Nikhil works at a car insurance organization where he has been named project manager of a group tasked with tracing down and reconnecting with old customers. Although Nikhil is intelligent, resourceful and hardworking, he struggles to listen to people and isn’t a great team player.

Do you think the organization did the right thing by picking Nikhil as the project manager? Let’s look at the main project manager skills Nikhil will be expected to have in this role.

Top Skills For Project Managers

A project manager has the responsibility to steer a project from start to finish. The project manager skill set must involve a set of qualities that can be used to deal with individuals and circumstances. With that in mind, here are some of the top skills for project managers:

  1. Communication

Project manager communication skills must be clear, prompt and effective. A competent project manager is someone who’s able to adapt their communication strategy depending on who they’re communicating with on their team. Communication involves not only the substance of what’s being said but also the style in which it’s being communicated.

  1. Leadership

Should a project manager be authoritative? Should they lead from the front or take a back seat? The answer is effective project manager leadership skills must adapt to the people, circumstances and objectives involved in a project. There is, however, one golden rule that project manager leadership skills must incorporate: a leader always puts the interests of the team over those of individuals.

  1. Risk Management

The skills required for a project manager must include the ability to assess situations and take risks. But those must be well-reasoned and calculated predictions. Risks invariably involve budgetary matters, and project managers must constantly assess what’s right in a given context.

  1. Time Management

Delivering a project on time is critical to its success. This is where project manager communication skills become invaluable. Time management can only be achieved with proper coordination among team members and with a thorough understanding of the project objectives.

  1. Conflict Management

Project managers are expected to deal with and resolve any conflict that may arise during the tenure of the project. To do this well, project manager skills and competencies must include the ability to distinguish between short-term disruption and long-term crises. Project managers must also understand that conflict management is frequently about managing egos, which means that there’s no place for their own ego in project manager skills.

  1. Organization

None of the skills required for a project manager will be of much use if the project manager is not good at organization. This involves having a clear blueprint of the project, distribution of roles across the team and a vision for how to get things done with minimum fuss and maximum impact.

  1. Negotiation

Project managers have to negotiate all the time—be it with their team members, their superiors or customers. A crucial part of negotiation is active and attentive listening, without which a project manager may fail to connect with key stakeholders in and outside the organization. Therefore, project manager skills must include negotiation skills that are not affected by emotions or egos.

  1. Resilience

On some days, project managers will have too much on their plate. Patience will run thin and communication can get strained. It’s on such days that they must be resilient. This is an important component of the project manager skill set, without which a project may get derailed.

  1. Multitasking

The secret to multitasking without losing focus is to strike a balance between different tasks. This includes identifying which tasks can be paired up and which must be pursued in isolation. It also means being ready to move on swiftly from one aspect of the project to another without losing focus.

  1. Subject Expertise

A project manager cannot lead if they aren’t well-versed with the details of the project at every level. While the skills required for a project manager need not include being the most knowledgeable member of the team, project managers need to have a baseline of expertise. Without this, it’s difficult for them to make decisions or help others.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of project manager skills and competencies in a workplace context. Your organization’s project managers can develop a host of other skills with practice and experience. It’s also important to remember that project manager skills are usually interrelated and by no means impossible to integrate.

Harappa Education’s High Performing Leaders program has everything you need to help coach your employees on their journey to becoming successful project managers. This program can help

  • Decode the strategic big picture without missing out on details

  • Mitigate risks and manage crises

  • Champion new ideas, drive innovation and much more

Our program is the best friend the young and upcoming project managers in your organization can rely on.


Explore Harappa Diaries to learn more about topics such as Who is a Project Manager, Must-Have Skills For Leadership, Top Behavioral Skills For Managers, Operational Manager Skills Managerial Roles And Skills that will help organizations tap into their employee’s potential.

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