a team spirit — all of which leads to happier employees and more profits for the company.” – Karina Fabian, Business News Daily. Fabian says that humility may not be the first qualification that comes to mind when considering desired management skills. However, placing trust in team members does require this trait.

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What’s more, it takes humility for project managers to accept questions and feedback that could clarify and move a project forward.

3. Problem-Solving

A team is having a discussion in board room.

Problem-solving works hand in hand with communication and humility, which leads to the collaborative effort among all team members.  This includes analyzing a problem and determining which solutions will produce the most favorable results. It also requires a project manager who can incorporate the best ideas proposed by all team members.

Solving problems also usually requires assessing potential risks that could occur during the project’s duration. For instance, it may require working within budget constraints or testing and developing of solutions never used before. The best managers know how to use problem-solving when dealing with interpersonal conflicts too.

For instance, they may need to facilitate team discussions that reconcile idea differences, so a compromise is reached.

4. Organization

Project managers must know how to make use of the time given to complete all tasks. This requires the organization of multiple schedules. However, leaders of projects also must foresee potential setbacks before they happen, so team members complete all milestones by their prescribed deadlines.

5. Leadership

Portrait of a female manager showing management studies.

A project manager must know how to recognize each employee’s achievements, so they feel valued. Leadership, however, requires more than just observing job performance. Project managers must know how to identify everyone’s talents and place the people who have those talents in the best positions for efficient task completion.

However, strong leaders need to spend time communicating effectively with team members before this can happen. After taking time to learn about each employee’s best attributes, a project manager will delegate tasks, provide constructive feedback, establish individual and team goals, and evaluate progress. Not everyone has a natural-born ability to lead, but anyone desiring to become a project manager must learn how to steer all team members in the right direction and keep them happy.

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6. Motivational Skills

When delegating tasks, project managers should not just take charge of a situation, but they also need to motivate and inspire people. Types of encouragement given by team leaders may include offering performance rewards, such as free coffee vouchers or micro bonuses. The encouragement given by team leaders also comes in motivation that money cannot buy.

For instance, project managers usually have higher success rates when talking to team members in ways that makes them feel trusted. The best leaders always believe in the people on their project team.

7. Observe Technology Trends

Attractive young manager using tablet with abstract big data interface screen.

Project managers usually keep up with current technology trends, which improves a team’s ability to adapt quickly and shorten project turnaround times. If you’re in charge of a group of people working on team tasks, never stop researching new technologies your company can use. You might have to receive authorization from upper management before applying equipment still in the testing phases.

However, having a mind for what may boost team productivity and performance will take you a long way in your industry. For instance, more AI-powered solutions have surfaced in 2022 that contribute to project automation, security and communication. However, this doesn’t just mean physical robots taking the place of human beings, which does happen in restaurants, manufacturing plants, data rooms and more.

It also involves automating email sends, social media posting or voice transcriptions, for instance.

8. Software Proficiency

Project managers usually deploy a variety of cloud-based tools that improve productivity, such as Basecamp or Google Workspace. Systems like this organize whole projects and individual tasks within those projects, creating milestones and deadlines. It reduces time required to prepare for the work team members must finish and enables them to “get started” as soon as possible.

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Software proficiency may require learning how to use advanced software development frameworks, such as SCRUM or Agile. Project managers also might play a role in developing training curricula. This may include operating software used to create interactive videos, quizzes, help documentation and more.