8 Essential Skills to Advance Your Career in Project Management
Project managers need to master a myriad of skill sets to lead with confidence, motivate team members and manage stakeholder engagement to deliver successful projects. It’s not always easy in the modern business world. The economy has challenged many organizations to do more with less, focus resources on failed projects, consolidate their infrastructure and critical systems, implement virtual teams to launch new global initiatives, and utilize fewer outsourced resources to manage high-profile enterprise and internal projects.
These shifting trends shed a spotlight on the need for organizations to enhance the growth, retention and training of internal talent. Project managers who focus on their personal growth and development of key skill sets will enhance their careers.
What are the key skill sets for growing success?
Here are eight key skill sets that successful project managers share as identified by PMI research, and why these skill sets are so important for success for project management professionals.
Be a strong communicator.
Communication is 90 percent of a project manager’s job on a daily basis. To be an effective communicator you want to lead and manage people through two-way communication, by expressing your ideas and expectations clearly, and listening attentively to team members, stakeholders and your sponsor(s).
Integrity is a personal choice. To hone this behavior, it’s critical to be consistent in your actions, ethics and principles on each project. You can exercise your integrity competence daily by making decisions, being forthright, honest and demonstrating ethical standards.
Teamwork in the workplace requires building relationships with your team, stakeholders and sponsor(s). You’ll inspire trust and gain credibility from your co-workers by knowing your business well, treating others with respect, and managing projects with integrity (doing what you say you will).
Be strategic with your goals.
Managing projects effectively requires being aligned with an organization’s vision, mission and strategic goals. To stay on course, you can elevate strategic thinking processes by developing your emotional intelligence skills and keeping an open dialog with your management team about company status and overall vision. And then, don’t forget to set short and long term goals.
You always want to be meeting goals and objectives along the way to your project’s final outcome. Being the person who “gets things done” is going to advance your PM career. Being results-oriented includes focusing on the activities needed to move the project forward and doing them; reviewing and assessing the results of the performance, and then providing and receiving continuous feedback to improve the overall performance for future iterations.
Develop multi-faceted skill sets.
Major industries like Information Technology, Telecommunications and Healthcare have undergone significant consolidation due to the economy. All organizations are running projects of various sizes and complexity, so the need for employees who are versed in project management, program management, and in using Agile methodologies will continue to be in high demand.
Build your soft skills.
Your emotional intelligence is just as important as your expertise. In many cases, especially if you’re looking at a management or leadership position, having good soft skills (e.g., strong communicator, insightful, positive) can give you the competitive advantage if you’re competing for a job or looking for your next project or promotion.
Develop leadership skills.
Personal growth and development is crucial to project managers’ establishing their vision, values and leadership styles. Creative disruption is growing as more organizations continue to evolve and find ways to grow their brand, stay competitive in the marketplace and retain customers. Leadership is a choice, not a position. When you choose to lead as a project manager, you’re choosing leadership.
If you want to hone your management skills to make a more successful impact on teams and projects, download our eBook, “5 Practical Habits for Today’s Project Manager.”