Top 5 Skills Required For a Project Manager To Run Projects With Least Effort!

Top 5 skills required for a project manager to run projects with least effort!

Look at these startling statistics.

The International Project Management Association (IPMA), Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM), and KPMG conducted a survey about project performance, titled ‘The Future of Project Management: Global Outlook”.

future of project management, surveyAnd they discovered that:

  • 64% of businesses are unlikely to complete projects on time and within budget.
  • Only 19% of businesses complete projects successfully, at least 80% of the time.
  • A staggering 70% of businesses are unlikely to complete projects on schedule.
  • The likelihood of an organization delivering projects that satisfy the original purpose and commercial intent is only 44%.

Can you imagine the kind of damage that failed initiatives are causing in terms of credibility, business opportunities, and money?

The future project manager ‘has to become increasingly strategic and linked, acquiring skills beyond standard project management approaches‘, states the paper.

Project Management is never simple.

However, by acquiring the necessary skills and abilities, a project manager may effectively manage not only their projects but also their own physical and mental health.

In this article, let us see the 5 top skills that a project manager must learn to manage their projects effectively and efficiently. That means overall you’ll be putting in the least effort to deliver within project constraints!

Let’s look at each of these skills you’d require as a Project Manager.

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1. Ability to manage Change within the project & organization

An organization must undergo change to grow.

  • Changes in business conditions, organizational objectives, and the demand & availability of specialized talents are just a few of the factors that can lead to organizational change.
  • An organizational change initiative, a change in design, architecture, or methodology, or even the implementation of a client request, could all serve as project-level change-triggers.

Resistance is a regular problem the PM would run across while trying to implement change.

Because resistance to change is a natural human instinct, regardless of how necessary or beneficial it is.

When the need for change originates at the organizational level, the project manager is typically responsible for implementing changes in the project organization.

Here are a few strategies you can use as a project manager to effectively and efficiently manage change:

1. Instead of concentrating more on WHAT needs to change, share with the team WHY it needs to.

WHAT is necessary, but the HOW to get the group’s support for the change you’re undertaking.

How does this work?

According to Deci’s (1989) self-determination theory, people value Autonomy, and their need for development determines their conduct.

You can persuade them to adopt the change voluntarily by outlining how the change will help them achieve their own goals of career advancement.

2. Define the change management procedure.

People get clarity when processes are defined.

It helps them understand their obligations in bringing about the transformation. Clarity avoids confusion. And helps take action.

The project manager will be assisted in effectively and efficiently managing change by doing this in addition to outlining the WHY.

The most difficult undertaking a manager will ever do is change management. Therefore, it’s crucial that you learn how to handle things in the proper manner.

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2. Ability to communicate effectively

According to a poll of employees conducted by Northeastern University, 28% of workers believe that poor communication is the main reason why a project failed.

You already know, as a project manager, why communication is a critical ability for project managers at all career stages.

It makes sense that project manager spends roughly 90% of their time on project communications, according to the research paper Defining the Future of Project Management.

Effective communication is cited in the research paper as being “the most critical factor in the project’s success.”

Poor communication during the project’s early stages has a significant detrimental impact on the project’s later stages.

This suggests that if communication is ineffective from the start of the project, the project cost could rise dramatically throughout later stages.

Three areas of project communication must be handled by the project manager:

  • Communicating by yourself
  • Communication between various stakeholders
  • Communicating with outside parties

Communicating by yourself –

This includes,

  • Meetings with the team for communicating about customers, town halls, and policy
  • Facilitated meetings, such as project-related brainstorming sessions, where SMEs were invited.
  • Talks that take place one-on-one, such as performance reviews, unofficial gatherings, and disciplinary hearings

These sessions’ success is judged by participants’ body language, speech intonation, and eye contact.

Secondly, the project manager must adhere to the Communication Management Plan and Stakeholder Engagement Plan established during the project’s planning phase while communicating with certain stakeholders (and periodically refined).

