Every career requires certain skills or needs that a person must possess in order to be successful at it. Take being a singer, for example. Without being highly skilled in singing and entertaining, you wouldn’t make it very far in your career. What about a graphic designer? You should have an eye for design, immense creativity, and the skills to run and work Adobe software programs — like the designers here at Pulse. Project management is no different; in order to do your job well, there are quite a few skills you need to really excel and thrive. These include communication, time management, planning, and leadership.
The stereotype believed by most people is that project managers just sit around and tell people what to do — which if you’re a good project manager, isn’t correct at all. There is much more that goes into project management than people think. It is one thing to tell people what to do, it is another to lead them and communicate what is needed in order to get the project done correctly and efficiently. What distinguishes good project managers from bad ones are their skill sets and the way they implement them in the office. Now, let’s dive a bit deeper into what these skills are and why they are so important to have as a project manager.
Perhaps the most important skill to have on your list is communication. As a project manager or coordinator, you are constantly communicating with clients, the team, and anyone else involved in the project. It is essential to be able to communicate well, as to understand your clients and be understood yourself. As a project manager or coordinator, it is your role to take the information given by a client, whether it be regarding direction, deadlines, requests, or feedback, and relay it just as well, if not better, to your team so that the project can be completed correctly and without miscommunication.
The next skill on the list is efficient time management. With multiple projects going on at once for different clients, all with different due dates, knowing how to organize and divide up your time is truly something you want to keep in your back pocket. Let’s say a new rushed project comes in from a client and needs to get finished earlier for an upcoming publication or tradeshow — it’s up to you to figure out when it can get done and how to move things around so everything else stays on track. Time management also goes hand in hand with knowing how to determine what is urgent vs just important. This way, you aren’t spending time on projects that can wait until a later date and focus on the things that need to be done as soon as possible.
Another vital skill to keep in your toolbox is smart planning. As a project manager, you are constantly looking at schedules and what your team members already have on their plates, versus what you know is coming in from your clients and will require their attention. Being able to move things around and make sure tasks are completed in the correct order of importance and urgency is essential to your team’s success. Note that a lot goes into planning — from scheduling meetings and coordinating calendars, to making sure everyone understands what is going on with each project and assigning tasks accordingly, planning is oftentimes more difficult than you might think.
The last skill I want to touch on is leadership. As a project manager, that’s one of the biggest parts of your role — it is the ability to lead a team effectively and make a project come to life. You never want to feel like you are just dictating what is happening, as that's what separates a good project manager from a bad one. You want to provide your team with all the information they need to feel comfortable and organized themselves without being unreasonable or harsh. Being a leader also means receiving and gracefully accepting feedback from your team, and creating an overall pleasant atmosphere where individuals feel comfortable stepping up and addressing issues or concerns when they erupt.
There are countless other skills that make a project manager a successful one in addition to the ones discussed above. If you have any other skills or tips that I missed that have worked for you and your project team, I would love to hear them!