Project Managers have to deal, not only with time, resources and budget, but also with people. Most projects have a team assigned to them, and being able to keep everybody on board is one of the biggest challenges of PM. We’ll take a look at 3 main skills that will help project managers align their teams and achieve better results.
Essential project management skills
Project Management is all about aligning the resources available to accomplish the main objective, and these resources include team members. And, let’s face it: working with people can be difficult. We think different, we act different, we work different. So one of the biggest challenges is to keep everybody on the team motivated and aligned with the project’s objective.
Being a leader means you need to step up, motivate and mediate when necessary. As a project manager, you are the owner of the project and people are going to look for you when they have problems or questions related to the project. You have to be empathetic so you can understand where they’re coming from and why they’re demanding what they are. Be there for your teammates, listen to them and help them when they need it. At the end of the day, team members are responsible for completing tasks, and if you are not there to solve problems, the project will be affected.
To be a good leader, you need to be clear from the start. Let everyone know what’s expected from them, what they are accountable for and how much decision-making power they have on every stage of the project.
We just said it: working with people is one of the main characteristics on any project management process. That’s why communication is such an important skill for any good project manager. Since you will be working with different people, sometimes even in different locations, it’s very important that you provide the tools that allow every member on the team to be updated on the progress of the project and the channels available for them to communicate with you when they need to ask questions, inform about incidences, or simply, to talk.
A good idea is to create spaces for communication (recurrent meetings, committees, digital groups, etc.). When these spaces are available, people know when and where they’ll be able to talk about specific topics or solve any problems they’re experiencing on the project’s execution.
Remember that as a project manager you not only have to communicate with the team members, but also with everyone associated with the project (vendors, contractors, sponsors, stakeholders, etc.). Create communication habits that allow you to constantly inform everyone of the project’s progress, according to the role they play on it (e.g. a monthly virtual meeting with sponsors).
A Project Manager needs to be good at management (duh!). As obvious as it sounds, sometimes people don’t pay enough attention to this highly important skill. A Project Manager isn’t only someone who knows a lot about the project’s topic, but also needs to be really good at managing resources, such as time, risks, costs, tasks and quality.
Being able to align all these resources, and people at the same time, while maintaining everything under control is one of the biggest challenges that project managers face.
- Managing time: every project has a deadline and also does every task in the project. The PM is responsible for the project’s progress and this means verifying that all the tasks are meeting the deadlines on time so that the final result can be achieved at the planned end date.
- Managing risk: no matter how much time we spend planning the project, risks exist and can come up at any time. PMs need to identify potential risks in advance in order to plan the appropriate mitigation strategies to handle these risks if they ever where to arise within the projects timeline .
- Managing cost: every project has a defined budget. Since internal changes can happen in the execution of the project, PMs need to be really good at managing money and reallocate items according to the new needs of the project without affecting the initial budget.
- Managing quality: Quality processes need to be incorporated in any project to ensure the success of the project. The PMI (Project Management Institute) suggests to follow these 3 steps:
- Quality planning: establish quality metrics that allow you to measure how well your project is progressing according to what was planned. These metrics should have an impact in the business, so you shouldn't just watch for the traditional scope, time and cost metrics, but go a little bit further.
- Quality assurance: to ensure quality you need to have accurate data. Verify that the metrics you're measuring are the right ones, and that the information gathered is true. Once you know what you're monitoring, work on continuous improvement.
- Quality control: after establishing quality metrics and gathering true data, monitor the metrics to see how well they're performing. Analyze the data so you can make decisions easily and rapidly about the quality of the project's deliverables.
If you want to know more about quality in projects, we invite you to read this PMI article.
CONCLUSION: leadership, communication and management, 3 skills that every project manager MUST have to be really good at their job. Do you think there’s any other skill that’s a MUST? Let us know in the comments!