These plans describe numerous communication channels and types, the communication requirements of each stakeholder, and the kinds of information required for effective job performance.

Communication between various stakeholders –

The project manager will find it most challenging to handle this step.


The PM has no influence over the way stakeholders interact with one another!

Ineffective communication between any two stakeholders could harm a project.

Therefore, it is the project manager’s duty to ensure that there are no communication issues among the stakeholders that result in problems later on.

The only effective method a PM can handle this is to aggressively search for communication gaps amongst stakeholders.

Here is an example.

Let’s imagine that in order to develop test cases, generate test data, and set up the test environment, the testing team needs input from the design team regarding the component that is being designed.

The Testing team’s delivery schedules will be impacted if this information is not delivered on time.

The project manager can prevent any potential problems down the road if she can comprehend these needs and work with these two teams to ensure prompt communication.

Communication with outside parties –

The departments outside the project are considered external entities here. Apart from the vendors, contractors, consultants, and even government agencies.

The project manager must make sure that the project’s goals are in line with those of the organization.

  • In order to do this, the PM must regularly provide feedback and report progress to organizations like the Project Management Office (PMO) or Program and Portfolio managers (if the project is part of a Program or Portfolio).
  • In order to meet the project’s procurement demands, the PM might also need to collaborate with the procurement department. She is in charge of communicating the precise procurement requirements to the procurement team, reviewing the contract agreements to make sure everything is covered, and making sure the delivery dates fit up with the project’s delivery timetable.
  • The PM will need to collaborate with compliance agencies for projects that must adhere to environmental laws or other regulations in order to assure compliance.

How should the project manager interact with outside parties?

Along with the project manager’s networking and negotiating skills, other attributes include being proactive in sharing the necessary information, being able to follow up on a frequent basis, and being aware of the expectations from these other entities.

These will support her in managing interactions with these external entities effectively and efficiently.

Taking a thorough certification exam like the PMP is one of the finest ways for project managers to master communication. PMI, which stands for Project Management Institute, administers this test.

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3. Interpersonal skills to work with all stakeholders

An effective project manager can benefit in unforeseen ways from having solid interpersonal skills.

Building a strong network within the organization, for instance, can enable you to get around the formal hierarchy, access the unofficial power centers within the company, and obtain crucial resources required for the project’s success.

Here are just a handful of the many crucial interpersonal abilities that can make you an effective PM:

1. Communication.5 skills required for a project manager

We already saw this in the previous point, and realize how important this is.

Let’s go on to the next point.

2. Collaboration.

The team and the project manager must work together with a variety of people, including other project managers, resource managers, functional managers, sponsors, customers, consultants, and vendors.

Additionally, the project manager must oversee team interactions with other teams.

  • Departments outside the organization,
  • additional inside project teams (design, testing, development, and quality, etc.), and
  • other organizational teams (procurement, legal, PMO, and QA, etc) (regulatory compliance, environmental clearance, etc).

3. Critical analysis

Project difficulties arise from unforeseen circumstances at unforeseen times. It may also have an impact on the project’s goals, including its budget, timeline, scope, credibility, and potential for future business.

A project manager’s ability to put emotions aside, think logically, and put solutions into practice is a defining quality.

4. Settling disputes

Any project will experience conflicts.

Conflicts are inevitable when numerous teams and individuals work together to achieve a single objective while keeping their own interests in mind.

Conflict can arise within a team, between teams that are supposed to collaborate, or even between stakeholders that do not report to the project manager but nonetheless have an impact on the project’s outcomes!

Although becoming an expert in interpersonal skills takes time, it is a requirement for project managers. A project manager can eventually improve at many of these abilities by practicing them consistently and working with mentors.

You want to become an expert in the talents, and I’m sure you are already proficient in some of them.

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4. Ability to work with technologies used in the project

Some project management experts hold the opinion that as long as a project manager has project management skills, they may be successful in ANY domain.

