Three Project Manager Skills for Every Professional

John Scott
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Managing a project requires a number of business skills that work in conjunction. A level head and impeccable organizational prowess can only get you so far. When there are other people relying on your guidance, taking on various roles effectively is crucial. Becoming an effective project manager takes time and experience, but there are essential skills that you can master quickly. Use these three ways to boost your competence as a project manager.

Crisis Management

First, you must become resilient and stoic in the face of adversity. When something goes wrong, or a stakeholder asks for an untimely change in structure, you are the one who needs to focus and lead. Even if you are frantically grasping for straws inside, your team members are counting on you to be the voice of reason. Calmly analyze the situation, and proceed confidently.

From the moment a project is implemented, it is up to you, as project manager, to be prepared for unexpected issues. The best way to manage a crisis is to have a contingency plan ready to go, but the reality is that there is no way to plan for every possible situation. Do your best to prepare from the start, but when things get tough, this is when your management skills are tested. Be realistic, know when to say no, realize when ideas that once seemed perfect become less than ideal and roll with the punches as best you can.

Organizational Expertise

Organizational skills are a project manager's strong point, but there is no universal standard when it comes to organizing a project. One week, you may find that the most effective business strategy is to give your team members plenty of time to complete their tasks as efficiently as possible. The next week they may need to follow rigid deadlines with absolutely no room for leniency. Being able to adapt your organization, its structure and schedule for specific situations is a critical skill for any project manager.

Genuine Communication

Finally, knowing how to communicate genuinely is something that some project managers never learn. Communication does not mean speaking at subordinates. True communication involves hearing and understanding what your team members have to say and using that information to the benefit of the whole. It is far too easy for a project manager to feign interest in a team member's opinion or advice, only to immediately disregard it moments later.

Another aspect of communication that is commonly overlooked is knowing how to inspire team members realistically. While intrinsic motivation is certainly a natural business skill that all managers hope their employees possess, the fact is that sometimes a few simple words of encouragement can go a long way. Tell your employees when they are doing exceptional work. Respectfully let them know how you think they could improve, and try to really understand their response. One of the most important and appreciated management skills is the ability to legitimately relate to those who are on lower rungs of the business ladder.

Crisis management, organizational expertise and communication skills are all obvious qualities a good project manager should have, but the real takeaway is that a nuanced understanding of these skills is what counts. Crisis management is not just delegating; organization is not just being neat and communication is not just talking.

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