Learn what it is to be a great project manager by understanding what project management skills are, which you need, and how to develop them.
Project management is the backbone of successful ventures, ensuring teams meet objectives with efficiency and precision. While it’s a domain rich in processes and methodologies, the human element — embodied in key skills — is pivotal.
In this guide, we’ll explore project management skills, why they matter, and how you can gain the ones you need to see projects succeed.
What are project management skills, and why do they matter? 🗃️
Project management skills are the broad skills and abilities people need to complete projects from start to finish. These range from soft skills like communicating and managing time to hard ones like project planning or visualizing the scope.
For a project manager, these are indispensable, regardless of the industry. These tools ensure teams complete projects on time, within budget, and to stakeholders’ satisfaction. These skills also help project managers address unforeseen challenges, communicate clearly with teams, and align the project's goals with the organization's strategic objectives.
20 project management skills 🔧
Aspiring project managers, when listing resume skills, must include soft and hard skills to create a great first impression on the recruiter. A project manager with perfect resource allocation but no problem-solving would surely fail, as would a project manager with outstanding communication and no project scoping experience.
Here are 20 soft and hard project management skills to adopt:
Soft skills needed for project management 🍦
Soft skills, often called non-technical skills, typically relate to how you interact with others. They also include skills that help you navigate your workspace and complete work efficiently. Below are 10 project management soft skills:
1. Teamwork 👥
Teamwork is your ability to get all team members to collaborate and foster a healthy culture. Your team will likely consist of a diverse range of individuals, and you must ensure everyone gets along and feels valued to complete projects efficiently.
2. Time management ⏳
Time management means allocating resources and time effectively to complete all tasks within deadlines. Think of it as working efficiently with the time available and managing your team. This is influenced by organization, task delegation, and crisis management.
3. Problem-solving 🥳
No project will be smooth sailing, and issues will always arise. Your problem-solving skills allow you to analyze potential obstacles and find practical solutions. This way, you avoid disruptions and project delays.
4. Adaptability 🌿
Much like problems, your projects aren't immune to changes. Your ability to adapt to any changes –– whether in priorities, resources, or deadlines –– will help you guide your team toward an effective direction. You need emotional maturity to stay mentally strong during times of change.
5. Decision-making 🤩
As a project manager, you are the ship’s captain, and your team relies on you to make the best decisions. Remember, your decisions will impact the project's success, so it's essential to understand its objectives, assess risks, and work within resource constraints.
6. Organization 🗓️
Organization is how you approach tasks and resources to ensure project success. It involves everything from prioritizing tasks to knowing what must be done, by whom, and when. You can significantly improve a project’s organization using singular project management tools rather than several disconnected ones.
7. Critical thinking 💭
Critical thinking is less about finding a solution to a problem and more about the steps you take to get to that solution. It's about analyzing a problem from a strategic point of view and using information to shape an answer –– without your emotions taking over.
8. Leadership 🌟
Leadership is more than telling your team what to do. It involves inspiring confidence in your team members and guiding them to be their best while offering support when needed. This is important for project management, as a team is only as strong as the weakest link, so you must empower everyone.
9. Conflict resolution 🤠
Sometimes, stakeholders make unreasonable changes to the project scope, or a disgruntled team member attempts to sabotage the project. Conflict resolution is about identifying sources of conflict and managing or removing them. A conflict resolution approach to the examples above would be to explain how changing the scope is impossible or help the team member address their issue.
10. Negotiation ⚖️
Negotiation is similar to conflict resolution, but instead of removing or managing conflict sources, you work toward a beneficial or satisfactory solution for everyone. While conflict resolution is about tackling a problem, negotiation is about compromising.
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Hard skills needed for project management 🧑💻
Hard skills, also called technical skills, are the techniques, tools, and methodologies you need to complete projects. These are quantifiable through gauging someone's capability and knowledge in an area through assessments or degrees, for example. Below are 10 project management technical skills:
1. Project planning 🎫
Project planning is a project’s blueprint and the ability to create a plan for the project, which is crucial for guiding the goal toward success. Without proper project planning, your projects are more likely to fail.
2. Project scoping 💯
Project scoping involves detailing your project's limitations, goals, and size. This is where you will schedule a rough idea of the tasks and objectives to meet. You must develop this skill to avoid scope creep, which occurs when new objectives are continually added to the plan.
3. Quality management 😍
For a successful project, you must determine the metrics for assessing quality standards. Besides ensuring everything done conforms to the project's requirements, it allows you to monitor whether the project's progress meets all expectations.
4. Project roadmapping 🛣️
A project roadmap details specific project deliverables and tasks to be completed and by whom. It's a high-level overview of everything that must be done to finish the project successfully and lists all stages a project goes through.
5. Project timeline mapping ⌚
The project timeline goes hand in hand with the roadmap as it orders the events and specifies the duration they should be completed. For this, you'd need to understand how long tasks would take. These can be a brief overview or detailed, mapping overall deliverables or individual tasks.
6. Task management 🗣️
You must manage tasks to ensure you and your team members complete projects successfully, prioritizing tasks in order of importance. This involves knowing who is doing what and how long they have.
7. Project briefing 🔥
Writing an excellent project brief is the key to a project's success as it highlights the overall objectives. The project brief should be continually updated based on feedback and developments as you progress through the project. Ultimately, you can refer to it to align tasks with the objective.
8. Budget management 🤑
Every project has budgetary constraints, which are essential to remember before running out of funding. You'll need to keep track of all expenses, estimate costs, and ensure the project is profitable when completed.
9. Resource management 📑
Like managing your budget, you need to know how to handle resources for project completion. This involves knowing what equipment or tools are required, how to delegate tasks to the correct team members, and what materials are necessary. Optimizing available resources to prevent bottlenecks is of the utmost priority.
10. Technical expertise 🖥️
This isn't necessary for every project, but it does help when planning everything. For example, you'd need technical expertise to know the time specific tasks will take or the required resources. This knowledge usually comes from experience, but the core foundational skills of project management can be used in any industry.
How to develop project management skills 🧑🎓
Now that you know the skills needed to become a great project manager, you're likely wondering how to get them. Here are a few project management tips to gain and improve your project manager skills:
- Gain experience: Handle small projects or assist seasoned project managers to understand real-world challenges.
- Engage in communities: Join groups like the Project Management Institute (PMI) for resources and seminars, and network with peers.
- Use technology: Familiarize with tools like Trello and Asana to streamline tasks and collaborations.
Manage projects with Contra 🎯
Your journey in mastering project management skills can lead to incredible opportunities. And what better way to begin than on Contra? Sign up today to connect with top companies looking for your expertise. With a platform that champions you without the commission fees, it's a win-win. And by upgrading to Contra Pro, you give your profile that extra edge, making sure you're not just seen but remembered.