Overseeing projects from ideation to execution is not as straightforward as it sounds. One needs to possess the right project management skills to be an efficient and successful project manager. There is also an array of project management tools you need to build competency in to organize your projects and render desired outcomes. And this requires effort and experience.
In this guide, we will dive into the roles and responsibilities of a project manager and explore the skills and technical competencies that are needed to succeed in the profession.
Who is a Project Manager?
A project manager is the leading authority of a project who is responsible for overseeing its ideation, planning, resource procurement, execution, and completion. Regardless of the industry, a project manager is expected to carry out these responsibilities successfully through a diverse range of industry-specific skills and know-how.
Project managers require excellent communication/interpersonal skills and leadership skills to adapt to dynamic work cultures and environments and fulfill their roles efficiently.
What Does a Project Manager do?
Since project management is not confined to a single industry, the roles and responsibilities of a project manager may vary. However, we’ve listed a few of the standard duties of project managers:
- To research and identify inadequacies in the market to generate ideas for possible solutions.
- To develop strategic plans to execute company projects.
- To be actively involved in the project planning, development, and implementation process.
- To determine the resources required and procure them at the best possible prices.
- To schedule tasks and setting goals for the entire project lifecycle.
- To coordinate with the various departments to follow up on the project status
- To create a favorable environment for different teams to work efficiently.
- To devise solutions to unprecedented problems, right from project planning through to its execution.
- To maintain favorable relations with stakeholders and keeping them informed of the progress.
- To track the project progress using project management tools and hold regular meetings with the team to discuss the same.
- To guide the team through challenges and ensuring they achieve project goals.
- To conduct workshops and training sessions for mentoring team members.
- To motivate team members to achieve project goals.
- To analyze project and company data to forecast revenue.
- To ensure proper documentation of the project so team members are on the same page.
- To oversee quality control, mitigate risks, and resolve conflicts.
- To conduct performance reviews of team members and provide valuable feedback.
- To report issues or deficits to the senior management.
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What are the Skills Required For Project Management?
We’ve chalked down some prominent skills that should be in your arsenal when it comes to advancing in your management career.
1. Technical Skills
It is important to stay updated with the evolving technological sphere to stay on top of your game.
Project managers are required to be tech-savvy and knowledgeable. They must stay abreast of relevant technologies in the industry. If you don’t have in-depth knowledge of the technical details, it will hinder the successful completion of the project. For instance, if there is a defect in a project API, and your team of developers can’t turn to you for assistance, it might result in indefinite delays.
On the other hand, technical competence will allow you to:
- Easily evaluate the tasks and time needed for a project.
- Employ an analytical and predictive approach to plan a project.
- Provide technical assistance when your team requires it.
- Have effective discussions with your team of developers regarding the technicalities of the project.
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2. Communication Skills
If a manager can’t effectively communicate his vision and plans to his team, a project won’t proceed as per expectations or produce desired results. Any project that suffers from poor communication will manifest failures in the form of hurdles along the way.
At every stage of project execution, proper communication is necessary to ensure clarity on the proceedings. Good communication will help employees understand how their contribution affects an organization’s success.
Effective communication skills also determine how well you keep team members dedicated to their goals. This also comes in handy while resolving conflicts and creating a favorable atmosphere which in turn contributes to improved relationships and increased productivity.
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3. Effective Leadership Skills
Every project needs a superior or leader to ensure seamless working in an organization. Their leadership style determines how motivated team members are in achieving set goals.
As the leader of a project, a project manager must be honest, confident, and decisive about a project’s proceedings. They must ensure transparency and accountability for the organization to flourish.
Project managers must also be adept at handling chaos, disagreements, and conflicts in the workplace. They are expected to stay calm and motivated themselves. Empathetic and optimistic leaders make better project managers and can handle difficult situations better.
Good leaders have incentive programs in place to ensure team members are rewarded for putting in extra effort and displaying outstanding performance. This is excellent for boosting morale in the workplace.
4. Negotiation Skills
Project managers often overlook the importance of honing negotiating skills until they face a situation where they inevitably have to. Underprepared negotiators make unnecessary concessions, overlook the value of resources, and miss out on potentially beneficial agreements.
