12 Essential Soft Skills for Project Managers


Soft skills are undoubtedly needed by Project Managers. Across the Project Management profession there is debate about what these skills are and how they should be measured.

Generally speaking soft skills are the skills an individual has in relation to their Emotional Intelligence Quotient, their ‘EQ’. These cover a breadth of skills including communications, interpersonal skills and how an individual builds and maintains relationships with others. In a project environment getting others to work with you towards a common goal is a foundation stone to delivering a project.

The 12 essential behaviours for project managers are:
* Communication and Consultation
* Conflict and Crisis Management
* Flexibility and Creativity
* Leadership
* Learning and Development
* Negotiation
* Organisational Effectiveness
* Problem Solving and Decision Making
* Professionalism and Ethics
* Trustworthiness
* Self-control
* Teamwork

The importance and priority of the competencies will be influenced by a project’s or organisation’s culture and environment, however developing and improving these behaviours will help a project manager to deliver successful projects no matter where they are being applied.

Communication and Consultation: Interacting with people about ideas, thoughts, facts, emotions, challenges, successes, etc. alongside hard facts such as project progress. Having the ability to convey complex ideas easily; clearly articulate what must be accomplished; keep the team moving toward a common goal; and to foster an environment that allows team members to communicate openly and honestly.

Conflict and Crisis Management: Listening and responding to the needs and views of all team members to anticipate any potential areas of conflict. The ability to diffuse situations where conflict has risen maintains a healthy project environment.

Flexibility and Creativity: Thinking in original and imaginative ways to widen the scope of problem solving when issues arise. Encourage project teams to find the best solution and outcomes without slavishly following generic delivery methods or solutions. Adapting a project’s different components, templates, tools, and techniques.

Leadership: Understanding the vision and direction of the project and aligning the team to work towards it. Skills include delegating, coaching, motivating and leading by example.

Learning and Development: Continual improvement of both your own skills and those of your team. Assessment of skills and capabilities, encouraging participation in learning activities and evaluating how the learning is applied in the project environment.

Negotiation: Analysis of information, decision making, establishing the desired outcome and developing a strategy for the negotiation alongside understanding the optimal outcome from several options. Gaining agreement through consensus of positions from both parties.

Organisational Effectiveness: Understanding and applying people management processes and policies. Understanding the corporate culture, the organisational dynamics, and the individuals that work within it lead to getting the best from your team.

Problem Solving and Decision-Making: Resolving issues and solving problems that are a normal part of every project.

Professionalism and ethics: Demonstrated through knowledge, skills and behaviour alongside appropriate conduct and moral principles for both the organisation’s and project’s environments.

Trustworthiness: Do what you say you’re going to do. Build trust with stakeholders involved and convey they can be trusted day-to-day to do what is right at the right time to keep the project successful and the Sponsor satisfied.

Self-control: Self-control and self-management to ensure day to day stresses are addressed and a work / life balance maintained.

Teamwork: Creating a team atmosphere where the team believes that ‘we are all in this together’ is a critical component to project success.

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