The project management skills, known in Spanish as key skills in project management, are necessary for managers to keep a team working towards goals.
Today two generic aspects stand out among the competencies that a good project manager must possess. On the one hand, emotional management, key to communication, cohesion and motivation of the group. On the other, the mastery of new technologies is useful for data analysis and the performance of various tasks.
Although these qualities may vary, most experts consider the seven competencies discussed below to be the most common and key to project management. A current manager must organize and direct the work of his team: in practice, he must act as a leader who drives a project towards its objective. Due to its relevance, leadership is at the top of the list.
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Having qualities for leadership is an almost mandatory requirement when managing projects with solvency and is one of the most important skills. To be a leader, it is not enough to want to: it is essential to be recognized. It is necessary to establish fluid communication channels and know-how to listen and build trust in the work team.
Empathy is also necessary for the leader sees the increased capacity for motivation since the proper management of emotions in the group reinforces its cohesion. From the emotional point of view, having a healthy group offers good results both to achieve objectives and to face new projects with guarantees.
A leadership style that allows the individual development of the members of the workgroup benefits the entire organization. Linked to this quality is the ability to take advantage of unique talent and resolve conflicts. The benefits of having a cohesive group are numerous, which is why it is also essential to know how to manage both casualties and new hires that may occur. In medium or long-term projects, this skill is key.
A good leader is someone who knows himself well, who knows what his strengths are and where his weaknesses are. This self-awareness is the cornerstone that builds leadership, so it is a task that any project manager must undertake.
Good project management can only happen when there is a good plan. Without proper planning, no leader can lead the group to success. A method involves a series of stages that must be fulfilled in a certain order and time. Knowing how to order these phases is a time-consuming task that someone can only tackle with good planning skills.
The project leader must pay the necessary attention to this section because if the planning fails at some point, it can compromise all the group’s work. Therefore, it is also required to establish ways of monitoring each of the stages. In this way, deviations or breaches that may occur can be corrected.
A good planner will know how to design a structured plan to develop over time; The micromanagement is as important as the macro. For everything to work, it must be stipulated how each of the tasks will be carried out: meetings, reports, estimates and deadlines, among others. Efficiency is the beacon that should guide all these small elements for the project as a unit to achieve your ultimate goals.
Identify Risks And Problems
Related to the ability to plan is to identify problems that may arise. A good project manager has to have a plan b for critical situations, but you have to know how to define what they can be to give them a useful answer.
Like a chess player, before moving a piece, a good manager must evaluate the possible scenarios encountered in the next moment. You must go several steps ahead to identify risks and have answers to problems ready.
This skill is achieved like almost all, with training and experience, but in this case, the experience becomes more relevant for obvious reasons. We have experienced similar situations before, which helps to know which are the effective responses and which are not.
It is also a guarantee that, in the planning process, problems already known due to the characteristics of the task will be taken into account. For example, knowing that there will be more demand for your item at Christmas time, it is useful to plan its production throughout the year.
Know How To Communicate
In the first point, the importance of communication between the leader and the group members has already been highlighted. This good communication implies having enough skill to make yourself understood and understand what is being said. However, it is also necessary to establish adequate communication channels.
These communication channels go beyond a personal disposition to listen; The project manager must know the technological resources that he can use to maintain communication with the group members in the performance of his duties. In other words, the project must be provided with instruments so that communication can be given in the most convenient way and both directions.
This means that it is not enough to have a communicative spirit. You have to use applications and devices that facilitate that communication. In addition, there must be channels that allow the sharing of data, even in real-time. Finally, it is also necessary to keep everyone involved informed about the development of tasks and changes in planning.
Manage Time Well
One of the most common mistakes in working groups is the excessive length of meetings to reach conclusions that do not need elaboration. It often ends up wandering and turning to issues that are already covered and that only need to be put into practice. The manager must know when to end a gruelling meeting that turns on itself.
This does not mean that periodic meetings cannot be established to evaluate the different tasks carried out. Still, it is different from assessing an activity already carried out than theorizing for hours about something that has not yet been tested. The analysis of the data and its evaluation is no less important than the previous meetings. Still, the theory is often prioritized, and the study of facts or information is neglected.
In another area is the management of personal time. A good manager must know how to manage his day to get the most out of it. Knowing how to say “no” and discriminating what is important from what is superfluous are two skills that must be put into practice. A well-known quote from former US President Eisenhower serves to clarify priorities: “What is important is rarely urgent, and what is urgent is rarely important.”
Have Negotiating Skills
Priorities are also related to negotiating because you have to know where you want to give in and at what time. Although negotiation is not always necessary, you have to know how to negotiate when you have to deal.
A good negotiator knows how to find the key points of the negotiation and put himself in the place of the other. You must know how to offer a common objective that serves as a starting point to reach agreements from there.
The project manager must prevent negotiations from stalling at a dead end. Therefore, the negotiating experience provides a not inconsiderable plus. If you have negotiating skills and experience, the results can be positive for all parties involved.
Have Technical Knowledge
Experience has already been highlighted as a very good virtue in general, but technical knowledge in all areas related to the project is no less. If experience is practical knowledge, technical knowledge is specialized training.
A good project manager must know the market in which he operates, the organization he works and the project that he has to direct in all its aspects. This includes their ability to intervene directly, if necessary, in decision-making on any of its phases.
These seven competencies are basic but can be improved with other more generic skills that have to do with the personality traits of each individual. In summary, it could be said that proper project management is the sum of experience and personal talent to lead, communicate, plan, negotiate and direct a group of people towards a common goal.
These skills must be complemented today with technological advances in the use of big data, mobile devices, communication technologies or artificial intelligence, among others. It is a new challenge for organizations and managers, but that offers them new possibilities to improve and achieve their objectives.
Also Read: Big Data: A Valuable Ally For Your SME