Project Management Soft Skills: Definition And Examples
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Companies hire project managers to ensure the smooth functioning of project operations, measure project progress and manage project teams. This requires project managers to have a set of soft skills along with their technical skills to oversee timely project execution. If you are interested in becoming a project manager, learning about the requirements can help you prepare yourself well for the role. In this article, we discuss the meaning of project management soft skills, explore a list of these skills, identify ways of improving them and also look at ways of applying them in the workplace.
What Are Project Management Soft Skills?
Project management soft skills are a set of capabilities that help project managers perform well at their jobs and also help them build and manage their teams. These skills include the ability to motivate team members, lead them, communicate with them and clients, organise tasks, resolve conflicts and solve problems. Along with technical skills, soft skills can help project managers improve the overall productivity and efficiency of their teams. Some soft skills can also help project managers interact with clients and represent the company professionally.
Examples Of Soft Skills For Project Management
Here are some soft skills that can help project managers perform their job well:
Irrespective of the nature of the project, verbal and written communication skills are important skills for a project manager. Verbal communication skills can help them communicate with their teams, senior management and the company's clients. Through written communication, they can communicate important details of their project with different stakeholders through emails, memos, letters, reports and presentations. You can develop your communication skills by enrolling in professional business communication courses that also offer a certification.
Leadership is an important skill for project managers as they are responsible for the performance of their teams. It is important for them to motivate their team members, provide feedback, offer guidance and help their team members grow. Some other important leadership skills include empathy, active listening, adaptability and strategic thinking. You can improve your leadership skills by learning about different leadership styles, identifying one that suits you well and learning from industry experts who have the same style.
Related: 10 Common Leadership Styles
Though employers expect project managers to lead their teams, it is also important for them to work in teams. This includes working with their team members and also their colleagues on other projects. The ability to work in teams helps project managers respect the opinions of other people and direct their combined efforts towards a common goal. You can develop this skill by participating in team-oriented activities and involving your team while taking any major project-related decisions.
Project managers may face several problems daily due to broken machinery, inefficient employees or factors beyond their control. Employers look for project managers who can proactively solve any issues that may arise instead of waiting for the senior management to intervene. For this, it is also important for project managers to have excellent decision-making skills. You can develop this skill by identifying solutions for hypothetical situations, reading case studies and solving hard puzzles that test your analytical thinking.
As a project manager leads their team, there may be situations where they may be required to resolve conflicts between team members. At such times, it is important for the project manager to be impartial, understand the root cause of the conflict, identify a solution and act as a mediator. You can read about the process of conflict resolution, understand why conflicts arise and explore different methods of resolving disagreements to develop this skill.
As a project manager, you may be responsible for overseeing multiple tasks at a time. Having good organisational skills can ensure that you can manage your time, produce results and streamline your workflow. This can help you improve your productivity and efficiency at work. You can also use this skill to organise your workplace and keep it tidy. While you may have your own organisational system, you can also utilise the project management tools available on the Internet. These tools can help you plan schedules, create workflows, allocate resources and ensure accountability.
Project managers may often work with limited resources but are required to deliver optimal results. They may sometimes be required to create innovative solutions to operational problems. This requires them to be resourceful so that they can produce the best results using the available resources. Being resourceful also tests your ability to be creative in difficult situations. You can develop this skill by solving puzzles that exercise your creative thinking.
There may often be unforeseen incidents in your project which can cause deviations from the original plan. This requires project managers to be able to adapt to different situations and overcome any problems that may arise. You can develop this skill by trying to be flexible in any situation and exploring different available options when problems occur.
How To Improve Your Project Management Soft Skills
Here are some steps that you can take to improve your project management skills:
1. Undergo professional training
One of the best ways to develop any skill is to gain professional training and education. There are several project management courses that help professionals develop their soft skills, along with technical knowledge. If you want to improve only a particular skill like communication or leadership, you can also enrol in crash courses that are specially designed for professionals. These courses help you learn in a structured environment and also offer several opportunities to practise these skills.
2. Ask for feedback
By asking for feedback, you can identify your skills that require improvement and make efforts to improve them. It may be a good idea to find a mentor who may be a senior project manager or a professor from your college days. You can then present your skills to them by enacting situations and asking for their feedback. Present hypothetical problems or situations and ask for their opinions. You can then apply their suggestions at work when you encounter similar problems.
3. Learn from observation
You can also build your skills by observing other project managers at work. If you know other senior project managers who are successful at their jobs, you can accompany them to their workplace. Observe how they interact with their teams, solve problems, resolve conflicts and represent their company to clients. Asking questions and making notes during your observations are important to ensure that you can retain most of the information.
4. Follow industry leaders
Another effective way of developing your soft skills for project management is by following industry leaders on different channels. You can learn from their experience or advice and emulate them in your own workplace. Identify their leadership style, observe how they solve problems, understand how they manage their teams and apply them in your interactions at work.
5. Read case studies
Case studies highlight some of the most common problems in the industry and highlight the solutions that were implemented. You can use these case studies to grow your knowledge and also think of other feasible solutions to the problems mentioned. Case studies are an excellent way of becoming aware of different types of problems that may occur and preparing contingency plans.
Ways To Improve Soft Skills For Project Management In The Workplace
Here are some ways of applying the soft skills for project management at your workplace:
Train your team members. An important quality of a good leader is to train their team members and help them grow in their career journey. During performance appraisals, you can help them create a plan they can follow to improve their skillset.
Allocate your time to tasks. This can help ensure that you complete tasks within deadlines. You can use the different time tracking and management tools to understand how you spend your time and improve your productivity.
Set clear quantifiable goals. By setting quantifiable goals and objectives, you can help your team understand their responsibility towards achieving them and also equip them to measure their performance in relation to the goals.
Create a project timeline. This can help increase accountability while trying to complete tasks and ensure that the final delivery happens on time. Creating a project timeline also makes it easy to compare the actual progress with the plan and identify any factors that may slow the progress.
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