Project Management Skills: Which Ones Matter Most?

Project managers are often the linchpin for change in an organization. They’re tasked with taking things from idea to reality. We all know that “getting things done” is harder than it appears to be, and the specialists who make things happen need to have a particular skill set to be effective. What are the most important project management skills?

Project Management Skills, Ranked:

1. Listening Skills

Yes, you read that right. The number one skill for a project manager is listening. You might be the most organized person in the world, but the way to truly know what’s going on at the front lines is to listen to the team, learn what’s going on, and demonstrate your empathy and leadership for your team. Listening to team members makes them feel valued, empowered, and is as motivating as any other strategy. This isn’t our idea, it’s Gary Vaynerchuk’s – and he knows a thing or two about success…

2. Planning and Organization

On the other hand, you might be the best listener in the world…but without the planning and organizing skills necessary to plan and manage a project, you might have a very happy team – but will be no closer to delivery than when you started. A project manager needs to be able plan, organize, and delegate. This starts before the project plan is put together – the super-organized project manager starts with a work plan and the overall structure of the project.

3. Crisis Intervention

No project goes the way it’s planned. No matter how well you’ve planned, there will be surprises down the road. Some are benign, and some can threaten the project (and maybe the entire company). As a project manager, there will be times you need to intervene to prevent one project delay becoming an avalanche.

crisis intervention

4. Team Building

Knowing who to include on the project team, and what to assign to which member, is bread and butter of project management. Building your project team effectively often means understanding each member’s personality and the dynamics of how each will interact with the team. It also means knowing what each person’s skill set is, and where in the project they’ll slot in. The great project managers know how to utilize specialists, and the incredible ones know how to create them.

5. Networking In-House and Out

There’s always a crunch for resources at any organization. We all know the pain of needing something for project success that isn’t available. Good project managers know how to “market” their projects in house, which helps with networking and resource acquisition. “Playing the game” is part of the grueling journey from project launch to successful delivery.