With the right negotiation skills and persuasion prowess, project managers can effectively negotiate terms with clients, stakeholders, and other allies to cut down expenses for the company. This is an extremely valuable skill to possess as a project manager. Although the skill requires on-the-job experience to be effective, it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the proven negotiating tactics to apply on the field.
You can also join a project management course to gain relevant experience and develop your skills.
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5. Organization Skills
Good project managers exhibit organizational skills in both their personal or professional life. Since they are responsible for multiple complicated tasks, it’s only reasonable that they have proper documented procedures and schedules for every task to prevent last-minute problems and complications.
Organizational skills also declutter the mind and enable a project manager to pursue important goals with clarity.
Here are a few effective tips to be more organized:
- Create a manageable to-do list that keeps track of your meetings for the day.
- Prioritize tasks in order of their importance and the time that will be invested in them. This will allow you to attend to tasks that require your immediate attention.
- Create a schedule that will make delegating tasks to your team members easier.
6. Adaptability Skills
As project managers work on tight deadlines and under pressure, they need to be ready to face challenges and overcome them. Furthermore, it’s common for industries to undergo disruptions from time to time. It could be due to the emergence of new technologies, evolving market trends, or changing user demands.
People in managerial positions determine how well their departments will adapt to such challenges. Even if situations get chaotic and out of hand, they must tackle them with a calm and optimistic approach to not let the organization fall apart.
7. Team Management Skills
For successful project execution, you need a team that can coordinate and works productively even in challenging situations. It is important to pick the right candidates for your project since this can significantly reduce your managerial responsibilities.
Team management also involves listening to every member’s ideas and opinions and acknowledging their effort. This goes a long way in ensuring your team stays motivated and in the agreement with proposed plans.
To effectively utilize the full potential of their team, project managers must delegate tasks appropriately after careful evaluation of each member’s performance. It is also vital to attach concrete deadlines to everyone’s responsibilities. With a defined schedule, it is easy to keep track of their performance throughout the project’s life cycle.
Always remember the golden BECC rule for effective team management — Bond, Empathize, Connect, and Communicate.
8. Critical Thinking & Problem-Solving Skills
Project managers with critical thinking capacities can weigh the advantages and disadvantages of a situation and formulate strategies accordingly. They must know to use their analytical skills to forecast the results of a strategy and be ready with necessary backup plans in case things go awry. It is important to lean on both convergent and divergent aspects of a project to be able to create better strategies.
Future of Project Management
As per PayScale, a project manager in the IT domain stands to earn a salary of ₹1,515,579 per year. It’s a significant hike transitioning from a software developer’s role to a managerial position.
Naturally, the field is booming and there is a wide range of industries you can choose from. From IT and telecom to healthcare, construction, and manufacturing, project managers are in high demand. Furthermore, project management has a rewarding career path and there are tons of opportunities to learn and grow professionally.
So, if you are passionate about managing projects and have the right skills, project management is an ideal career choice for you!
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The course is specifically designed to help managers lead and motivate, handle diversity in the workplace, improve their decision-making process, and master communication and people skills. In just three months, aspiring and transitioning managers can earn a certification from Michigan State University.
How is a project manager different from a program manager?
The roles of a project manager and program manager are often seen to be closely linked and intertwined. Basically, a project manager oversees individual projects and leads them to completion, while a program manager oversees several groups of projects that have a common organizational target to achieve. Program managers have to work with several project managers and individuals from the executive management level. Project managers have to work with teams and team members and ensure project deliveries, deadlines, costs, risks and maintain project progress. A project manager can move from one project to another with the projects' timelines, but program managers can be associated with a program indefinitely as long as it continues.
How much do project managers earn in India?
Work experience plays a significant role in the field of project management, which is why project managers are generally senior professionals with several years of industry experience. The role of a project manager is lucrative both in terms of growth and compensation. The average earnings of project managers in India range at around INR 13 lakhs per year; it can range between anything from INR 3 to 25 lakhs per year. Of course, that depends on several factors, including the overall experience, certifications, and location.
Do you need an MBA to become a project manager?
You may come across several B-schools offering MBA courses designed for those who wish to become project managers. However, getting an MBA is not mandatory if you want to become a project manager but having one really helps you stand out. There are various paths to entering the field of project management. Some project managers are known to establish their careers in this field just through work experience, not only formal management education.