10 Skills Every Project Manager Should Have in 2020

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Being a project manager means balancing a diverse set of skills, people and stakeholders. Find out what skills you need to be a successful manager in 2020.

In the field, project managers (PMs) must deploy a wide range of professional skills. One day, you may find yourself leading a programming team. During another project, you may be called upon to revise and streamline operations. Each project will require you to use a diverse skill set and to adapt your approach based on the demands of the project brief.

Commerce evolves, and so must your understanding of your given vertical. As a result, the things that you need to know to do your job competently will change continually. At the same time, some skills will always stay relevant. Focusing on mastering those key skills will give you the flexibility to thrive in any project management situation.       

Because business expectations are always changing in the marketplace as a whole, project managers need to constantly update and improve their skills in order to succeed year after year. The following are ten skills every project manager should have in 2020.

1. Rallying the troops: Working with teams

To be an effective project manager, you have to know how to manage people. After all, a project can’t come together without the different skills and talents of various team members! People are your most valuable asset and simultaneously your biggest liability as a PM.

Competent project managers work well with people and teams. They also provide essential benefits such as flex hours and training and recognize the importance of organizational management for any initiative in ensuring team and project success.

These days, project managers also need to be able to manage people remotely, sometimes with team members working in different time zones. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it necessary for many companies to go fully remote, at least temporarily. Additionally, many companies are hiring remote freelance workers to take on portions of large projects.

Managing remote teams can require different skills than leading in an office environment since communication can be more challenging. As a modern project manager, you need to be able to manage people both in and out of the office.

2. Effective time management

There’s one thing that every project has in common – a deadline. Accordingly, effective time management is a requisite skill to work in the field. You must have the ability to create a functional timeline that includes deadlines and is feasible with the resources that are at your disposal.

You must also make sure that every initiative fulfills its desired goal. With a firm grasp of time management, you can make sure that your team completes projects on time – and on budget.

3. Getting your point across with effective communication

Effective communication is essential for long-term success in project management. Technology is, in a sense, driving people apart. Today, people are more comfortable behind a virtual shield of anonymity. However, face-to-face communication is the best way to build authentic professional relationships. Some things just don’t come across well digitally.

On the other hand, it’s important to be adaptable and to communicate as best you can within your circumstances. For instance, more people than ever are working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether or not there will be a permanent shift in more people working remotely or not, you have to know how to leverage the best tools available to you at any given time. In a pinch, video chat is a good substitute for face-to-face communication. 

4. Critical thinking and problem-solving

Critical thinking and problem-solving are crucial components of your project management toolkit. You’ll need to develop guru-like abilities, forecasting problems before they arise. For this ability, you need a firm understanding of best practices for problem-solving in your industry. You’ll also need to stay calm under pressure so that you can solve problems logically.

You should develop your own processes for problem-solving. When you come across the inevitable challenges in project management, where do you start in the process of overcoming them? There are different strategies you can use for identifying the problem (examining the root cause or creating a mind map, for instance), which is a crucial first step in creating effective solutions.  

5. Emotional intelligence in the work environment

Project management is about more than budgets and deadlines. It’s a people-focused vertical. Understanding all of the personalities you’re working with is a huge asset in moving a project forward.

Today, enterprises employ more remote team members and are replacing many manual tasks with automation. As a result, it’s easy for team members to grow segregated. As a project manager, however, it’s your responsibility to possess the emotional talent needed to draw members together.

6. Negotiation—the foundation of success

Many people shy away from negotiation because they see it as confrontational. In reality, negotiations are essential in all areas of business, including project management.

Project managers have to negotiate with people at different levels all the time, whether they’re discussing pricing with a contractor, negotiating a timeline with the C-level, or working with employees on when they can take time off. Strong negotiation skills and the drive to find “win-win” solutions are key for getting projects done on time and under budget.

7. Goal-setting for project-management

It’s your job to provide the direction that team members need to fulfill their roles. You must relay the company vision into the minds of internal stakeholders. As a result, you will find yourself playing the role of coach and mentor to team members.

8. Conflict resolution

There’s no avoiding it. When people work together, they have differences. Because of this, you will have to prove your ability at issue and conflict resolution from time to time. Rather than becoming the “conflict whisperer,” however, it’s better to nurture the type of team rapport that may prevent disagreements from arising in the first place.

9. Knowing your stakeholders

It can’t be said enough that you will need strong people management skills to work in project management. As a project manager, you’ll serve as a facilitator who builds and manages interpersonal relationships. To do this, you’ll need the ability to influence internal stakeholders and win their respect.

10. Embracing new technology

Adding new technologies and platforms to your toolbelt can provide a much-needed improvement in productivity for your team. But getting them to adopt said technology can be a struggle if not implemented correctly. As a project manager, you’ll need to understand what the changes represent and who they’ll affect, that way you can firmly establish a strategy and roadmap for your team.

The more vividly you explain and display the usefulness of a new workflow or platform, the more likely your team will move past initial struggles in favor of long-term benefits.

Effective project management is an ongoing process

Project management is characterized by change and accountability. Resultantly, you’ll need in-depth knowledge and skills to perform your duties. What’s more, you’ll need to learn how to work in an environment that changes continuously.

Some may believe that certification is the most critical part of becoming a project manager. However, certification isn’t mandatory, and it’s not the core of what it takes to succeed in the field.

What you do need is expertise and the commitment to stay on top of trends so that you can lead teams effectively. By committing to ongoing learning, you’ll prove that you have the dedication required to work in project management now and in the future.

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Posted in Productivity

Andrew Deen

Andrew Deen

Andrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in almost every industry from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He implements lean methodology and is currently writing a book about scaling up business.