Project managers are primarily responsible for the success or failure of a project. It is their job to not only manage the workflow, but to apply their knowledge, tactics and skills to meet every requirement.
It is imperative to refine your skills to exceed a client’s expectations and to ensure you adhere to their specific needs on schedule. If you are considering a career in project management, or want to build on your existing knowledge, here are four essential skills every project manager needs.
1. Effective Leadership
Every successful project manager will need to possess exceptional leadership skills, which can help them to both lead and manage their team. They will also be responsible for establishing the project’s vision, inspiring every team member and coaching them to improve their personal performance.
An effective leader will also need to:
- Set goals
- Quickly resolve conflict
- Evaluate individual performances
- Manage a project’s finances
- Identify the best tools for the job
Without effective leadership, you will be unable to enforce various processes and ensure each team member is working towards the same goal each day. Plus, you must bear in mind that you may need to perform various tasks outside of your duties to ensure a project is completed on time and to the highest possible standard.
2. Time Management
A project manager is not only responsible for managing their own time, but they also are responsible for the management of their team members’ schedule. You will also need to learn when to say no to a task, so you can hit your own goals on time. However, many project managers will need to contend with time-critical tasks trumping the most important jobs on their to-do list.
You will, therefore, need to improve your critical thinking skills to identify if a task is or isn’t important. For example, if a meeting isn’t essential to the delivery or outcome of a project, cancel it. If you do need to hold a meeting, create an agenda and stick to it to avoid wasting your team’s valuable time. You also must look for opportunities to delegate to your team to ensure you are never bogged down by unnecessary tasks.
A project manager must not only be able to articulate themselves well to their team so that they know exactly what they need to do and when they need to do it, but also understand their employees’ requirements.
In addition to clearly communicating with your team, you also must remain in constant communication with a client, which can provide them with confidence a project is on schedule. Plus, if there is an obstacle you must overcome, you should immediately inform a client to ensure there are no nasty surprises down the road.
You also can improve communication and clarity by:
- Hosting status meetings
- Sending clear status reports
- Creating project presentations
It is important to note that you may need to adopt different communication strategies for each project you undertake, as you might need to work with different people, use a select communication system or create a communication structure to complement your team members’ needs.
4. Risk Management
The blame will often fall on a project manager’s shoulders when a project doesn’t go to plan, as a client will wonder how they couldn’t have foreseen and prevented the potential issues. To avoid unhappy clients, you must aim to successfully manage potential risks.
However, the key to mitigating various risks is experience, as you will need a firm understanding of what can go wrong during the life of a project. You also should turn to your team to identify any risks they might foresee.
Following the identification of various risks, you must develop a risk plan on how to prevent the potential obstacles. To do so, you will need to assign:
- A probability
- The cost
- The owner of the risk
- The mitigation strategies
You will also need to track the potential risks to remain in full control of a project, so it experiences minimal delays.
Decreasing the potential for risk will not only improve a project’s delivery time, but it can provide your clients with better value for money. Plus, it can help you to effectively prevent issues that can cause unwanted stress and anxiety.
James Daniels is a freelance writer, business enthusiast, a bit of a tech buff, and an overall geek. He is also an avid reader, who can while away hours reading and knowing about the latest gadgets and tech, whilst offering views and opinions on these topics.