That is not true.

Would you work for a boss who had no idea what you did or how long it may take to complete a task?

Especially, if you must continually defend yourself and persuade others of the accuracy of your estimates and your boss has the power to accept or reject them?

The project manager greatly benefits from being able to at least understand and speak the language of the domain’s subject matter experts and technical team members.

Many project managers transition from working in their specific fields into project management:

  • A software developer eventually becomes a team leader and a project manager.
  • A construction project planner becomes a project lead.
  • An architect starts to manage design projects.

Team members are more likely to respect the project manager if they are aware that the project manager has been in their position before and speaks to them “in their language.”

They feel that the project manager is one of them.

On the other side, they won’t feel comfortable with it if the project manager has little knowledge of the industry, has no understanding of how much work is required for a certain assignment, and continually challenges the team member about their estimation.

They are aware that the PM is unaware of the tasks’ complexity and required level of effort.

They believe they must ‘persuade’ the project manager to accept the estimate they have developed.

Neither the team member nor the project manager wants to be in this situation.

Therefore, the project manager must possess technical knowledge, if not competence.

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5. Ability to manage Risks on the project

Here is a little test.

Suppose you oversee construction projects for businesses. You learn that a sizable tract of land is offered for less than market value. According to your project’s sponsor, the business cannot invest in such a sizable piece of property. That is a difficulty.

Then you propose partnering with a rival to develop a villa project there as a joint venture.

Do you consider the aforementioned issue to be a risk?

According to the Project Management Institute, the largest project management organization in the world, this is a risk labeled an opportunity!

Yes, there are two categories of risk: threat and opportunity.

Positive risk and Negative risk, in other words.

The talent of risk management is frequently the least practiced and most misunderstood.

Many project managers often use intuition to handle risks when there are no formal risk management procedures and practices in place.

In her study work, Lev Virine asserts that adopting intuition or gut instinct as the cornerstone of decision-making exposes us to cognitive biases and makes us vulnerable to illusions, both of which can lead to mistakes.

Project managers cannot handle risk management alone.

Although many project managers adopt this strategy, either voluntarily or as a result of the factors at play in a project setting.

To identify and manage risks and to plan for their reaction tactics, the project manager must regularly engage all necessary stakeholders.

Although many businesses do have risk identification and response plans in place, they fail to continuously check for the occurrence of those risks, missing the chance to control any negative effects when they arise.

Depending on how serious the risk is, this could result in a loss of time, resources, and opportunities, raising the project’s cost or, perhaps, ending the project altogether.

The steps in effective and efficient risk management for a project are as follows:

  • Make a thorough risk management plan.
  • Determine the parties who should be involved in risk management efforts.
  • Hold regular risk assessment meetings
  • Determine the risk owners and risk mitigation techniques.
  • Be proactive in monitoring changes in risk impact and probability for known issues.
  • Make sure the plan is followed when risks do materialize and keep an eye out for residual and secondary hazards.

As a project manager, it’s crucial to hone your risk management abilities.

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Being a project manager is a challenging job that commands the utmost respect.

You need to manage multiple hats on the project and need multiple skills.

And we’ve seen the top 5 of these skills required to be an effective project manager.

  1. Ability to manage Change within the project & organization
  2. Ability to communicate effectively
  3. Interpersonal skills to work with all stakeholders
  4. Ability to work with technologies used in the project
  5. Ability to manage Risks on the project

One of the easiest ways of acquiring these skills is to get certified.

PMP, is easily the top project management certification around, with both push by the managers and pull by the industry.

This blog helps you prepare for it with the least amount of time and effort.

I hope you will find the content here helpful. If you need anything that’s not available here, or need help with your exam preparation, reach out to me.

Shiv Shenoy, PMP

(Connect with me on LinkedIn)


Photo by Jo Szczepanska on Unsplash

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